May 29, 2008

Clearwater Basin Collaborative Announced

Crapo chairs consensus effort on Central Idaho forests, wildlife, jobs

Lewiston - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today joined with a group of resource, environment, wildlife, sportsmen, Tribal and state and federal agency leaders to announce the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, a consensus-based effort to plan the long-term use and management of public lands in the Clearwater Basin. Crapo and many group members feel a collaborative effort combined with long-range planning may be the best way to solve issues and manage public lands for the benefit of multiple uses-timber production, wildlife and fish habitat, forest health and other areas.

Crapo invited representatives of several Idaho groups that use and enjoy the Clearwater River Basin to take part in the collaborative effort with the Forest Service to plan its future use. The formal effort was announced today during an initial meeting of the group in Lewiston.

The group includes representatives from conservation groups, local business, local government, motorized recreation groups, sportsmen's groups, Tribal government, the wood products industry, Idaho residents and state and federal government. Kathleen Rutherford, a professional facilitator, will oversee the group's discussions. Staff from Crapo's North Central Office in Lewiston and from the U.S. Forest Service Region 1 will also participate in the meetings.

"By utilizing the collaborative process, we can find the areas we can agree on and build on them to find long-term solutions to land management issues," Crapo said. "Too often, the current process ends in disagreement or litigation. We have seen collaboration work in Idaho-during the recent Elk Collaborative process and with the Owyhee Initiative legislation before Congress."

"This process will recognize and respect the views of all participants," Crapo added. "Each participant must be as committed to helping others reach their goals and objectives as that participant is committed to advancing their own interests. Every good effort involves challenges. Challenges are simply opportunities for participants to offer solutions that move the process forward in an improved manner."

The Clearwater Basin Collaborative announced today builds on an effort Crapo started in 2002 to discuss how to increase elk numbers in the Clearwater Basin. The new collaborative will engage the public, county, state and federal officials and agency leaders, the forest products industry, conservation groups, the Nez Perce Tribe and others. Among the issues in the Clearwater Basin that may be discussed are forest management, lumber production and jobs, elk habitat, salmon recovery, recreational use, sportsmen's access and other issues.