April 27, 2006

Crapo Introduces Forest Service Partnership Bill

Legislation enhances collaborative work with the Forest Service

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln introduced the bipartisan Forest Service Partnership Act, which will improve the ability of the Forest Service to work cooperatively with local communities and others to improve conservation results. Crapo, who chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation and Rural Revitalization, authored the bill to advance the enactment of cooperative legislation that better enables federal agencies to work collaboratively and efficiently. The Act gives the Forest Service permanent authority to work with other federal agencies, communities, tribal governments, and the private sector on conservation projects. Among its various benefits, the legislation would allow park visitors to purchase health and safety items in remote Forest Service locations, permit joint facilities and research publications. This type of partnership allowed for the construction of a new channel on Granite Creek near Lake Pend Oreille. That allowed for trout habitat restoration on six miles of stream.â??Collaboration is essential to achieve conservation success and to ensure the access and services for people visiting our national forests,â?? Crapo said. â??This bill will increase federal efficiency and involve communities and private citizens to best meet conservation needs on our lands. Ultimately all park visitors will benefit through better services and accessibility. We must remove obstacles that stand in the way of this cooperative work and this bill aids in doing just that.â??In FY2005, the Forest Service entered into more than 3,000 cooperative agreements, including partnerships in Idaho, and this legislative partnership would permanently allow those cooperative agreements rather than having to be reauthorized by Congress each year. The partnerships also allowed for more than $70 million of multi-source funding to be used on projects aimed at conservation efforts.