- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - A large-scale timber sale and rehabilitation project recently approved by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest still faces opposition from the Nez Perce Tribe over environmental concerns.

The 44,000-acre Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project is backed by members of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, made up of county commissioners, loggers and environmentalists, according to The Lewiston Tribune (https://bit.ly/1OEaKKm). The project would be implemented over several years and its goals include harvesting 85 million board feet of timber and improving fish and wildlife habitat.

“The ultimate implementation is critically important after the long, extensive and rigorous environmental analysis that has gone into this project,” said Bill Higgins, a member of the collaborative, representing Idaho Forest Group. “It’s also going to represent a critical source of supply for local saw mills, really for the next decade.”

The tribe is concerned the logging will negatively impact Clear Creek, the water source for a fish hatchery it manages.

“We have such an important partnership with the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest related to restoration work, it’s just a disappointment that we can’t work together on this type of project,” said David Johnson, director of the tribe’s Fisheries Division.

Johnson said the tribe has unsuccessfully tried to get the forest to fund an alternative water source for the hatchery that could be used if Clear Creek becomes unusable.

“The fact we are putting those fish at risk every day for the next 10-plus years is something we think needs to be addressed,” he said.

The Idaho Conservation League’s Jonathan Oppenheimer said the organization looks forward to discussing challenges surrounding the Clear Creek project.

“There is little doubt it will continue to face some challenges and from Idaho Conservation Leagues’ perspective I’m sure we will be engaged in discussions about those challenges and look forward to those discussions,” he said.


Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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