WORKING ON COMMON GROUND FOR 20 YEARS
In 2002, a group of 50 individuals from the local community, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, timber industry, conservationists, labor representatives, and Forest Service officials assembled in the forest to explore whether any areas of common ground could be found between folks with very different perspectives.
After much discussion, they cautiously agreed that projects to restore previously managed plantations, failing roads and degraded creeks could be the key to getting people back to work.
WORKING ON COMMON GROUND
Tensions ran high back then. The gridlock over logging mature and old-growth forests had effectively shut down timber production on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The forest sat neglected and forest industry jobs all but disappeared in East Lewis County. The communities grappled with severe socio-economic issues: deficient budgets for schools, population decline, loss of family-wage jobs, and the struggle to recreate vibrant towns.
In 2002, a Gifford Pinchot National Forest assessment found that 45-50% of the stands on the forest were between 40 and 120 years old. Many of these stands were overstocked plantations which lacked the structural complexity critical to both wildlife and overall stand health. The lack of active management to restore these plantations hindered recovery of endangered species, such as the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and salmon and trout species.
In February of 2003,
the Gifford Pinchot Collaborative Working Group
(now called Pinchot Partners) was officially born.
Each person set forth their vision of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and surrounding communities in the year 2103.
Local residents told of their desire for livable communities that afford their children the opportunity to grow up and raise families next to “the most beautiful forest in the world.” Labor and industry representatives talked about the need for living wage jobs working in the woods to help supply the ever-growing demand for wood products in the U.S.
We heard a common desire to know that wolverine, lynx and wolves roam the landscape, surrounded by a healthy and resilient forest that provides clean air, clean water and a diversity of plants, fish and wildlife.
This powerful exercise inspired everyone involved. The various groups recognized that our visions were not only compatible, but that combined, they created a stronger, more integrated, and ultimately more sustainable vision than we could accomplish by simply pursuing our various individual “special” interests.
It is this shared vision that has inspired trust between people who were once adversarial, and today the Pinchot Partners use this vision to solve problems together.
Pinchot Partners 15th anniversary celebration, August 2017
Pinchot Partners' ARCHIVES