U.S. Forest Service panel discussion in Silverthorne Sept. 16 | SummitDaily.com

U.S. Forest Service panel discussion in Silverthorne Sept. 16

Conservation Colorado hosts members of the local forest and government for a panel discussion with former U.S. Forest Service deputy chief Jim Furnish at Silverthorne’s North Branch Library from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16.

Hear the inside story of Furnish’s personal journey as he helped reshape the Forest Service with the help of a bird and a fish — from an agency focused almost entirely on “getting out the cut” to one that seeks a balance with the environment. After rising through the ranks of the Forest Service since 1965, Furnish, as supervisor of the Siuslaw National Forest in 1994, radically changed course, steering managers who had for decades been ringing up substantial income for the agency, but also racking up sizeable environmental deficits, in a new direction.

Furnish repurposed staff reduced harvesting levels, closed down logging roads, restored battered riparian habitat and once-fertile estuaries and protected endangered species, in turn building a management framework whose principal goal was the regeneration of the natural forest. Furnish was appointed deputy chief of the Forest Service in 1999 before retiring after 34 years of service.

Aside from Furnish, who will read from his new memoir “Toward a Natural Forest,” panel members will include Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, Dillon District ranger Bill Jackson and Josh Kuhn, field organizer for Conservation Colorado. Excerpts from the new video documentary “Seeing the Forest,” about the West Coast national forest’s transition in the wake of the spotted owl crisis, will also be shown and explored during the two-hour event.

There are currently two opposing forces operating in the ongoing debate over the role and place of the Forest Service. On one side is the drive for the commercial loggers and the other originates with the more environmentally-focused argument that hopes to maintain this precious resource in as natural a condition as possible. Finding a reasonable balance, Furnish argues, is the key for achieving a civil, productive dialogue between these two contrasting interests.

The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.

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