The Forest Service has been inviting interested people to help create a vision for how the Salmon-Challis National Forest should be managed as part of a forest plan revision that we began in early 2017. We are grateful that so many people have taken the time to listen and share ideas, science and even frustrations, and we invite more people to participate.
Forging a new forest plan is an opportunity for everyone who uses and cares about the Salmon-Challis National Forest to work together. There is a reason why the Forest Service emphasizes intense public involvement, coordination with local governments and tribes and tools like collaboration. This agency and the communities it serves have experienced progress in addressing challenging conditions and situations when those approaches have been employed; these discussions are how a creative path forward gets hammered out. Conflict among those who care deeply about the Salmon-Challis National Forest for very different but equally legitimate reasons is inevitable. Working through those differences takes time, but is essential to addressing today’s issues and tomorrow’s challenges.
This kind of work is not new to central Idaho. People with diverse interests—even longstanding feuds—have been engaged in the hard and often frustrating work of finding common ground when it comes to public lands management. The Salmon-Challis National Forest and communities broke through a cycle of constant litigation thanks to the persistent work of the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group. Local citizens, elected officials, environmental groups, wildlife advocates and business owners struggled together to reimagine what forest management could look like on the Salmon-Challis. The result is a healthier, more fire-resilient forest, better wildlife habitat and economic and social stability through improved sustainability for local and regional mills.
The Forest Service remains optimistic that through forest plan revision we all can help to create improved relationships, not just between the Forest Service and the people that it serves but among communities and neighbors. The Forest Service appreciates all of you who are investing time and energy in envisioning how the Salmon-Challis National Forest can help create jobs, sustain our clean water and abundant fish and wildlife and connect people to nature. People care about the future of this forest. We are committed to listening to any group or individual with ideas about forest plan revision and hope that an environment of mutual respect will prevail so mutual benefits will be derived from working together.
If you have not yet gotten involved and would like to be added to our mailing list, go to bit.ly/scnfforestplanhome or call 208-756-5100. If you would like a member of the planning team to meet with your group, drop us a note at SM.FS.SCNF-PlanRev@usda.gov.
Charles A. Mark is supervisor of the Salmon-Challis National Forest.