*OPINION: Why collaboratives are just another failed effort at forest management

Editor’s note:  This commentary was posted by NWAF! Coalition member, Robin Stanley.

Robin Stanley

Robin Stanley

I find it very interesting and concerning, to say the least, that a leading timber industry magazine would agree that the solution to our national forest problem is collaboration.

While I can agree there have been some abuses by the Forest Service in the past with regard to overcutting, those abuse pale by comparison to that agency’s current forest management practices of abandonment and failure to manage overgrowth and hundreds of thousands of acres of diseased and dying trees in our national forests.  And in fairness to the Forest Service, they did not just decide one day to stop cutting trees.  They were stopped in court by the same people Evergreen Magazine is now encouraging collaboration with.

So have the “anti-cut” people all of a sudden decided that they want to sit at the table to “collaborate” with the timber industry to improve the harvest and rebuild the logging industry?  I think not.

I believe the reasonable anti-logging element is finally seeing the results of their failed policies.  And if they are not seeing it, then, if they are wise, they are seeing Congress finally waking up to its failed policies and the unintended consequence of the destruction of the logging industry brought about by congressional legislation.   

Those unintended consequences include the uncontrolled growth in our national forests.  Sick and diseased forests that have become thickets ready to burn in catastrophic fashion, destroying watersheds, wildlife, personal property, human lives, timber value, followed by mud slides, and the loss of the economy of rural America. All were avoidable had our national forests been managed.  And the situation will only continue to erode until the current management practices have been reversed.

I am disappointed Evergreen Magazine does not recognize the complex nature of a forest.  There are delicate balances that need to be maintained between tree species, wildlife, watersheds, volume of timber, the various types of forests, the type of terrain, the amount of rainfall/snow just to mention a few.  Forests are very complex and it is not like growing a sing crop in a garden.  That is why there are colleges and degrees specializing in forest management.

A retired forest manager once said that turning forest management over to a group of citizens equates to turning brain surgery over to a group of townspeople.  After spending a career in the field, he recognized the gravity of the decisions in forest management and felt they should not be abdicated to untrained personal bias and opinions.  Forests need to be managed by people who understand the science behind forest management.   I agree with him and not the Evergreen Magazine.

So now instead of forests being managed by those who have studied and have backgrounds in forest management, we are going to let a committee made up of all those who have an opinion or a “vote” have a say on how our forests are managed.  Now it becomes a matter of who can get the most votes on the committee.  Consequently, we will let politics rather than science drive our forest management policies.  Tough decisions can be left of the table or abdicated to a vote of the masses to make a politically correct decision rather than the sound decision based on science.

That also bodes well with Congress because they too do not have to face the angry anti-logging community and can hide behind the vote of the collaborative. After all, “the people have spoken.”

A second issue to ponder:  If collaboratives are such an effective way to manage forests, why hasn’t the forest industry embraced it.  Imagine Potlatch or Weyerhaeuser taking the management of their forests out of the hands of the professionals trained in forest management and turning management over, instead, to a group of laypersons with little or no training in forest management.  The thought is really quite laughable.  So why would our national forests deserve less professional management than private forests?  It’s because management of the national forests is no longer based on science but instead on the politics of collaboration and Congress has abdicated their authority to the courts.

The collaborative concept is a small bandage on a severed limb. While it is better than nothing, it is not much better.  It does not adequately address the problem.  It can appease those who “severed the limb” by being able to say “look we are offing some aid” and it may buy a little more time.  But it does not really address the bleeding problem.  The same is true of collaboratives in operation.  While the collaborative sits around voting on where to place the bandage, the patients (our forests) are bleeding to death.  And if we cannot agree on where to place the bandage and its proper size, then it will end up in court or we do not even apply the bandage at all.  And so it goes with our national forests.  Collaboratives may agree on carrying out some projects, which is still better than carrying out none.   But in the meantime our forests will continue to burn, our rural communities will remain at risk, and catastrophic wild fires will continue to ravage the West.

As evidence of the restrictive nature of the collaborative system, Forest Service Chief Tidwell told the Idaho Statesmen that the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program alone has treated 1.45 million acres and harvested 1.2 billion board feet over the past five years.  That amounts to an average of 290,000 treatment acres and 240 million board feet per year across our entire national forest system.  It’s an extremely small bandage on a huge bleeding limb.  By comparison, Shoshone County has 1.2 million acres of national forests and at one time had 300 million board feet under contract.  It appears the collaborative process has really very little to brag — that is, beyond that it has avoided court challenges and suits by doing very little.

