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Exchange creates jobs, funds education, provides county taxes

Letter to the Editor

I hope the taxpayers of Idaho County realize the outcome of the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange will affect Idaho County forever and work to understand the deeper impact of the outcome. Idaho County’s economic base, the services it can supply, and the strength of our educational system directly relate to this issue. Idaho County’s Road Department, school budgets, and other services are supported by Secure Rural Schools funding, a law that is scheduled to end within two years. The loss of these dollars will have a direct impact on our roads and education, and will require a substantial increase in our property taxes to maintain the services we have. I support the Exchange because:

• Timber harvest on federally managed lands has dropped dramatically, so fear of losing more of our tax base and available timber base is real. Studies show that for every million dollars invested in forest management activities generates more than 2 million in economic return.

• Increased forest management around the proposed communities would provide fuel breaks in the event of another catastrophic wildfire season.

• Western Pacific Timber’s lands make up 1/5 of Idaho County’s private timber lands. The loss of that $100,025.16 would have a large negative impact.

• When Secure Rural Schools funding ends, county and schools will lose $8,000,000. It was extremely difficult to get SRS reauthorized for the current period and it’s unlikely that SRS will be reauthorized again.

• WPT supports our way of life and through easements will allow historic use and access for generations to come for recreation, traditional gathering and hunting in perpetuity.

How can a county that has relied on its natural resources replace these lost dollars? How can we attract new industries to the area if our schools are substandard and poorly funded? Answers to these questions are in this exchange as it creates logging and reforestation jobs, funds education, and provides taxes for county services. I believe communities adjacent to these lands will benefit from this exchange, and, regret that there will not be acres around my community.

Joyce Dearstyne

Elk City


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