As of Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Although I have favored supplemental school funding levies in recent years, I plan to vote against the proposed levy in the upcoming election on March 8. With reductions in revenue occurring as a result of timber harvesting restrictions on adjacent public lands, levies were one of the only options available to sustain local quality education programs, and so I supported them. Recently, however, residents of Idaho County were offered an alternative funding source that would not only have eliminated the need for yearly levies, but for SRS and PILT federal welfare payments. This alternative funding source is known as the Lochsa Land Exchange, and due in large part to innuendo and misinformation it has been slow to gain traction.
The fact is that many, if not most, of the logs coming to our local mills have their origin on state and private land. Environmentalists have blocked through court action much of the logging on our national forests, leaving the timber to rot or burn. The consequence is that we are deprived of vital and sustaining revenue for our schools, roads, and other infrastructure. The Lochsa Land Exchange will facilitate getting our local workforce back into the woods to responsibly harvest our most plentiful and renewable natural resource, and thus provide the economic windfall that we so desperately need.
I cannot support continued tax increases and perpetual government largesse when a viable marketplace alternative lies within our reach. I urge my fellow citizens to take a second look at the fact-based summary in favor of the land exchange, as presented by our county commissioners. As Idahoans, many of us have roots in pioneer stock only two or three generations removed. Will we embrace the tradition of our forebears - independence, innovation, and industry — or continue living on our knees, content in gleaning the crumbs thrown to us from our federal master’s table?