Now the collaborative advocates will be quick to say, “But we do have professionals and experts on our collaboratives.”  Here are two additional thoughts to consider.  If collaboratives include experts and defer to them in the collaborative process, then why do we the collaborative at all?   Why not just let the professionals manage the forests?  The answer is because the extreme environmental groups do not want science driving management.  They want to drive the management.

Secondly, collaboratives are open for anyone who wants participate.  Therefore it is easy to outnumber the professionals with the masses from the anti-logging camps.  Bottom line is that collaboratives are just another way of giving the anti-logging community what they want through a political agenda so they don’t have to spend time and money in court.  In an article published in The Bulletin, out of Bend, Oregon, on July 3rd, and reprinted at this blog on July 4th, Karen Coulter, executive director of Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project in Fossil, threatens litigation from her own and other environmental groups because they are not pleased with the collaborative outcomes. Are there any assurances that a project supported by the collaborative cannot be challenged in court?  The answer is a resounding no!  So keep the approved projects small, avoid controversial proposals, and, in the meantime, our forests continue to burn up. There is an old adage that negotiating with unions was easy if you just give them what they wanted.  The same is true of collaboratives.  But collaborative members can pat each other on the back and take satisfaction in the small temporary bandage they have applied.

Forests need to be managed by professionals with training and experience, and not by laypeople who want to have a vote based on their personal bias as to where the bandages need to go.  I personally agree with the retired forester.  Managing forests by committees equates to managing brain surgery by a committee of citizens.

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11 Responses to *OPINION: Why collaboratives are just another failed effort at forest management

  1. Dawn Bechtel -Wiksten says:

    So the idea I see Mr. Stanley putting forth is that we maintain a combative stance rather than one of trying to work together…? I am not for that attitude in any way. Many points he raises are correct, but we have to find a way to work together. In this country we all DO have a vote. And while that is not always fair or even logical, I am saddened to think anyone thinks continuing a Mexican standoff is the right course of action..

    • Robin Stanley says:

      I support working together. But I am opposed to one group having a veto power through the courts such as has been threatened by Karen Coulter and her environmental groups. I am also opposed to forests being managed by politics and not by science. Anyone with a objective mind can see what we have been doing for the last 30 years has failed. To continue more of the same is idiotic. Again, I reference the Chief Tidwell article on how miniscule the total acreage the collaboratives have addressed over the past five years. So again I say, we either do something different, take way the court veto power of the environmental extremists and return forest management to those trained in the field, or we continue to watch our forests and our communities burn up. I am saddened by the fact so many people mistakenly view our national forests as attractive little tree farms when in fact that have become thickets of dead and dying fire fuel. I am further saddened by the fact that so many people do not understand the nature of managing forests and instead choose to treat them like back yard community gardens that everyone should have a vote in managing. While I do not profess to have all the answers, I live in the heart of the 1910 fire and my ancestry fought the fire. So I believe I at least understand some of the basic issues dealing with forests in general. My opinions are grounded in experience, history and over thirty years of watching the mismanagement of one of our most precious natural resources. If the alternative to a “Mexican standoff” is to continue to give the anti-loggers what they want either through the so called collaborative process, or the courts, so be it. It is just a matter of time until there are enough communities burned that Congress and the public will finally wake up.

      • Dawn Bechtel -Wiksten says:

        As I said in the beginning your right regarding all the issues you’re bring up, but we have to start somewhere with those opposed to what we want to see done. I think you and I see eye to eye on the issues, just that we may diverge on how to get to the resolutions we need. I hope I have not insulted your in any way personally Robin. I know that we both have a lot of “skin in the game”. I just want to see all parties sit down and find a resolution that works for all of us. FAST. This situation is out of control. It is only a matter of time. I just know these lawsuits for which these outside groups have the money to file, will keep us all at a standoff for far too long to see our forests become healthy again. And we will all pay the price. All of us. Those of us who live here as well as those who don’t.

