Collaboration 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 volunteers overseeing more than 7 million 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 discussed 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."
The 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. 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.
Watch videos of all workshop sessions:
- Welcome, Introductory Remarks: James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director; Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho; Jim Lyons, U.S. Department of the Interior.
- Roundtable: Forest Management Challenges in Idaho: David Groeschl, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL); Bob Boeh, Idaho Forest Group; Will Whelan, The Nature Conservancy; Shawn Keough, Associated Logging Contractors-Idaho.
- Roundtable: Rangeland Challenges in Western States – Wildfire and Habitat Conservation: Don Kemner, Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Jeremy Maestas, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Mike Courtney, BLM Twin Falls District Manager; Brenda Richards, Owyhee County Rancher; Allen Rowley, USFS Rangeland Management Director.
- Case Study: Power of Partnerships – Rangeland Fire Protection Associations: Julia Sullens, IDL; Steve Acarregui, BLM Fire and Aviation Directorate; Charles Lyons, RFPA Member, Percy Ranch; Darcy Helmick, RFPA Member.
- Case Study: Power of Partnerships – Good Neighbor Authority Success: David Groeschl, IDL; Peg Polichio, IDL GNA Contractor; Cheryl Probert, USFS Nez-Clearwater Forest Supervisor; Zoanne Anderson, Maggie Creek Area Manager, IDL.
- Roundtable: Lessons Learned - Assembling Successful Good Neighbor Authority Projects: Dawe, USFS Acting Director of Forest Management; Craig Foss, IDL; Keith Lannom, USFS Payette Forest Supervisor; Bob Boeh, Idaho Forest Group.
- Day 1 Recap: Tom Schultz, Director, Idaho Department of Lands.
- Roundtable: 2014 Farm Bill Authorities’ Utilization in Idaho: Kelsey Delaney, Council of Western State Foresters; Mary Farnsworth, USFS Acting Deputy Regional Forester; David Anderson, Natural Resource Results; Mikal Moore, National Wild Turkey Foundation.
- Case Study: Facilitating Forest Restoration Through Collaborative Processes: Toni Hardesty, The Nature Conservancy; Liz Johnson-Gebhardt, Priest Community Forest Connection; Alex Irby, Clearwater Basin Collaborative; Rick Tholan, Payette Collaborative; Gina Knudson, USFS Salmon-Challis National Forest; John Robison, Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership.
- Roundtable: Impacts of Forests and Rangelands on Local Governments: Dennis Becker, University of Idaho; Gordon Cruickshank, Valley County Commissioner; Joe Merrick, Owyhee County Commissioner; Don Ebert, Clearwater County Commissioner; Terry Kramer, Twin Falls County Commissioner.