The Spokesman-Review

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Lands Dept. no longer public

When it comes to the state taking over management of our national forests, be careful what you wish for. I sympathize with the frustration stemming from the U.S. Forest Service blocking access, and watching our forests burn. It is a broken system. Biologists, ecologists, hydrologists, fire and fuel specialists come up with projects usually appealed by those who oppose logging.

The state took the word “public” out of the Idaho Department of Lands decades ago. They attempt to run like a corporation to maximize revenue to the endowments. IDL has become a top-down organization, reducing foresters and increasing bureaucrats. I worked for IDL for 33 years and practiced all-age forest management (selective logging). I retired early when orders came that management would be even-age, on a 45-year rotation, with-one-size-fits-all forestry.

In a perfect world, organizations like the Clearwater Basic Collaborative will involve reasonable people, debate, natural resource recommendations based on science, and preventing a minority from appealing the process. The state would run like a B Corporation, which allows for intrinsic values like view sheds, wildlife cover, recreation and multi-age forest stands. The cost to the endowments would be inconsequential and the public could enjoy the land.

Thom Hawkins

Winchester, Idaho



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