Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch met Friday with U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell to try to help free up the owners of a southeast Idaho sawmill from the claws of the government shutdown.
Sawmill owner Brad Jensen of tiny Ovid in Bear Lake County got a cease-and-desist letter last week from the Forest Service telling him he has until Tuesday to pull his logging crew off a timber sale south of Soda Springs. The agency has sent similar letters to loggers and mill owners across the nation due to the shutdown of the federal government.
Risch is hopeful the chief, who attended Capital High School, might be able to help Jensen, who has to get the timber out of the woods this fall or risk going out of business and leaving 70 people in Ovid without work.
I know Tom really well, Risch said. He is one of the guys you can deal with in the administration."
Hes doing the best he can, Risch added. He apologized for what hes doing.
Risch, who got involved at the request of Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, said Tidwell was exploring whether Jensens situation could be considered an emergency.