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Big step

| July 1, 2005 12:00 AM

A week ago, a coalition of diverse interests took the first steps toward solving some of the public lands management issues that have long divided the county.

It's a first step toward resolving the issue of the roadless lands management. And its something that is going to have to happen in the next couple of months. The governor wants recomendations from all the timber counties in Montana.

But it was a step toward collaboration and cooperation.

We are entering new ground and shouldn't be waiting for old rhetorical shoes to drop. Instead, participants should consider how they could accept the other's position and then work toward compromises or consensus. Remember consensus is a situation you don't agree with but can live with for the sake of the effort moving forward. We're going to need some of that from both sides.

Wilderness cannot be ignored. Outside interests won't allow it. Lincoln County residents can derail those outside pressures by coming up with reasonable alternatives of our own. In some ways it might be a way to turn the tables on those groups.

All in all, it was a remarkable first meeting from which neither side expected to walk away with the agreement that was reached.

There's no reason to expect subsequent efforts come to similar results. We have more to gain from to this type of approach than lose.

— Roger Morris