BOISE — Idaho Gov. Brad Little spoke briefly about the future of Idaho’s forests and rural communities in the time of COVID-19. He delivered his remarks via Zoom as part of a keynote speech during the Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership (IFRP) conference Tuesday afternoon. 

As part of Little’s remarks, he noted that rural communities are being hit hard with the loss of tourism revenue and that possible large scale forest restoration work can help provide some economic benefits. 

John Robison, the Idaho Conservation League’s public lands director said, “We appreciate Gov. Little taking time out of his busy schedule managing the COVID-19 crisis to talk about the need to work together to protect our forests and the communities that depend on them.”

More than 120 people came together at the IFRP Zoom conference to discuss ways to coordinate restoration work and expand shared stewardship. The workshop brought together diverse stakeholders who have partnered to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration in Idaho for over a decade. There are now over 10 forest restoration collaboratives in Idaho. The IFRP was formed to connect and support these collaborative forest restoration efforts across the state. 

Under the Shared Stewardship program, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and U.S. Forest Service have been working together to identify areas near communities with high fire risk and forest health issues, and then coordinating contracts to treat these landscapes. IDL has created three new positions in partnership with the Forest Service to coordinate these Shared Stewardship efforts with federal, tribal, non-governmental organizations, communities and universities. 

The IFRP is a coalition of organizations and individuals that have come together to support collaborative forest restoration in Idaho. The IFRP is composed of forestry professionals, timber industry leaders and conservationists. Partners include ICL, Society of American Foresters (SAF) Snake River Chapter, The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, Trout Unlimited, Riley Stegner and Associates, the Langdon Group and the Idaho Forest Group.

ICL is a partner in the IFRP and works with 10 collaboratives throughout the state to restore Idaho’s forests.