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LETTER: Work Collaboratively on Forest Plan
A recent letter to the editor from Keith Hammer in the Flathead Beacon (Dec. 11: “Lack of Objectivity from Forest Service”) chastised the Flathead National Forest. Hammer stated that comments made to the Whitefish Range Partnership (WRP) demonstrated favoritism.

The WRP met over the course of a year and a half to develop a collaborative recommendation to the Forest Service regarding future management of the North Fork. The group was made up of a broad spectrum of interests from wilderness to logging, motorized recreation to horseback users. The common linkage among all of us – whether we lived, worked, or played in the North Fork – was that we loved it, and know it well.

Mr. Hammer is wrong in accusing the Forest Service of favoritism. The Forest Service made no commitment to the Whitefish Range Partnership that they would adopt our recommendation intact.

As a member of the Whitefish Range Partnership, I contend that the forest supervisor’s comments were a reflection of the quality of the recommendation the WRP made that addressed the broad spectrum of issues in the North Fork, and the fact that it was a citizen-based recommendation from people who love and respect the North Fork. It is not perfect, but it is a good starting point.

I am engaged in the Forest Plan meetings that have begun recently along with Mr. Hammer. I truly hope he is able to come to the table and work collaboratively to develop recommendations for the management of the Flathead National Forest, and not simply voice objections.

Allen Chrisman
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