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Spencer: Hart Snagged Wrong Trees

Larry Spencer: After doing some more research, I haven't found a requirement that the Idaho forest practice act requires that it be harmonized with the federal law, as I believed yesterday that it did. So my current take is that no, Hart was not legal in taking trees from Idaho forest land but he would have been legal if he had taken them from the federal forest land. More below.

Question: Would you feel better about Rep. Phil Hart if he'd taken trees without paying for them from federal land instead of state endowment lands that support Idaho schools?

Just for fun, I went to the Forest Service and asked them and they told me that no, they don't have any rules that permit a person to take logs from the land without paying for them.

They were wrong. The current federal code authorizes exactly that. Based on a 1898 law, 43 CFR 5511.1-1 authorizes the free use of timber for any resident of many listed western states, including Idaho, for the purpose of “firewood, fencing,building, or other agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and domestic use.”

It specifies that only mature trees may be taken, waste should be dealt with, and the form will be provided by the State Director of the US Forest Service, and should be filled out in duplicate.…

Anybody want to build a log home, using free legal wood from the Forest Service.

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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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