'The emphasis is on what's best for the land'Tom Kovalicky, a 30-year veteran of the Forest Service, was the Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor from 1982-1991. He still lives in Grangeville, Idaho, where he is the volunteer chairman of Stewards of the Nez Perce, a collaborative community group working with the Nez Perce National Forest on the Meadow Creek Stewardship Project.
Tom Kovalicky: "I'm excited about these stewardship projects. For me, it's a wonderful opportunity to practice real forestry. What I tried to do was hold onto the remnants and keep the politicians and the PAC (Political Action Committee) groups that make the timber industry's political contributions from destroying the forest. As a forest supervisor, I had to deliver products and build roads as mandated by Congress.
"This stewardship idea shifts the emphasis back to true forestry and land management. The emphasis is on what's best for the land, first and foremost. I think this will help our local economy, too. It will provide some timber to the local mill and employ people practicing good stewardship and restoration work on the ground. It won't require a big investment by the mills, so it should work to the advantage of the independent operators.
"If it turns into a large timber sale program, well, then the Forest Service has missed the boat, because that's not what we're trying to do. The old timber program was skewed toward the big guys, but this stewardship program is an experiment in the other direction."