Montana Gov. Steve Bullock launched the Western Governors’ National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on Tuesday with the announcement that the first three workshops will be held in Montana, Idaho and South Dakota.
The workshops, hosted by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), will play a central role in collecting the information that will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities.
The first workshop on Sept. 20-21 in Missoula, Mont., will include an address by Gov. Bullock and roundtable discussions by experts from across the spectrum of the issue. WGA will host five Initiative workshops in all across the West, said Gov. Bullock, who is taking on this initiative in his role as Chair of WGA. The dates for workshops in Idaho and South Dakota, as well as details on the final two workshops, will soon be available on the WGA website.
“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep workers in our forests, put more logs on trucks, and protect the public land and clean air and water that keep our heritage and economies strong,” Gov. Bullock said at the launch event, which took place at Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake, Montana.
The Governor was introduced by Jim Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director. Additional remarks were offered by: Loren Rose, Chief Operating Officer, Pyramid Mountain Lumber; Jim Stone, Chair of the Blackfoot Challenge; and Dave Schulz, Madison County (Mont.) Commissioner.
“People often talk about forestry issues and the timber industry in numbers of acres, board feet and stream miles restored. We cannot forget that people do that work – people who know how to work in the woods, how to sustainably harvest trees, and how to restore our watersheds,” said Gov. Bullock.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Rose of Pyramid Lumber. “We need to collaborate on these difficult issues and come up with the best compromise.”
“These issues can’t be solved by the Governor’s work alone,” said Stone of the Blackfoot Challenge. “We all need to go to work now.”
To ensure wide involvement, Gov. Bullock noted that WGA will livestream each workshop of the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on the web. There also will be a series of webinars hosted by WGA, featuring experts on forest and rangeland management, to further broaden the dialogue. Video of the workshop sessions and the webinars will subsequently be available on a website dedicated to the initiative to be launched on the WGA website in the coming weeks.
The National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative will examine forest management programs for their strengths and weaknesses; create a mechanism for states and land managers to share best practices; and investigate collaborative forest landscape restoration. This process will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities and encourage more effective collaboration. "We can't wait for Washington, D.C. when it comes to forest health," explained Gov. Bullock.
“One of the major challenges Western states face is the difficult task of coordinating federal, state, and private lands in a responsible and sustainable manner,” said Gov. Bullock. “But I’m confident that when we all roll up our sleeves and begin to put in the hard work, our collective efforts will achieve amazing results all across our western landscape.”