Letters From the West

Crapo praises Clearwater Collaborative for seeking solutions

Members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative tour the forest

Members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative tour the forest

Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo met with members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative group Wednesday in Lewiston to discuss the next step now that they have reached a broad agreement.

They aren’t ready yet to propose specific changes in federal rules or legislation but Crapo said eventually he hopes the joint effort leads to a bill he can introduce to carry out their goals.

Timber companies, county officials, the Nez Perce Tribe, motorized recreation groups, sportsmen, conservation and preservation groups agreed to a work plan that includes increasing logging and other active management as well as additional federal wilderness and Wild Rivers designations on the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forest in north Central Idaho.

“I think the CBC is the most prominent collaborative effort in the country,” Crapo said.

The group has already helped the Forest Service sell 11 million board feet timber and pushed 50,000 acres of forest and watershed restoration in the forest. More than hundred jobs have been created.

The Forest Service, backed by Crapo and the collaborative group is four years into a 10-year restoration program on 1.2 million acres that eventually is expected to result in 124 million board feet of timber being sold, fish and wildlife habitat improved and recreation facilities upgraded.

The mixed ownership of state, private and national forest lands adjacent to Dworshak Reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River in North Idaho.(Rocky Barker/rbarker@idahostatesman.com

The mixed ownership of state, private and national forest lands adjacent to Dworshak Reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River in North Idaho.(Rocky Barker/rbarker@idahostatesman.com

Crapo said the participation of people from many different interest groups has expanded support for a comprehensive program that addresses all their needs.

“If we are going to expect capital investment in any aspects of the economy, whether timber or recreation in the area, there has to be an element of certainty,” Crapo said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West