Idaho's Clearwater Basin Collaborative meeting to consider proposals for land management projects aimed at improving habitat, forest health in 1.4 million acre Selway-Middle Fork region

LEWISTON, Idaho , August 19, 2011 (press release) – Members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) work group will meet next week in Lapwai to consider proposals for land management projects aimed at improving habitat and forest health in central Idaho. The citizen-led CBC was convened three years ago by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo in an effort to find common ground on land and forest management projects that will enhance habitat for elk, fish and other species; improve forest health, prevent catastrophic fires and promote recreation and conservation ideas in the Clearwater River Basin.

During the meeting, Crapo and the work group members will review plans by the U.S. Forest Service for forest projects funded in part by the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). These projects in the 1.4 million acre Selway-Middle Fork region would integrate new employment opportunities in the forest by thinning trees, removing weeds and improving habitat. Economic and environmental concerns rank high in the work group’s planning, which may include discussions on how to best protect selected rivers and landscapes in the region. Upon its creation in 2008, CBC leaders predicted that ten years of landscape restoration and related work could create more than 300 jobs in central Idaho.

“We are on target to create jobs, improve habitat and reduce the risk of devastating fires and I appreciate the efforts of the collaborative work group in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service,” Crapo said in advance of the meeting. “We are truly raising the bar on collaboration and cooperation given the diverse makeup of the work group and the ideas we are contemplating for improving the economic and environmental health of the Clearwater Basin.”

In addition to addressing the economic and environmental goals of the CFLRP and the Selway-Middle Fork project, reducing the risk of devastating wildfires on public lands is key to the initiatives. As such, Senator Crapo will visit a group of U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers based out of Grangeville, to discuss their firsthand knowledge of fighting major wildfires on public lands.

Crapo will also tour the Idaho Forest Group mill in Grangeville to discuss active management plans for area forests. He will be joined by U.S. Forest Service Region 1 Deputy Regional Forester Jane Cottrell, Nez Perce/Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell, CBC Co-Chairs Alex Irby and Dale Harris and many members of the CBC work group for many of the meetings and discussions.

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