Not all groups buy into forest collaboration but Idaho got more funds
Submitted by Rocky Barker on Tue, 02/07/2012 – 1:37pm, updated on Tue, 02/07/2012 – 3:35pm
I got a few comments while I was away about my stories about forest collaboration.
The stories talked about how timber industry folks, environmentalists and others were moving into the next phase of collaboration . They are tackling tough questions like how much thinning and logging is good and where appropriate in the areas outside of roadless areas.
Montana environmental activist George Wuerthner pointed out that my stories didn’t include voices from environmentalists who opposed collaborative efforts like the Moscow-based Friends of the Clearwater and the Montana-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies. Fair comment.
They, like Wuerthner, are skeptical of collaborative efforts that they believe will make forests less resilient, not more.
“For myself, a healthy forest is one with a lot of dead trees–not the kind of forest that forest management brings about,” Wuerthner said. “So I suspect since my definition is different, my goals would be different from the industry and organizations quoted in the article.”
I don’t think he differs with the scientific beliefs of the Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League. They like dead trees as bird habitat and for their effect on creating fish habitat when they fall into streams.
In fact the U.S. Forest Service now requires a certain amount of dead trees left in most timber sales and stewardship projects in the state.
And the groups have been pushing the positive benefits of fire perhaps even more effectively than the two groups he mentions. After all, it was the work of these and similar groups that led to the national forest roadless rules that protect more than 8 million acres in Idaho and more than 55 million nation-wide.
And it was their partners like Bill Higgins, the resource manager of the Idaho Forest Group in Grangeville who have embraced the Idaho Roadless Plan in their own sense of compromise aimed at ending the forest wars.
Friends of the Clearwater and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies remain skeptical about compromise. There also are folks on the other side of the spectrum who are just as leery of the environmentalist collaborators.
In the end the collaborators must take their views into consideration if they are to succeed. I acknowledge my bias toward those people who sit and talk together.
I also missed the story where the Obama Administration announced it would spend an additional $16 million on collaborative forest projects nationwide. They added two new Idaho projects to the Clearwater Collaborative projects approved in 2010 and continued in 2011.
They are: The $2.4 million Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project on the Payette National Forest; and the $324,000 Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative on the Panhandle National Forest up north.