  2. John says:

    Robin, you are right on! Couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. ronroizen9 says:

    Jim Petersen, editor of Evergreen Magazine, sends this reply: It’s unfortunate there aren’t more school superintended like Robin Stanley, who are willing to figure for their communities and their schools. Mr. Stanley has been Mullan, Idaho’s school superintendent for many years. We share a common heritage in Shoshone County’s mining industry.
    Equally unfortunate is the fact that Mr. Stanley hasn’t looked more closely at the pluses and minuses associated with forest collaboration – a hot topic we are featuring in a series of interviews on our website http://www.evergreenmagazine. For reasons of his own, our series has him in a dither.
    I don’t have a “for or against” opinion concerning forest collaboration that even comes close to matching Mr. Stanley’s vitriolic response to the mere fact that we are conducting these interviews. Our series has clearly struck a nerve with people on both sides of the debate. Some fear the loss of money and influence the debate has delivered to their doorsteps since the 1970s. Others, Mr. Stanley included, long for the return of the federal timber sale program developed by the Truman Administration in the mid-1940s.
    Neither of these groups has offered a solution to the worsening forest health crisis facing the western United States. With some 70 million acres of federal forest land in Condition Class 3 [ready to burn] or Condition Class 2 [soon will be ready to burn] there is zero chance that we will be able to log our way out of this mess, even if the public supported the idea, which they don’t.
    Likewise, those who advocate for “leaving forests to nature” aren’t winning any brownie points with publics that are both worried and angry about the west’s wildfire crisis. The serial litigators who have held federal forest management hostage for 20 years will soon be obliged to defend their due process privileges before the Supreme Court. The Justices will be obliged to decide whether due process trumps a wildfire crisis that could render moot every environmental law passed by Congress since it blessed the Wilderness Act in 1964.
    When we launched our forest collaboration investigation last April, our goal was to learn all we could about the process – also congressionally blessed – then lay out its pluses and minuses for the thousands of people who regularly log on to our website. We chose a Question & Answer format so that those we interviewed could speak in their own words. To insure accuracy and completeness, we’ve also insisted that our interviewees read their interviews before we post them on our website.
    My journalistic instincts [52 years in the business] have me wanting to let these Q&A interviews play themselves out on their own merit. Thus far, we’ve interviewed county commissioners, Forest Service personnel, lumbermen and critics. Mr. Stanley is certainly entitled to his opinion – and we’d be willing to add his name to the long list of people who have asked to be interviewed.
    Meanwhile, there are a couple of points Mr. Stanley registered that need clarification. Evergreen is not, nor has it ever been “a leading timber industry magazine.” We are advocates for science-based forestry and forest policy, as are many we know personally in the timber industry. But the “industry” contributes very little funding to our non-profit work.
    Nor are we – in the course of our investigation – encouraging anyone to collaborate with anyone else, as Mr. Stanley implies. It’s true we’ve made introductions where we were asked to do so. It is a service we have long offered to those who ask us to help them. But those with whom we work are intelligent adults who are perfectly capable of making up their own minds about collaboration’s pluses and minuses.
    What cannot be denied by anyone who looks objectively at the collaborative process is that it has brought warring factions to the table in a way nothing else ever has. You have to admire people like lumberman, Duane Vaagen, and conservationist, Mike Petersen, who have found ways to work together on projects of mutual interest and benefit. If you ask them, they will tell you that the biggest barriers they face have been erected by the Forest Service, not serial litigators.
    History is likely to record that the members of the collaborative groups we are interviewing were the outliers who finally forced the forest policy decision-making process back down to the local and regional levels where it resided for a quarter century following World War II.
    Thus, Mr. Stanley’s assertion that collaborators aren’t qualified to advise the Forest Service [which is essentially what collaborators do] strikes me as a bit strange. Am I to assume that he feels the same way about school board members that volunteer their time to his school district? Are these board members similarly unqualified to offer advice and counsel to Mr. Stanley’s office because they aren’t school teachers and don’t have college degrees in education?
    Leaving the West’s national forests in the hands of “the professionals,” as Mr. Stanley advocates, makes no more sense than leaving them in nature’s hands. These forests belong to the public, not the timber industry, serial litigators, county commissioners, school superintendents, the Forest Service or nature.
    The fact that some 70 million acres of the public’s forest estate is in ecological freefall – beyond the Forest Service’s professional grasp – is proof that the federal forest management and policy making processes are broken. On this point, Mr. Stanley and I undoubtedly agree. But he needs to look more closely at the political chemistry that created and sustains these collaboratives. If he does, he will soon discover why the “leave it to nature” crowd is very restless.

  4. Robin Stanley has deviated from his ongoing rant that supporting or participating in collaboratives are akin to “sleeping with the enemy” to an attack on Evergreen Magazine/The Evergreen Foundation for our coverage of the collaborative process and our hope that there may be advantages to this process.

