Timber

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho state foresters are using a provision of the 2014 federal Farm Bill to increase logging in some forests. The collaborative approach comes at a time when the debate over public land management continues – often at a fever pitch.

Rural schools, Idaho County, bus
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Skip Hall has been a teacher at Grangeville High School for 31 years. His early American history class with freshmen and sophomores will be one of his last: he’s retiring at the end of the school year.

As Hall’s class works together on projects, he takes a moment to reflect on the state of education in his district.

“The biggest thing I see is lack of choice for the students," Hall says.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says closing public access to some state forest lands amid wildfire concerns by private timberland owners is an option that has to be considered due to extreme fire danger this year.

Consultant Jim Riley on Tuesday told Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board that a million acres of private land has been closed this year to the public due to potential wildfire.

Riley says the private owners are concerned about human-caused fires starting on state land and spreading to neighboring timber stands.

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.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Clearwater Paper Company has agreed to pay a civil penalty and upgrade pollution control equipment at its Lewiston pulp and paper mill to address alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Clearwater Paper will pay $300,000 in fines plus interest to the federal government and spend $800,000 to address problems that led to the violation.

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.

The Basin School District in rural south-central Idaho has something most districts in the state don't: preschool. But now that's at risk because of federal funding cuts.

It's not alone: Sparsely populated school districts and counties covered in federal forest lands will have less money this year — $250 million less — because Congress allowed the Secure Rural Schools Act to expire.

Since Idaho doesn't have public preschool, schools that want to offer it have to find creative ways to pay for the program — state money isn't an option.

forest, land, trees
Dave Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

A San Francisco-based investment advising firm told Idaho’s Land Board that its commercial property investments are not a great idea.

Wildfires scorched nearly 1.5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and Idaho this year. And with increased demand for timber from lumber mills, there is a growing market for scorched trees.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

In a 2010 public policy survey by Boise State University, people were asked which level of government they most trust. The federal government lagged far behind state and local entities.

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.

oatsy40 / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho will get a $26.6 million infusion from the federal government this month. That comes from the one year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools Act. That law gives money to states for roads and schools in counties that have lost money due to declines in the timber industry.

The 2000 law expired early last year and congress didn't renew it until July. That delayed payments to many areas that rely on the money for school budgets.