Long-time Panhandle wildlife official retires after securing millions to work in fisheries, ‘can connect with anyone’

July 11—In early 1999, Avista filed a brand new federal working license for 2 dams on the Clark Fork River.

The 47-page settlement was modest in measurement in relation to the famously large federal regulatory paperwork. Nonetheless, it represented a milestone in hydropower tasks. For the primary time, the dam was re-licensed earlier than its 50-year federal license expired.

Extra spectacular? Re-licensing was accomplished with the blessing of 27 tribal, state, and environmental teams in Montana and Idaho.

Greater than 20 years later, cash from that settlement, now often known as the Clark Fork Settlement Settlement, has funded conservation and habitat restoration work up and down the drainage of the Clark Fork River, all of which is why Chip Corsi has referred to as it its greatest success.

“It was most likely the only most worthwhile factor I labored on,” Corsi stated when requested to think about a 40-year profession with the Idaho Fish and Recreation Division. “We’re nonetheless benefiting from that now.”

Corsi retired in late June as regional director for IDFG Panhandle. After 42 years within the enterprise, he was IDFG’s longest-serving worker. However within the Nineteen Nineties, Corsi was an environmental ecologist tasked with representing IDFG pursuits through the dam negotiations.

“It was very intense,” he stated. “They’d nice facilitators and so they did every part proper when it comes to getting folks collectively.” “It has been 5 years of lots of conferences. Plenty of conferences.”

The outcome, he stated, was nicely definitely worth the effort. Significantly as a result of practically everybody concerned was pleased with the settlement, overturning the cliché in regards to the settlement that led to everybody dropping. Whereas Corsi was simply one in all many gamers concerned, those that have labored with him, on the time and since, say he’s notably good at balancing competing pursuits and viewpoints.

“He was a collaborator earlier than that phrase grew to become standard,” stated Ed Shriver, director of IDFG, who began his profession at Corsi. “We run a public belief and Chip takes on this very sacred accountability.”

Dean Osterman, government director of the Kalispell Tribe’s Pure Assets Division, echoed Shriver’s reward.

“Effectively, the connection between Idaho and the tribes has at all times been troublesome,” he stated. “It made these challenges a lot simpler. It is an enormous factor, this retirement.

“Chip has been there coronary heart and soul for a really very long time. He has been the catalyst for our relationship with IDFG.”

Whereas Corsi has labored on all types of points—from recolonizing wolves to restoring elk herds within the Panhandle—a lot of his work has targeted on fisheries, particularly trout.

“A considerable amount of trout water flowed underneath the Chip Bridge,” former SR out of doors editor Wealthy Landers stated in an e mail.

Corsi was accountable through the stream of predatory lake trout, northern pike, and walnut into northern Idaho, notably in Lake Bend O’Reilly. Landers stated he additionally helped implement the panhandle trout fishing and launch guidelines, a controversial course of that “finally allowed the North Fork Cour d’Alene and St. Joe’s rivers to turn out to be among the many greatest trout streams within the nation.” . To not point out the return of the burbot fishery on the Kootenai River and the re-emergence of kokanee teams, rainbows and trout on Lake Pend Oreille.

“I admit I am a trout addict,” Corsi stated.

This is sensible if you concentrate on his historical past. His mom’s household was born on Lengthy Island, New York, and had a spot within the Catskill Mountains. When Corsi was 4 years outdated, his grandfather took him trying to find the primary time.

Thus started a lifelong love.

“I assumed this was the good factor on the earth,” he stated. “I obtained actually hooked that quick. I have never untied my thoughts since then.”

Corsi attended the College of Idaho, the place he studied fish biology with all intentions to return to his homeland when he graduated. One factor led to a different and he obtained a summer time job with IDFG and married a “native woman”.

It was all a coincidence. With the good thing about 40 years of hindsight, Corsi stated he realized he was in the very best place to be a wildlife biologist.

“As for what we do as an company, I can not consider a greater place in Decrease 48, I might argue anyplace, to try this,” he stated. “We do not attempt to persist with the very last thing generally.”

One notable exception was the mountain ibex, which was excised from the decrease 48 underneath the Corsi h.

“A race towards time has been misplaced,” he stated. “its an issue.”

Nonetheless, there have been extra successes than failures throughout Corsi’s 40 years. Many of those successes have been funded, to some extent, with greater than $1 million out there to IDFG every year underneath the phrases of the Clark Fork Settlement Settlement. Ostermann stated it’s a testomony to Corsi’s collaborative expertise and imaginative and prescient.

“I feel the community of relationships you construct is crucial facet of how issues get carried out,” Ostermann stated. “As a result of definitely there are technical issues and scientific issues, however more often than not we’re coping with human issues.

“Chip is superb at speaking in large, contentious locations. He can put folks comfy whereas maintaining his floor. He is a folks like everybody else. He can talk with anybody.”