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Gov. Otter pushes for high-value solutions to forest, rangeland issues at Idaho workshop of Chairman's Initiative

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Gov Otter at WGA Boise WorkshopGovernor OtterCollaboration was the centerpiece of Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's message to attendees at the second workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

The Governor cited the creation of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) in Idaho as an example. Before 2012 it was illegal for ranchers to fight fires. The Governor, legislature, and federal and state fire agencies subsequently created the RFPAs, which have now grown to eight districts with nearly 300 voluntreers overseeing more than 7 milion acres.

Gov. Otter also emphasized finding projects of value on which to collaborate. "People talk to me all the time about the cost of doing things and I understand cost. But when someone comes to me and explains the value of something, that really gets my interest. So I want you all to discuss all of your ideas for improving land management and let's find those with the greatest value."

Jim Lyons, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management, also Jim Lyons WGAJim Lyonsdiscussed collaboration's role in blunting the impact of wildfires and invasive species, noting "these are not public land issues or private land issues; they are resource issues that know no political or administrative boundaries."

And Lyons reminded the audience of the reason why this work is so important: "Research has shown that healthy landscapes are more resilient to the impacts of climate, drought and fire. Healthy landscapes improve habitat and connectivity, reducing the risks that species become threatened or endangered."

Jeremy Maestas at WGA Jeremy Maestas of NRCSThe speeches opened the two-day (Oct. 20-21) workshop, the second of five hosted by the Western Governors' Association across the West for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's central policy initiative as Chair of WGA. (Read, download Boise agenda) WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury announced that the next workshop will be hosted by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Dec. 1-2 in Deadwood, S.D.

Look below to find links to watch videos of all workshop sessions:

Read, download the agenda

Register now for WGA's 2016 Winter Meeting Dec 13-14 in San Diego, Calif. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.