Letters from the West

Idaho budget panel restores Forest Legacy funds for timber

Ray Houston, Principal Budget & Policy Analyst speaks about Clagstone Meadows Wednesday before the Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee.
Ray Houston, Principal Budget & Policy Analyst speaks about Clagstone Meadows Wednesday before the Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee.

The Idaho Legislature's Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee put back in the budget $7 million of funding for a proposed easement on 13,000 acres of timber land in Bonner County.

Stimson Lumber Co. had planned to develop the area known as Clagstone Meadows into 1,200 homes and condos, and a golf course. But after opposition from neighbors and sportsmen, the company agreed to negotiate an easement.

The Freedom Foundation and Republican Rep. Heather Scott opposed using the federal pass-through dollars on the easement that would keep the land in timber production permanently and allow public access and the protection of wildlife habitat. Two Bonner commissioners had initially written a letter in opposition, which convinced lawmakers to pull the budgets of the Idaho Departments of Land and Fish and Game off the House floor and strip the funding from the budgets.

But Tuesday the commission rescinded the letter, which prompted JFAC members to vote separate items to restore them to the budgets. The House could vote on the measures Thursday.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

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