Such is the sorry state of resource use in Idaho that the board of commissioners for Idaho County (Grangeville) has hired a consultant to work with the commissioners in meeting with the Forest Service about cutting more timber in the county.
Time was when pretty much every town with timber access north of Riggins had at least one sawmill and many had more. In Grangeville, for example, there was once six operating mills. Now there is one. Technology has played a role for sure, but primarily the problem is lack of timber harvest caused by environmental groups filing suit after suit that ties the system into knots with the expected and hoped-for fallout by such groups … it is not worth the fight to harvest the abundance of timber in Idaho County and other counties from Riggins north to the Canadian border.
Are there legitimate environmental concerns? Sure, but not when nearly every potential sale is contested and not when groups like Earth First! in the past would drive spikes into trees to discourage loggers from dropping a tree.
The Idaho County commissioner spearheading the effort does not identify the Forest Service as the enemy. He points a finger squarely at the nuisance lawsuits, which are less about environmental concerns and more about inflicting their anti-capitalist view on the rest of us.
Idaho’s traditional wealth comes from the land in the form of timber, mining and farming/ranching. Local economies are stood on their head when communities cannot log the abundant forests and cannot mine some of richest deposits of rare minerals. That leaves that three-legged economic stool with only one leg to stand on, farming/ranching.
The stool, of course, will collapse. Just like the closed mills in Grangeville, Riggins, Winchester, Elk City and other communities that once thrived, but are now struggling. Not to mention the cost of goods must increase because, when you have less of something desired and needed, you will see a corresponding increase in the price.
An economy cannot be based on selling t-shirts to each other even if they do say, “Save the Spotted Owl” or the snail darter or some other cause. What about saving jobs and the lifestyle and life blood of smaller communities across the state?
But here we are: Hiring a consultant to work with the Forest Service to release timber for harvest in a state loaded with a renewable resource. Common sense isn't so common, is it ...
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.