The failure of the collaborative model confirmed

Editor’s note:  A new blog post from NWAF! member Robin Stanley.

I know it is small of me to be one of those “I Told You So” people, but here I go.  I told you so.  Nanner!!  Nanner!  Nanner!!  I Told You So!  Last June I wrote a blog criticizing the collaborative model and the Evergreen Magazine’s numerous interviews supporting the collaborative approach to forest management.  My objections stated at the time and still today, are twofold.  First, the structure of the collaborative usually requires consensus that ultimately forces serious projects off the table in exchange for more “middle of the road” projects.

My second objection, and stronger, is that there is still a “Veto” power by either extreme group.  After all is said and done, any one individual or group, can still kill a project in court.  So nothing has really changed except for the collaborative participants, that pat each other on the back for all their good work, only to have it killed either in objections or by the courts.

Two interviews, in particular, were very supportive of the collaborative model.  One was by one of the Vaagen Brothers, representing their timber company, and a second article by a representative from Cramer Fish Sciences.  Both articles advocated the benefits of the collaborative model.    

Ironically, in an article published in the November 7th Northwest section of the Spokesman Review it was reveled that the Vaagen Brothers had been awarded the 54,000 acre A to Z restoration project by the collaborative.  And Vaagen Brothers then awarded Cramer Fish and Science a million dollars to do the environmental review.  HUMMMMM!!!.  I guess that might explain why Vaagen Timber Company and Cramer Fish and Science were so supportive of the collaborative process.  They were the winners.  Some of the losers are the senior citizens, the hunters, the fishermen, the huckleberry pickers, the handicapped, and those that cannot afford access to the 200,000 plus acres that were traded into wilderness (non motorized)  as part of the compromise package. And by the way, only Congress can make a wilderness area.  But it appears a few individual sitting around a collaborative table can circumvent Congress in these collaborative deals.

But here is the real kicker.  This is the Nanner Nanner, and the ” I Told You So” part.  According to the article, Phase I of the project has been challenged by the Kootenai County Alliance.  So Phase One has been withdrawn by the Forest Service.  That doesn’t necessarily kill the project.  It is just another hoop.  But this is just the first phase and only 6000 acres.  Imagine what the Kootenai County Alliance will do when the remaining 48,000 acres hit the table.  All the work and effort by the collaborative will be for nothing if the Kootenai County Alliance, or any other radical fringe group, has their way.

So maybe more compromises will be made and needed projects will continue to be watered down.  And those on the winning side will continue to advocate for the collaborative while the losers will continue to complain about the flawed process.  In the meantime, our national forests will continue to burn, our communities will continue to smell the smoke and have sore eyes, wild life killed, habitat destroyed, watersheds devastated, floods and landslides in the spring, and human property and lives lost while the collaborative believers sit around the collaborative table looking for more compromises. But until the rules change, only little non-controversial projects will ever be approved.   And with the condition of our forests, that is exactly what we do Not need when it comes to national forest management plans for the future.

— Robin Stanley

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