FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federal agencies to hold listening session on collaborative cooperation
Members of the NE Washington Forestry Coalition will attend to share their success
The Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and other federal agency officials will be in Spokane tomorrow to learn about cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships in what is the first of at least two dozen "listening sessions" to be held around the country.
The Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and other federal
agency officials will be in Spokane tomorrow to learn about cooperative
conservation and environmental partnerships in what is the first of at
least two dozen “listening sessions” to be held around the country.
of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition will be present at the
Spokane session to share their success stories in creating a new model
of cooperation in the management of our national forests. The
Coalition has shown that there is indeed common ground within a broad
cross section of individuals and organizations from both the timber
industry and the conservation community. For five years this Coalition
has gathered loggers, mill owners, educators, professional foresters,
environmentalists, business owners, local governments and citizens at
large in an effort to break the deadlock over public forest management
practices. The Coalition is committed to finding workable solutions to
challenges facing national forest management.
has found that when a diverse group of individuals get away from
disagreements and discover common interests, then the group can focus
on finding solutions to our natural resource problems,” said Lloyd
McGee, president of the Coalition. “We all want to see these forests
restored to a healthy condition. It isn’t ‘us versus them’, anymore.
What a better use of our energy.”
“We’ve spent five years
building trust between the environmentalists, the small log industry
and the Forest Service,” said Duane Vaagen, owner of Vaagen Bros.
Lumber Company. “Now we need the agencies to step up with funding to
get these fuels reduction projects through the public process. When
the Coalition agrees with a project, it stands a much better chance of
not being appealed.”
“In northeastern Washington, we are
at the leading edge of what we hope is a new trend of collaborative
solutions in our public forests,” said Tania Ellersick, of the Lands
Council and member of the Coalition. “The experience thus far makes me
optimistic that community-based collaborative forestry efforts will
continue to grow across the West to resolve old disputes, address
ecological needs, and benefit communities.”
from Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition will be available to take
questions at the listening session, to be held at the Spokane
Convention Center, on August 9th, beginning at 10 AM.
Information on the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition:
Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition has brought mill owners,
loggers, private landowners, the environmental community, local
government, educators, and citizens at large to the same table with the
Forest Service and the WA DNR in order to work with one another in
collaboration on issues within the Colville National Forest. The
mission of this coalition is to demonstrate the full potential of
restoration forestry to enhance forest health, public safety, and
community economic vitality. The Coalition formed in 2001 with the hope
that including diverse perspectives in a collaborative fashion would
minimize litigation and gridlock and facilitate exemplary forest
Overcoming initial distrust among environmental
groups, commercial interests, and the Forest Service required years of
relationship building. During that time, the parties recognized
contentious subjects such as ancient forests and new road construction,
and learned to focus on common interests rather than individual
positions. As a result the Coalition has been aggressively working to
protect communities from wildfire, restore damaged forests and create
positive relations between very disparate groups.
Examples of collaborative projects on the Colville National Forest include:
Quartzite - This was the Coalition’s initial involvement in the collaborative work on a significant project of over 4,000 acres. This project is now being prepared for a stewardship project.
Bangs Wildland-Urban Interface project
- This project is located south of Kettle Falls and extends south to
the National Forest Boundary with lands of the Confederated Tribes of
the Colville Indian Reservation. The NEW Forestry Coalition recently
gave the Forest Service a high level of support because the project was
focused around communities, did not have new road construction, and did
not include old growth. As a result, around 1,200 million board feet of
timber will be removed, and the project will proceed with the support
and help of the coalition.