July 23, 2011

Clearwater Basin Collaborative Takes Big Step

Recommendations could create 370 jobs under Forest Restoration Act

Washington, D.C. - A collaborative land management effort in Idaho's Clearwater Basin has been selected for federal funding recommendations through the U.S. Forest Service that could maintain or create up to 380 jobs in the region over the next ten years. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo created the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) Work Group two years ago in an effort to find consensus on land management issues such as timber harvest, habitat improvement and species management.

The restoration work plan envisioned under the project was one of ten nationwide recommended to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service for full funding. The Forest Service established the review panel to offer recommendations on which projects to choose for funding under the Forest Restoration Act. Members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative traveled to Washington, D.C. for the announcement of the funding recommendations and also met with Senator Crapo in his Washington office.

"It is no accident that the Clearwater Basin Collaborative is being universally recognized as a management model for the nation," Crapo said. "Collaboration breaks barriers. Collaboration brings people together to find common solutions. Now, the Clearwater project may soon bring more than 300 good-paying jobs into the Clearwater Basin in a ten-year effort that will improve the land, habitat and employment situation for all Idahoans and Idaho fish and wildlife. I salute the hard work of the Forest Service and members of the Collaborative work group that have brought us to the point we are today."

"The land benefits, the public benefits, and the communities will all benefit from this great collaborative effort by the U.S. Forest Service and the Clearwater Basin Collaborative," said Rick Brazell, Forest Supervisor for the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests.

"This proposal is a resounding success for the U.S. Forest Service, Clearwater Basin Collaborative, and most importantly for the landscape and our communities. Healthy forests are vital for people and nature, providing clean water and wildlife habitat, supporting livelihoods, and creating recreational opportunities for the public," said Robyn Miller of The Nature Conservancy, and a member of the CBC work group.

According to the Forest Service, the Selway-Middle Fork proposal outlined in the CBC is a comprehensive restoration strategy that is designed to restore and maintain ecological conditions with in the 1.4 million acre ecysystem. Proposed restoration activities may include actions to reduce the risk of severe fire and reduce firefighting costs; promote vegetation that is resistant to insects, disease and wildfire; improve water quality; improve conditions for big-game habitat and native and anadromous fish; reduce non-native plant species and promote the growth of native species. The use of biomass, creating jobs, and enhancing recreation are also part of the proposal.

The final recommendation for funding is expected before the end of the fiscal year.