The Idaho Forest Congress Steering Committee has been formed to determine next steps to follow on the Seventh American Forest Congress. The steering committee includes representatives from industry, academia, organized labor, state and federal resource management agencies, and environmental organizations. At the group's first meeting on April 26, 1996 it decided not to hold a "mini-7AFC" in Idaho, but rather to do something tangible on the ground.
The group's second meeting was held on July 22, 1996: the major focus was on chosing a project to promote/support the 7AFC vision and principles from four alternatives (two are ongoing projects, two are proposed pilot projects). The decision was made to apply the Forest Congress process to the North Idaho Forest Connection project which, in combination with the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP), will be used to amend/revise the Nez Perce, Panhandle, and Clearwater National Forest plans.
The Steering Committee met several times in the fall of 1996, and--looking ahead to the new year--decided to host an informational meeting on February 10, 1997 at the University of Idaho (Moscow, ID) to reassess interest in the project the Committee identified in July. The approximately 100 individuals who attended the pre-Forest Congress roundtables in northern Idaho and eastern Washington, and/or the February 1996 Seventh American Forest Congress gathering in Washington, DC were sent invitations to this meeting.
The attendees at the February meeting decided the Idaho Forest Congress delegation ought to hold a one day workshop in which Upper Columbia River Basin project specialists can present data from the study and the workshop participants can discuss the "preferred alternative" of the project's draft environmental impact statement and provide comments to the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
The workshop took place on Saturday, September 13, 1997 at the University of Idaho in Moscow. In the spirit of the Seventh American Forest Congress, the workshop organizers sought to attract a diverse group to the event. According to a report from an attendee, the 30 people participated in the day-long workshop included a high school teacher and three students, several people from both the management and labor sides of the timber industry, two county commissioners, a few representatives of the environmental community, four academics, and several non-industrial private forest owners. Key issues from the ICBEMP draft environmental impact statement and preferred alternative were discussed, and the group gauged its levels of agreement on the various issues. The most contentious issues were road densities/closures/obliteration, while there was agreement that the top priority issue should be watershed restoration. The results of the meeting have been presented to federal agency representatives.
For more information about ongoing Forest Congress activities in Idaho, please contact Stefany Bales, ID Forest Congress Steering Committee, 220 East 5th, Suite 212A, Moscow, ID 83843, Phone: 208-882-0507, Fax: 208-882-7240, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org