In response to Dale Bosworth’s Nov. 24 Guest Opinion, I have the following comments:
1. In regards to the title “Lochsa Land swap a good idea for Idaho,” I have this to say: Lochsa Land swap, in the opinion of over 90 percent of those who have commented, is not a good idea for Idaho.
2. As with most people who support the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange, Bosworth tries to paint a picture of the exchange as a “win-win” for everyone. But most of the 300 people who attended Senator Risch’s hearing in Grangeville on Nov. 24 disagree. Advocates who write opinions on the exchange don’t even acknowledge, or only hint at, the existence of public opposition.
3. In his only attempt to address opposition to the exchange (loss of heavily used public lands), Bosworth mentions that (conservation) easements would assure continued public access to those lands exchanged to Western Pacific Timber. The public has been very clear about their distrust of easements — who would administer them? The forest service wouldn’t because they would have lost jurisdiction. With no one to administer the easements they would eventually just be forgotten.
4. Bosworth did not mention that the Forest Service, in its aborted administrative study on the exchange, could not make a case for acquisition of the Upper Lochsa lands, much less justify a very unpopular exchange for them. Protection and Restoration are the stated reasons that some want to acquire those lands; however, the Forest Service did not, in two draft environmental impact statements, identify any biological, managerial or social problems that would be corrected by this exchange. No protection or proposed restoration was identified.
5. Bosworth said that the checkerboard ownership pattern “continues to jeopardize the proper management of this unique resource” but he did not mention that, for approximately 100 years, the Forest Service and various timber companies have each effectively and compatibly managed their ownerships in the Upper Lochsa.
Before you believe someone’s “rosy picture” on the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange, you need to hear the other side.
Blake Ballard, of Moscow, is a retired Forest Service employee with 38 years of service on five ranger districts and four national forests in Idaho and Montana, most recently on the Palouse Ranger District of the Clearwater National Forest (now Clearwater/ Nez Perce National Forests).