Monday, March 10, 2014

A Rare Sighting of the Politcal Kind

By Will Whelan, director of government relations

This blog often reports on sightings of rare wildlife at our preserves.

Last week brought a rare sighting of a different kind: all four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation in the same room with Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.  One veteran of Capitol Hill commented that he’d never actually seen Senator Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Labrador in one place before.

Senator Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, Congressman Labrador, and Tom Tidwell. Photo ©Will Whelan/TNC.

Idaho’s congressional leaders and the Forest Service chief did not come together for a major political event or convention.  Instead, they came together to collectively voice their support for collaborative forest restoration at the annual conference of a small but ambitious organization called the Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership.  IFRP’s conference brings together the members of groups that are working on forest restoration across Idaho.  Participants ranged from conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy, the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited to timber companies such as Boise Cascade and Idaho Forest Group to rural county commissioners. Just about every interest group that cares about national forests had a representative in the room.  The Conservancy is a founding member of the Partnership and helped organize the conference.

The collaborative groups that met last week in Boise support the use of active forest management, such as thinning and prescribed fire, in the roaded portion of Idaho’s national forests to further ecological, economic and social goals. Many of the projects that these groups helped develop also include measures to improve water quality, decommission old roads, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Last week’s event is a clear sign that collaborative groups are coming of age and earning the kind of support that can help accelerate their work.

You can read Idaho Statesman’s article about last week’s event at:

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