The Upper Lochsa Land Exchange is back from the dead. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is interested in purchasing the 39,000 acres of private land owned by Western Pacific Timber. These lands are the infamous cutover “checkerboard” near Lolo Pass and the Idaho/Montana border.
If the state can complete a purchase, it would then seek a land exchange with the Forest Service. According to maps, the timberlands sought by IDL are National Forest lands located in north-central Idaho. In other words, the public would once again lose federal public lands in this latest proposal.
In the last eight years, citizens have flatly rejected two different Forest Service land exchange proposals involving the checkerboard and other federal lands. In 2015, we also defeated an attempt by Sen. Jim Risch to complete a legislative exchange.
Whether it’s been an administrative or legislative proposal, or if the lands being considered for an exchange are located in Kootenai, Bonner, Benewah, Latah, Clearwater, or Idaho County, people have clearly demonstrated that they will not stand for the loss of any federal public lands. No means no.
Brett Haverstick, Moscow