November 08, 2011

Crapo: Collaboration Taking Higher Profile in U.S. Forest Service

Notes promotion of Region 1 Forester Leslie Weldon to Deputy Chief

Washington, D.C.   - The use of collaboration and increased public involvement to address contentious federal land management issues is a welcome development, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.  Crapo today noted the promotion of Region 1 Forester Leslie Weldon to become the new Deputy Chief for the U.S. Forest Service.  Crapo said Weldon has been an active supporter and participant of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC), an advisory group Crapo helped establish more than three years ago to find solutions to contentious land management and wildlife issues in Idaho's Clearwater Basin.

"The U.S. Forest Service has been an active participant in the Collaborative and I credit the agency with being at the forefront of this collaborative, problem-solving effort and working with Congress to fund joint initiatives that are bearing fruit," Crapo said.  "Regional Forester Leslie Weldon, working with the leadership team of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and all of our collaborative members, is advancing a template for land management that could lead to fewer fights in the courts and more on-the-ground land use agreements.  We have seen collaborative successes with the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management with the Owyhee Initiative in Southwest Idaho.  Now, we are seeing collaboration work with the Forest Service and I commend today's announcement and promotion of Ms. Weldon to help lead the Forest Service team."

The CBC has spawned new discussions of job creation through timber harvesting and landscape improvements, which could benefit habitat for elk, fish and other wildlife.   Collaborative members have also discussed land protections, recreation and transportation issues to settle long-running disputes on federal lands in central Idaho.  The Idaho collaborative effort was one of ten in the nation singled out by Forest Service management as pilot projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act for funding to promote problem-solving through consensus building and on-the-ground decision-making on the management of federal lands.