    Evergreen is the same organization that has been working to help his county to gain leverage within existing collaborations and the same organization that has been Mr. Stanley’s source of information and support for years. Mr. Stanley is understandably angry and concerned for his community, but what he fails to grasp is that attacking those who can be and have been of help to you is hardly the best practice for building a platform of credibility and trust. In Mr. Stanley’s world, it appears that any deviation from his viewpoint leaves him free to devalue all work and efforts – regardless of how valuable they were to him before you disagreed with him.

    The idea that what we have without collaboratives is the result of “those trained in the field” “doing right” by communities and forests is a flat out fantasy. In fact, there is very little science or “what is best for the forest and the communities,” coming out of the non-collaborative process at this point in time.

    The brain surgery metaphor is tired and inaccurate. To paint the collaboratives as a cobbled together group of uneducated, untrained community members, “voting” on the future of the forest is irresponsible and misleading. It indicates a lack of understanding about how these collaboratives are formed, how they operate, and the qualifications and skill sets their members bring to the table. At this time, collaboratives are the primary entity pushing the Forest Service and government to accountability in practice and the use – of science and best practices available for forest management.

    To imply “giving someone what they want” and “getting what you want” are mutually exclusive positions is polarizing and indicates not only a limited understanding of collaboratives, but demonstrates a resistance to seeing any other perspectives other than one’s own. Not a great partner recommendation for a successful working relationship…doesn’t make a very good bedfellow either.

    Many of those who oppose collaboratives claim they are doing so to “protect their communities” or to “protect the forest.” In fact it is not the community or the forest they are “protecting” – it’s their agenda and how they believe things “should go” – ignoring the long list of failures they are dragging around all the while blaming everyone and everything else – conveniently overlooking their own unwillingness to try a different approach.

    Mr. Stanley and others have a choice. They can continue to devalue and sabotage something they refuse to participate in, they can insist on different results while doing the same thing, and they can demand something we have been told repeatedly we will not get – while their communities continue to hemorrhage – OR they can find another way to help their communities get what is needed. Until one has taken part in a collaborative for an extended period of time, he or she is not an expert on anything other than what Mr. Stanley invests in – a concept that has not worked any more effectively than his own skewed portrayal of collaboratives.

    Turns out, this is not brain surgery….it is much simpler. We have been sleeping with the enemy for a long time. The enemy is our ignorance, sense of entitlement, and lack of vision and planning.

    We didn’t get into this overnight and won’t get out of it overnight…consider that the time it takes to undo this current crisis may be as long as it took for it to get to this point. We underestimated our opposition and the effectiveness and longevity of the policy changes that began 25 years ago.

    We have been taking subsidies for years and foolishly “hoping” the Government wouldn’t run out of money, we let our communities to stay on the dole while we were busy bargaining for a miracle. We fooled ourselves into believing that “someday” the policies of a sympathetic administration would take us “back to the good old days” We knew it was a slippery slope… and we lost. Game over.

    Now Congress and the Forest Service have abdicated to collaboratives because they do not have the “capacity.” Perhaps this process of providing capacity through collaboratives and communities gives us leverage and builds the platform for increased yields and better management over time?

    Strategically, collaboratives could be the way to get us exactly what we need and say we want…more control over outcomes and increased health of the forest and the community. The process is reducing litigation The catch? It’s work, a lot of work – and while there are no guarantees, the process builds a platform for protocol, success, and templates that can be used again. To that end, small successes can be the building blocks for bigger successes down the road.

    We share in the burden of responsibility for where we sit and demanding “our due” is self-serving, clearly a waste of time and does nothing to solve the problems we are facing. If time is truly of the essence, then we need to claim “our due” and get busy, instead of sitting around whining about what is “owed” us and mourning the way it used to be. That ship has sailed.

