Idaho’s state Land Board approved a state timber harvest plan for 2017 this week that calls for cutting 247 million board feet of timber, as part of a 50-year plan to cut the inventory of harvestable timber on state endowment lands from more than 7 billion board feet to 5 billion. The plan has so far reduced it by about 500 million board feet, writes AP reporter Keith Ridler, less than what models had predicted and attributed in part to faster growth by young trees in logged areas. “I think we're doing the right thing in Idaho," Gov. Butch Otter told the AP. "We're trying to catch up on our sustainable yield so that we don't overgrow the forest and turn it into a sick forest." Here is Ridler’s full report:
Idaho Land Board approves state timber harvest for 2017
By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — State officials on Tuesday approved a plan designed to keep reducing the amount of mature trees available for logging in Idaho.
The Department of Lands voted 4-0 vote to cut down 247 million board feet of timber in 2017 as the state looks to alleviate wildfire risks.
"I think we're doing the right thing in Idaho," Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said after the meeting. "We're trying to catch up on our sustainable yield so that we don't overgrow the forest and turn it into a sick forest."
The state aims to cut the inventory of harvestable timber from more than 7 billion board feet to 5 billion. The plan has so far reduced it by about 400 or 500 million board feet, less than what models had predicted and attributed in part to faster growth by young trees in logged areas.
"We'll be remodeling it here in the next couple of years," Idaho State Forester David Groeschl said after the meeting.
Groeschl said getting the state's harvestable timber down to 5 billion board feet had to happen slowly to ensure enough suitable-sized trees were available each year.
"If you go too quickly, you have an age-size-class gap, and that will affect our long-term sustained yield," he said.
The Land Board also approved selecting real estate brokerage company Thornton Oliver Keller to sell 12 commercial properties worth an estimated $25 million. The properties became a political liability for some of the board members when their campaign opponents alleged that state-owned commercial property unfairly competes with businesses.
"There's a process set up," Mike Keller, a partner with Thornton Oliver Keller, said about the auctions that will take place. "All the properties will be appraised. It will be fully vetted."
The sale of the real estate, along with hundreds of residential cottage sites, is expected to bring in about $160 million. Financial advisers told the Land Board earlier this year that a good use for the money would be buying timberland and farmland.
The board is scheduled to vote on that advice in May, but moved in that direction Tuesday. It decided to start a process to buy about 2,400 acres of timberland in northern Idaho from Potlatch. The property was valued at $4.3 million in 2013, but officials with the Department of Lands said they believe it is worth significantly less following recent logging.