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Time we brought proper management, balance to public lands within Idaho

Guest Opinion

The only thing putting our Idaho forests at risk are environmentalists like Jonathan Oppenheimer [in response to his Oct. 18 issue guest opinion]. Our public lands will not survive the misguided polices of his radical ideas and how fire is a good thing. If anybody is selling snake oil, it is Mr. Oppenheimer.

Mr. Oppenheimer brings the same arrogance of the timber kings of the late ‘70s and ‘80s and mimics the same self-importance of the past. The timber kings told us they knew best; they knew their forestry science and everything would be all right. The environmentalists are now trying the same swindle; same pig just different lipstick. It’s time we brought proper management and balance to the public lands within Idaho.

Fire is part of the forest; however, today because of gross neglect from environmental lawsuits, we deal with catastrophic wildfires that plague, not only our forest but also our rangelands, and our communities. It does not have to be this way.

Properly managed lands do not burn to the ground. Does anyone find it a coincidence that private and state lands do not suffer the same fate with respect to the frequency which, catastrophic wildfires occur on federal lands? When proper forestry management is incorporated into the landscape, the results minimize the probability of catastrophic wildfires and increase the sustainability of our forest. These techniques include logging and grazing to minimize insect infestations and to eliminate the combustible understory on the forest floor.

Proper forest management prevents erosion of the forest and provides access for public recreation. Proper management provides for better access to fight fires and salvage timber that can be harvested and create jobs within the local communities. Proper management provides for better natural habitat for wildlife to survive and thrive. Proper management provides better protection for endangered species habitat.

The environmental community talks about creating carbon sinks with our federal lands; today, the only true carbon sinks exist on state and private lands. They are logged, grazed, new trees are planted, and access is made available. The carbon is made into 2x4’s and sunk into walls creating homes and opportunities within our state and America.

The timber kings may have been misguided by greed; Mr. Oppenheimer is misguided by an extremist ideology. It is his policies of lawsuits to eliminate logging, limiting access, and no grazing, which have contributed to the disaster we in Idaho and other Western states live with.

If Mr. Oppenheimer is sincere about wanting to work with fellow Idahoans, he will check his socialist-elitist attitude at the door and work to bring stability to Idaho’s public lands and our rural communities. 

Jim Chmelik of Cottonwood is a board member for the Idaho County Farm Bureau.


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