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 dimension in relation to the famously large federal regulatory paperwork. Nevertheless, it represented a milestone in hydropower initiatives. 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 known as it its largest success.

“It was most likely the one most worthwhile factor I labored on,” Corsi mentioned when requested to contemplate a 40-year profession with the Idaho Fish and Recreation Division. “We’re nonetheless making the most of 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 throughout the dam negotiations.

“It was very intense,” he mentioned. “They’d nice facilitators they usually did every little thing proper when it comes to getting individuals collectively.” “It has been 5 years of lots of conferences. A number of conferences.”

The consequence, he mentioned, was properly well worth the effort. Significantly as a result of almost everybody concerned was pleased with the settlement, overturning the cliché concerning the settlement that led to everybody dropping. Whereas Corsi was simply one in every of 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 well-liked,” mentioned 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 Sources Division, echoed Shriver’s reward.

“Effectively, the connection between Idaho and the tribes has all the time been troublesome,” he mentioned. “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 beneath the Chip Bridge,” former SR outside editor Wealthy Landers mentioned in an electronic mail.

Corsi was accountable throughout the circulation of predatory lake trout, northern pike, and walnut into northern Idaho, notably in Lake Bend O’Reilly. Landers mentioned 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 change into among the many finest 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 mentioned.

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 attempting to find the primary time.

Thus started a lifelong love.

“I assumed this was the best factor on the earth,” he mentioned. “I acquired actually hooked that quick. I have not 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 acquired 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 mentioned he realized he was in one of the best place to be a wildlife biologist.

“As for what we do as an company, I am unable to consider a greater place in Decrease 48, I might argue anyplace, to do this,” he mentioned. “We do not attempt to stick with the very last thing usually.”

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

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

Nevertheless, 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 accessible to IDFG annually beneath the phrases of the Clark Fork Settlement Settlement. Ostermann mentioned it’s a testomony to Corsi’s collaborative expertise and imaginative and prescient.

“I feel the community of relationships you construct is crucial side of how issues get performed,” Ostermann mentioned. “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 massive, contentious locations. He can put individuals comfy whereas retaining his floor. He is a individuals like everybody else. He can talk with anybody.”