Friday, May 31, 2013

Clearwater Basin Collaborative members agree to move forward on forest management and land protection actions

After five years of work on land management issues within the Clearwater Basin, members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative signed a work plan signifying their commitment to continue work to resolve six natural resource issues.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo convened the Collaborative five years ago to find long-term solutions to natural resource issues that were contributing to gridlock in the Basin. At the initial meeting, he told members the collaborative process would require all participants to recognize and respect the views of all participants. “Each participant must be as committed to helping others reach their goals and objectives as that participant is committed to advancing their own interests,” he emphasized.

With that goal in mind the group forged a package that proposes six issues be addressed administratively and/or legislatively: Forest management; rural economic needs and county funding; tribal and special places; wilderness, wild and scenic rivers and special management designations, wildlife management; and recreation.

Clearwater Basin Collaborative Co-chair Alex Irby said he believes this plan strikes the right balance for people who live, work and play within the Clearwater Basin. “We are very pleased to have reached this milestone,” he stated. “We believe this balanced package is the blueprint for breaking the gridlock that has paralyzed land management actions in the past.”

Irby said when the entire plan is implemented there will be more jobs associated with increased levels of timber harvest and forest restoration work in the roaded front country, and protection for those backcountry lands and rivers that so many people treasure. Additionally there will be more certainty for county governments, improved habitat to support the area’s wildlife and more recreation opportunities.

“In order for this plan to work all the components must move forward simultaneously,” he emphasized. “This is the beginning of a long-term process, not the end.”

While the Collaborative, as a body, has forged agreements and provided consensus input and recommendations on a variety of natural resource issues to multiple agencies, the Agreement and Work Plan is the group’s first attempt to put the separate pieces together into a comprehensive package that all members agree to thoughtfully move forward.

Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt said, “Idaho County needs solutions. The current gridlock on our federally controlled lands is hurting Idaho County in significant ways. This agreement is an attempt to find a solution and to end the gridlock. Our public lands are being managed through the Court system.

This method of conflict driven management on public lands is not working. The best hope we have of preserving the way of life we value in rural Idaho is to try and find ways to work together.”

Brandt added, “If successful, this agreement will create more jobs, provide better school funding for rural schools, and reduce conflict.”

The signed Agreement and Work Plan will be posted on the Collaborative’s website

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