Collaboration on plans vs projects

Some observations about the recently revised Kootenai forest plan.

Robyn King, president of the stakeholders’ group, said her organization hasn’t taken a stand on the broader forest plan, although they did publicly support the East Reservoir Project that could result in several small-to-medium timber sales in Lincoln County this year.

“As you can imagine, due to the diversity of our group, there are quite a few opinions about the new forest plan!  The coalition did not work together on a joint response to the forest plan,” King said.

Peck points to the stakeholders’ group as an example of how forest management should take place. “The best solutions come from the closest spot to the impact. Who better to make the decisions than a diverse group of people living here, in and around the forest?”

That involvement will continue, promised King. “What we are looking forward to is our continued involvement at the project level collaborating with each other and with the United States Forest Service to find common ground agreements on vegetative management for the forest,” she said.

Despite the hype associated with the 2012 planning rule’s foray into collaboration, I think this is a more realistic approach.  The broader, regional and national interests that are hard to collaborate with are more relevant to overall strategic planning for national forests than to specific projects.  In addition, the track record so far for collaboration for forest plan revisions is not encouraging.  I would be more inclined to agree with Peck’s statement if he is talking about a project that is being developed consistent with a forest plan that reflects broader interests.

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