Logging

Richard Cassan / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has halted a salvage logging project in northern Idaho at the request of two environmental groups that say it violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Thursday ruled the U.S. Forest Service cannot go ahead with the project near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers that aims to harvest 34 million board feet of timber scorched by a 2014 wildfire.

The lightning-caused Johnson Bar Fire burned more than 20 square miles, mostly on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

Forest History Society / Flickr

State officials have given their OK to modify a northern Idaho timber sale to include helicopter logging that will cost the state up to $1.5 million in lost revenue.

The Idaho Land Board voted 4-0 on Tuesday following a federal court ruling earlier this month that put the Selway Fire Salvage timber sale on hold by temporarily banning the use of a contested U.S. Forest Service road.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says it's disappointing but the Land Board had little choice.

Rick Payette / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has halted a salvage logging project on state land in northern Idaho by temporarily banning the use of a contested U.S. Forest Service road on private property.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in an 8-page decision released late Friday granted a temporary restraining order requested by the property owners and an environmental group.

Morgan and Olga Wright and Idaho Rivers United say the federal agency incorrectly approved the use of the road without issuing a special use permit.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to stop a forest project in western Idaho that they say will harm habitat needed by federally protected bull trout.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Idaho Sporting Congress and Native Ecosystems Council filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise against the U.S. Forest Service.

The groups say the agency violated environmental laws by approving the Lost Creek-Boulder Creek Landscape Restoration Project in September without proper environmental analysis.

Oregon's congressional delegation is hoping to secure a two-year extension of timber payments to rural counties. The Secure Rural Schools provision is tucked in a bill the U.S. House is voting on this week.

Loss Of Federal Timber Payments Hit Idaho Harder Than Most States

Mar 11, 2015

Idaho is among five U.S. states losing the largest amount of federal timber payments aimed at rural counties and school districts.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Basin School District in Idaho City has something most districts in the state don’t, preschool.

On Wednesdays, 12 preschoolers leave their small house-turned-school and walk across the playground to the high school’s music room. The children sit cross-legged in a circle and the music teacher hands out two brightly-colored sticks to each student. Music class for these preschoolers is all about rhythm, following directions, and giggling.

Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.

Idaho counties will bear the brunt of this loss. Seventy percent of Secure Rural Schools money goes to counties for things like road maintenance. Thirty percent goes to school districts.

Data from the Idaho Association of Counties shows Idaho County will lose more money than any other county, nearly $7.3 million.

snow, tree, weather
Jim Bauer / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service's new supervisor for the 4-million-acre Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho says the agency might offer more trees for sale.

Cheryl Probert says the Johnson Bar salvage and others projects related to the 9-square-mile fire last summer could increase timber harvest.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Probert met on Monday with Clearwater County commissioners, who want more timber harvested.

Jeff Myers / Flickr

More than 75 scientists are appealing to President Barack Obama to create a policy for preserving old-growth forest.

The U.S. and Canadian scientists sent a letter to the president Wednesday urging the U.S. Forest Service to draw up plans to conserve ecosystems distinguished by old trees, accumulations of dead woody material and diversity of plant life. Most are found in the Pacific Northwest or Southeast Alaska.

Washington state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark repeated Monday that "It's still too early to tell" if there is a connection between logging and this spring's deadly landslide near Oso, Washington.

Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says his latest proposal to increase logging on Oregon forest land will also respect environmental concerns. 

  Loggers are packing up and leaving timber sales uncut across the Northwest. It's another effect of the partial government shutdown. Timber companies say even if a deal is reached soon at the nation's capitol, the effects from the logging hiatus could be felt all the way into next spring.

Timber companies received letters from the Forest Service telling them to cease operations. That's because the employees who oversee and inspect timber sales were furloughed.

timber, logging, equipment
D-Stanley / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Forest Service is shutting down timber sales on national forests across the country due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said Friday he was informed of the move by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

Forest Service spokesman Leo Kay confirmed the action in an email but said details were not immediately available.

It was not clear, for example, whether loggers could cut and haul off trees under contracts that have already been awarded, or whether the action affects just sales that have yet to be awarded.

Congress is back in session this week. The House will discuss two proposals that would increase logging in federal forests to raise money for struggling timber counties.

Washington Republican Doc Hastings chairs the House Natural Resource committee. Hastings says Northwest timber counties are running out of money. And it’s difficult for them to raise revenue given their depressed economies.

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