    Julia Petersen
    Resource Director, The Evergreen Foundation

  5. Robin Stanley says:

    I have a great deal of respect for the Evergreen Magazine and Mr. Petersen for the exceptional contribution he has made to the timber industry over the last several decades. I know of no one that has contributed more and dedicated more of his life to shining light on the timber industry than Mr. Petersen and the Evergreen Magazine. Unfortunately, however, I do not read the articles in the Evergreen as being neutral but rather slanted to promote collaboratives. And there is no doubt Mr. Petersen has been working at trying to get Shoshone County involved in the collaborative process. But we will have to agree to disagree on the merits of the collaborative process for the reasons I stated in my original post. Jim is wrong however, when he states we do not have a better solution. The solution is to eliminate the ability of one group to veto a project by shopping for a sympathetic judge as has been the case for the past three decades. We will also agree to disagree that lay people have the skills and knowledge to manage a forest. Again I reference the private industry. Would any major timber company really turn the management of their forest over to a group of lay people without training in the field. I think not. So again I ask, why do our national forests deserve less? The collaborative is the only show in town, so if you want to be dealt a hand, you need to play the collaborative game. But I stand by my statement that collaboratives are not the answer to our forest health problem. In another posting later I will address how Shoshone County got the short end of a collaborative process in the past, in which Shoshone County WAS a participant, but was out voted. While we have a large geographical region, we have a small population. And while I cannot say I have served on a collaborative so to speak, I did spend many months working on the Iron Honey Stewardship project which looked exactly like a collaborative, with everyone agreeing except for a couple of environmental groups, only to have the project killed in court. Over a year of meetings and with all factions sitting around the table wasted because of the veto power of any single group. So once again we will all sit around the table and hug and feel good about the process until someone decides they are not happy and challenge it in court, all the while our forests are burning up. If you haven’t read the Karen Coulter post on this blog dated July4th, check out how the environmental community really feels about the collaborative process and what happens if they don’t get their way.

  6. Pingback: Opinion: Why collaboratives are just another failed effort at forest management  | Forest Business Network

  7. Many “major timber companies” have sold their forests to banks who are currently promising a 10 year return on a 30 year investment. Hardly a ringing endorsement. If you are reading our series closely you will find that we are interviewing several major timber companies that support collaboration it because it is reducing litigation, increasing yields, improving forest health, and economically revitalizing communities.

    It is easy to paint with the wide brush of generalizations to make a point, however as is often the case, generalizations are misleading. There is plenty of evidence that collaboratives consist of skilled and qualified stakeholders – to insist this is a group of “lay people” is to demonstrate a lack of understanding about the process and the participants. Devaluing and misrepresenting the qualifications and efforts of stakeholders flies in the face of the need and urgency we are faced with: We are out of time. What is being offered instead? As is the pattern in human nature, there are certainly plenty who have an opinion about the work they did not do.

    It is important to differentiate between collaboratives and the collaborative process. Both are tools but the use of the “collaborative process” is different in that it is a less formal arrangement. As to collaboratives, there are several types; the simplest explanation is that some receive grant funds and some do not. All these permutations are useful and generally as these groups begin to work together they choose the best fit for their project, community, and forest. To refer to these groups and processes as one entity does not educate those seeking accurate information nor does it represent the full spectrum of collaboration itself. Some that are strongly identified with the process but not the body itself, may find being pigeonholed a misrepresentation of their intentions and work. In turn, one may also find that those who have worked to develop a formal collaborative body very much desire that their work and personnel be represented accurately.

    As to stewardships: Stewardships are much more restrictive and not at all the same in process or structure as a collaborative – one of the reasons that collaboratives tend to be more user friendly and successful. A stewardship is in no way “exactly like” a collaborative. Some research in this area might be in order.

    Evergreen has attempted to offer Shoshone County, the county Jim Petersen grew up in and loves – an opportunity to participate and gain leverage in the collaborative process as one of the many solutions to Shoshone’s very real dilemma. Clearly Shoshone and many other counties are running out of options. A quick look at Evergreen’s history will remind you that we have always endorsed the idea that there is plenty of room for alternative workable solutions. Evergreen has never pointed to collaboratives as the only solution. It is a tool and a method…one of many. Supporting collaborative efforts does not indicate a lack of insight or understanding of the problems and challenges.

    Collaboratives and the collaborative process succeed in many areas for a variety of reasons and some fail – also for a variety of reasons. Although a far from a perfect method, collaboratives and the collaborative process are working well enough to not only begin to stem the tide, but to bring awareness and a renewed attention to the issues. Regardless of one’s stance on the issue, this should be considered a constructive and encouraging result. People are now talking about something that is important to many.

    Which brings us to the final issue as to a proposed solution: “The solution is to eliminate the ability of one group to veto a project by shopping for a sympathetic judge.” If that were truly the problem in the simplest of terms, exactly what type of legislation or law change is going to happen in time to save these forests you are defending from the collaboratives?

