Conservation effort sets priorities
By DOUG WARNOCK
For the Capital Press
Forest resources, arid lands habitat and Puget Sound health were the areas selected as priorities for the Washington State Coordinated Resource Management program.
Washington's CRM Executive Committee and CRM Task Group met together to establish program priorities. Reduced funding and loss of a full-time program coordinator precipitated the need to streamline activities and focus on high-priority needs.
The three areas deemed of greatest need were:
* Forest resources, emphasizing water issues.
* Arid lands habitat, focusing on sage grouse and endangered fish.
* Puget Sound health, emphasizing improved water quality.
The CRM Task Group is implementing a plan to assist new groups organized to address issues in the three priority areas, while continuing to support existing CRM groups across the state. The Task Group is led by Kevin Guinn, Natural Resources Conservation Service range management specialist, and facilitated by Ray Ledgerwood, Washington Conservation Commission Program Facilitator.
Coordinated resource management is a collaborative approach to resolving issues and improving management of land and water resources. The approach has been in existence in Washington state for over 50 years and has resulted in improved health of soil and water resources across the state.
A group in the Tenmile Watershed of Whatcom County stabilized stream banks and improved fish habitat. It involved local dairies, poultry producers, fruit and vegetable farmers and many community members.
A program in Klickitat County resulted in the development of 30 springs as water sources for wildlife and livestock, installation of 50 miles of fence to protect riparian areas and trees planted on 100,000 acres for forest renewal.
These are just two examples of successful programs.
Planning for any program is done by the local people who are responsible for managing the land and who have the best knowledge of the situation. Resources of the State CRM Executive Committee and the state CRM Task Group are available to support local groups as needed.
The program planning process empowers local people to solve land use and natural resource issues through collaboration. It brings people together, enhancing communications and reducing conflicts, to help find common ground while working toward the achievement of mutual goals.
Consensus is the basis for success in planning. The approach works because planning together across ownership lines and management boundaries results in better resource health, helps people meet their objectives and minimizes conflict among participants. While there may be a difference in how individuals view a problem or situation, all have an interest in the land's well-being and can find mutual objectives for its benefit.
The CRM Executive Committee is composed of the heads of the state and federal agencies associated with land and water resources. The CRM Task Group includes representatives of the same state and federal agencies involved in the Executive Committee, as well as several members at large. All are dedicated to enhancing the health and well-being of natural resources in the state.
Doug Warnock, retired from Washington State University Extension, now lives on a ranch in the Touchet River Valley where he consults and writes on ranch management.
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