RELATED STORY: Prineville leaders weigh in on collaboration versus coordination as public lands strategy.
The idea was to ask Congress to create a new national recreation area and expand existing wilderness areas.
“Forest management is very controversial, and if you get a diverse group of people agreeing on something, you’re kind of a fool not to do what they propose,” says Susan Jane Brown, a staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center.
“Collaboration does enough to keep the timber industry afloat, and it means the Forest Service doesn’t get sued anywhere near as much by people like me.” In Crook County, the Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative has worked to allow commercial thinning on thousands of acres and prescribed burns on thousands more acres.
“Ultimately the Forest Service is going to have to hash it all out.” Coordination has been on the federal books for decades, but rural counties are increasingly turning to it with heightened interest.
Members say the pledge, pray and then get down to politics.
It has also worked to improve riparian conditions, fostered jobs and preserved clean water.
“Collaboration is really a trust exercise,” says Brown.
At worst, coordination threatens to pick at the scabs of old timber-war wounds or even to complicate widely respected efforts already in place that benefit industry, conservation and recreation alike.
“Coordination is often pitched to pro-extractive industry folks in rural areas as ‘set up a committee of your friends, write a plan, get it adopted by the county, and then you are in charge of the Forest Service,'” says Erik Fernandez, Oregon Wild’s wilderness program manager.