    Don’t our forests and communities deserve better than to be put on hold while some demand what we have been told again and again we are not going to get? This is a stalemate with no plan and no history of success; and it will quickly begin to infringe on the rights you hold so dear. This “solution” if you will, seems more like a justification for continued table pounding, character assassination, and the self-congratulatory sneering about how those who are engaged in a process – that in part has a directive to create workable solutions for all – are too “kumbaya.”

    A stance that paints negotiation as a weakness, depends on an “us or them” mindset, rejects potential partners based on affiliation or suspected affiliation with an identified enemy – thus isolating members, continuously recounts all betrayals and wrongs, promotes the tacit agreement that there is only one solution and offers no negotiation – does not foster trust and will not be successful in creating desired outcomes. We have 25 years of proof.

    To that end, I would submit that Shoshone County is a proactive, informed entity – a willing and approachable partner for solution based outcomes. The continued portrayal of Shoshone County as the “loser” and “victim” does your county and it’s citizens no favors. The problems we now face were developing long before collaboratives showed up. Making collaboratives the target now for the long standing, collective (and understandable) frustration felt by Shoshone and many other counties is misdirected and will not elevate any cause.

  8. Robin Stanley says:

    If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, there is a good probability it is a duck. We can mince words over what a collaborative does, the process and stewardship, but I believe the bottom line is the same. I have never served on a collaborative so the information I have I received from those who have served or are serving on a collaborative, from the Forest Service, and from what I have read in articles like Karen Coulter’s threat to resort to the courts because she is not pleased with the collaborative outcomes and Chief Tidwell’s statements on how significantly few acres the collaboratives have really treated. ( A five year total of 1.45 million acres and 1.2 billion board feet treated in our total national forest is analogous to throwing a deck chair off the titanic in order to keep it from sinking.) My only hands on experience is stewardship projects and here is what I believe they have in common. If these are inaccurate please call it to my attention.
    First, both are made up by any participants that want to serve. No experience, knowledge, citizenship, age are prerequisites Just show up and be breathing. There is an effort to reach consensus on projects. There are usually votes on projects and those having the majority of support are advanced and float to the top. Controversial projects tend to be left off the table. By the way, this is the same concern Senator Craig had about the Title II RAC projects when he helped write the Craig/Wyden bill. Projects are usually determined by the “vote of the masses”. And while some collaboratives or stewardship projects may have very learned and professional people participating, there is no guarantee they will not be out voted by the greenies.
    Lastly and most significantly, any project approved is still subject to veto power by any individual objector, which can render the total collaborative effort wasted. If these statements are not accurate, please call it to my attention and then I will reassess my opinion on the collaborative and/or collaborative process. But from where I stand it looks like new faces, new names, but the same old game.

    There appears to be a misunderstanding about Shoshone County’s participation in collaboratives. Shoshone County participated in two collaboratives, First the Shoshone County collaborative was active up until about 2013 that takes credit for several small logging projects in the county. Secondly, they participated in the five northern county collaborative. And lastly, Shoshone County Commissioners are in the process of re-establishing the Shoshone County Collaborative as well as continuing to be engaged in the five northern county collaborative.

    With regards to me doing a disservice to my county by continuing to complain about the collaborative, I strongly disagree. The five year plan guidelines established by the Panhandle Collaborate is very unfavorable to Shoshone County. And in the words of Mary Farnsworth, equitable distribution of the logging was not a criteria in the guidelines established by the Panhandle Collaborative. In a post to follow I will document the outcomes of the last three years of harvest as well as the projections for the next years to validate how unfavorably Shoshone County has been treated by the Panhandle Collaborate and how favorably Bonner and Boundary Counties have faired. The data will validate why the Bonner County Commissioner interview in the Evergreen was so complimentary of the collaborative process. His county was one of the winners while Benewah and Shoshone are the two losers.

    My overall concern is that people will buy into the collaborative as the best fix for our national forests and that if we get behind the collaborative process, everything will be fine. While the collaborative IS a good effort at bringing all sides to the table to attempt to resolve issues, I believe that it is a commendable approach to addressing the minor issues with our forests. But we are in a crisis. We need a huge major overhaul and the collaborative is a bandage to an amputated leg. If real solutions are not found, such as Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the U.S. Committee on Natural Resources, effort to curtail the veto power through the courts of objectors, then our forests and rural communities will continue to burn. Collaboratives are not the answer to the forest health issue. I stand by my statements.

  9. Cindy Zapotocky says:

    Awesome article!! Cindy Zapotocky, Spokane

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