Seeking Solutions for the Clearwaterby Matt Loveless
KLEW TV, May 30, 2008
LEWISTON - Senator Mike Crapo thinks a group of unlikely partners is going to improve Idaho's forests.
Called the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, Crapo said Thursday it is a consensus-based effort to plan the long-term use and management of public lands in the Clearwater Basin. Officials from all sides of the forestry issue were on hand for the Thursday meeting at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport. Representatives from resource, environmental, wildlife, sportsmen, tribal, state and federal agencies were invited to the table.
"We'll be assured that we have a strong, beautiful forest and a great Clearwater and the opportunities to have this kind of an environmental heritage for our children and our grandchildren forever," said Crapo.
U.S. Forest Service officials were on hand and talked about specific issues people are bringing to the table.
"There are water quality issues, due to the fisheries, there's need for restoration," said U.S. Forest Service Northern Region Forester Tom Tidwell. "And, so the intent here, and the reason we're so interested, is because we feel that by working out these issues on the front end, we'll spend less time on the analysis."
Crapo officials admit it sounds idealistic, but the goal is to get these groups out of the courtrooms, where so much of their money is being spent.
"What we have found is that we can do that in a way where we can find solutions that are far better for the environment, and far better for the economy, than what we are faced with litigation, or the conflict models we are using," said Crapo.
Crapo said the process is a sort of test model for U.S. Forest Service regions around the country.
"Everybody knows that they have tremendous road ahead of them, but they're committed to do it, and so it's really been a great start," Crapo said.
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