Letters From the West

Forest Service region seeks discussion with community leaders

Mores Mountain TrailForest Service officials are seeking help thinking about everything from fire policy to Christmas tree permits to disastrous wilderness trail systems to how they staff visitor centers in the Sawtooths.

The Forest Service Intermountain Region, those are the people in Utah who only control the southern Idaho forests, reports that it recently launched a new effort to look at its work through the lens of the communities it serves and the places it stewards.

“The goal of the effort is to explore the complexities and challenges around our mandate to manage public land for multiple uses; build and strengthen relationships with those who care about and depend on the land; and identify new and better ways to work in community,” the regional office said in a press release.

It is reaching out to a diverse group of community members to participate in listening sessions intended to help them think through some key information, gather new ideas, and discuss concerns.

These sessions will be designed as a small group of 15 people to allow for participants to have a rich conversation, which will be facilitated by the Metropolitan Group , a firm that specializes in community engagement.

The discussions will be confidential and no one from the Forest Service will be in attendance.

I don’t know how the confidential thing is going to work. And when you think about how many people turn out for public meetings why not just open it to the public?

The sessions will be in Boise.

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