Collaboration in the Methow

The greatest good for the greatest number over the long run.  This mantra comes from the first Chief of the US Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot and guides the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Service as they manage public lands.   When it comes to managing grazing on public land in the Methow Valley, this seemingly straight foreword statement is quickly complicated as the Forest Services balances their multiple use mandate to permit grazing and protect forest growth and ecosystem health.  Environmental groups in the Methow Valley protest grazing on public land because cattle inadvertently squash fish eggs by stepping on them, killing an essential element of the ecosystem.  Other contentious issues such as timber treatments and forest fire prevention cause internal tension as employees with varying backgrounds disagree on priorities and work through solutions.  When discussing how to manage these diverse opinions, Forest Service employees such as Wildlife Biologist Kent Woodruff and Fire Management Officer Matt Ellis advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration with an emphasis on building relationships in the community.  With a team consisting of foresters, biologists, botanists, timber sale experts and fire managers, the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Service works within the constraint of insufficient funding and conflicting public opinions to use their vast array of backgrounds, opinions, and knowledge as an asset to get a comprehensive understanding of issues, follow their mandate, and find collaborative solutions.