The Forest Service has been inviting people to help create a vision for how the Salmon-Challis National Forest should be managed as part of the forest plan revision we began in early 2017. We are grateful that many people have taken the time to listen and share ideas, science, and even frustrations, and invite more people to participate.
Forging a new forest plan is an opportunity for everyone to work together. There is a reason 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 with these approaches; 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.
This kind of work is not new to central Idaho. People with diverse interests have been engaged in the hard and often frustrating work of finding common ground when it comes to public lands management. The Salmon-Challis 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 re-imagine what forest management could look like. 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 can help 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 that mutual benefits will be derived.
Charles A. Mark
Salmon-Challis National Forest