We are doubling down on kudos today because there are two public lands efforts positively affecting forest and wildlife management in Idaho and the West that are deserving of note and our appreciation.
The first is to acknowledge the quick and common sense approach being employed by the Idaho Department of Public Lands to expedite its timber salvage sales process to allow for clear cuts of 100 acres or more on fire-ravaged parcels it manages.
Though this may not be the standard policy for regular timber sales with live trees, it is just what is needed to get in and harvest the estimated 60 to 80 million board feet that could be realized from the 76,000 acres of timber that burned on IDPL lands so far this fire season, according to an Associated Press story of last week. .
AP also reported that normally the Department of Lands workers would get piecemeal permission to do clear cuts of that size, but the up front and overall approval by the board — which includes Gov. Butch Otter, Atty Gen. Lawrence Wasden, Sec. of State Lawerence Denney, State Controller Brandon Woolf and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra — will facilitate the best return because it allows loggers to proceed more quickly and salvage before insects intervene and reduce the value of the timber.
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This is an example of how nimble and effective a state agency can be when something needs to happen quickly without getting bogged down in layers of bureaucracy. Idaho and the Land Board’s benefactors will be the winners.
Another expression of common sense is collaboration, and that was clearly on display as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management evaluated dozens of management plans affecting greater sage grouse and other wildlife across 173 million acres in 11 states (including Idaho) — and concluded with the news Tuesday that it would not be necessary to protect the bird under the federal Endangered Species Act.
That news came as a result of a lot of work in Idaho and the other Western States where management plans were forged, and showed that the layers of government and the private sector can find a sweet spot of flexibility and progress when they want to.
In Rocky Barker’s story in the Statesman Tuesday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell referred to the months and years of work as “the largest conservation effort in history by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service, state agencies, private landowners and other partners to conserve its habitat.”
Though there is plenty of work to be done, this is where the West wanted to end up — pursuing voluntary measures in efforts to preserve the sage grouse.
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