Forest restoration helps heal Tongass' scars

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The unlikely alliance (of contractors and environmental groups) is being played out in other parts of the country, including Montana where two projects are slated to begin next year in the Lolo National Forest. A project is also planned for the oft-contentious Bitterroot National Forest, said Marnie Criley, coordinator of the Montana Forest Restoration Committee.

"People are getting to know each other and not automatically hating each other because this person is a timber person and this person is a conservationist," she said. "A lot of trust-building has been going on."

Forest restoration is occurring all over the West, said Mary Mitsos with the National Forest Foundation, a Montana-based group. Efforts in Montana, Alaska, Washington and Oregon involve repairing watersheds to encourage healthier fish runs. In Arizona and New Mexico, restoration is more about forest thinning to lessen the danger of wildfires.