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Collaboration is essential for natural resource conservation

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Working Lands Roundtable, an extension of natural resource policy work for the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) met virtually Oct. 21 in the Local Groups in Land Management webinar. The webinar focused on cross-boundary and multi-disciplinary resource management issues many western states face. 

Idaho Governor and WGA Vice Chairman Brad Little presented opening remarks addressing the importance of collaboration in natural resources management and the contributions of local communities to those efforts. 

Collaborative efforts

“Good resource management in the West requires that people are not disenfranchised because they don’t have a voice in how they manage the federal lands,” says Little. 

Although there are many differing opinions and interests in natural resource and public land management, Little comes from an understanding perspective. 

“If we have a shared goal of where we want to be, it really helps collaborative work,” he notes. “Conservation groups, wildlife groups, loggers, ranchers and the recreation community are all involved in the solutions and the planning that needs to take place for efficiently managed land.” 

Little explains what happens on the soil, the water and the vegetation is how resilient watersheds, healthy communities and great wildlife populations are created for all to enjoy. He also mentions the importance of conversation and collaboration as fires rage in the West. 

“We have been blessed in Idaho compared to what’s happened in the surrounding states,” he shares. “What has happened is terrible, but it has brought a lot of people to the table.” 

“Where do we see the next real susceptible point for a catastrophic wildfire? And what do we do about that?” Little continues. “There is a lot of good work going forward. It’s a tragedy a lot of loss had to occur for this work.” 

Wildlife management, vegetation management, collaborative conservation, invasive species control and  land management data will help to efficiently manage forest health and minimize large, disruptive fires. 

Community involvement 

Collaborative work for roadless lands, the Good Neighbor Authority and instating Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, allowing ranchers to act as first-responders to wildfires, are examples of progress Idaho has made towards making land management a community effort. 

“The bottom line is these efforts save an enormous amount of resources, not only for the local area but for the state and federal government,” says Little. “Any big fires we can stop will save resources for other fires, and it keeps the local connection.” 

“A collaborative solution adds resilience, momentum and velocity to everything else we need to do,” says Little. “The crisis of catastrophic fires continues to ravage the West. These tools and this initiative by WGA are important and will be even more important moving forward.” 

Ensuring a sustainable western landscape, starting with soil and water, gives all stakeholders a say, Little notes. 

The governor was followed in the webinar by a discussion including representatives of the Western Landowners Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and Colorado Counties, Inc. Lesli Alison, executive director for the Western Landowners Alliance noted common-ground solutions are found through on going conservation conversations.

Executive Director of Colorado Counties, Inc. John Swartout shares many answers for public lands policy and management are found in local and state governments. Garth Fuller of The Nature Conservancy added the Working Lands Roundtable through the WGA makes cross-boundary projects and collaborations possible. 

Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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