Regarding Ray Ring's story "Thinking Outside the Timber Box": While I think the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership is a good step and a grand idea in broad terms, what Ring missed is that the Partnership group barely tried to include county commissioners and others (HCN, 7/20/09). If the point of a collaborative approach is to bring all the interests in, then make the effort. Don't blow them off and then tell the world you have the best thing since sliced bread. What the Partnership did was forge an agreement and then pull up the drawbridge — excluding anyone outside their group. Now the Partnership is trying to legislate forest planning. That could lead to all sorts of unintended and hard-to-fix problems if management direction for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge is set in stone. Ring seems to be so biased against the Forest Service that he didn't hear or care to report on caring professionals who are trying to do right through the maze of conflicting laws, policies, court precedents and public opinion.
Jack de Golia
Ray Ring responds:
I reported that the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership's process was not as open as other collaboratives in the West. I also reported that the partnership negotiated some terms to earn endorsements from several rural county governments. Granite County commissioners, for instance, reiterated their support at the July 17 press conference where Sen. Jon Tester announced his wilderness-timber legislation, which is largely based on the partnership's work. I didn't intend to insult the Forest Service's dedicated staffers. They've been assigned an impossible task, underfunded and torn in all directions by the interest groups. Many people think it's time to try experiments like the one the partnership is attempting.