Here’s the link and below is an excerpt.
Give us a nuts and bolts description of how the Clearwater Basin Collaborative project got started and how it works, because this does seem to be a pretty solid group of folks.
There have to be local folks — some configuration of different interests meet and get a sense that they could sit down and work toward agreements. Nobody knows whether you’re going to get there or not. So a guy named Dale Harris from Montana with just a high, high interest in the Great Burn area, and Alex Irby from Orofino, with both motorized interests and a timber guy and also just a sporting guy who was a Fish and Game commissioner — these two guys said the time was right.
We said no, slow down. But they went ahead and did it anyway, and started putting together more people and quick enough, once they started to get a configuration, the key was Senator Crapo. Senator Crapo was wrapping up the Owyhee Initiative, had built a lot of trust throughout all different kinds of communities, had built up recognition in Congress as somebody who pulled off a very contentious, very complicated, and ultimately a great piece of legislation.
So a set of folks went to the Forest Service. They said yes, and then just invited in the congressional staff. Senator Crapo actually did send out an invitation letter. The thing about the Clearwater group is they’re trying to deal with at least four big issues: timber supply, recreation, generalized forest economics, and then wilderness. Some pretty big stuff all at once.
Note: Senator Crapo is an R.. we could hypothesize that once local people get collaboration going, it would be hard for any politician to stand in the way or partisanize. We might be putting them in teh situation where they have a chance to lead across the aisle, with no downside at home.