As of Tuesday, May 22, 2018
The monster that wouldn’t die: If you think this is about Trump you are mostly wrong, not that it wouldn’t fit, but because it is about the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange.
After many years of broad grassroots resistance, the government said they were done and would not pursue it any longer. All who had been involved in the resistance rejoiced. We thought our public lands in the area were safe. Then, to my surprise, I heard “It’s back.” When I investigated, there it was, in living color, the same damn plan with all the local parts again included that we had worked so hard to defeat. The new wrinkle was that the private timber company has involved our state people who want to have the federal government turn over federal lands so the state could manage all those lands. I understand why the timber company is so persistent; they stand to make millions of dollars if they can pull it off. The new plan promises public access will continue.
The state will not sell the land.
Remember Lindstrom Peak? That land was given to the state with the understanding that it would remain public and available to all us local folks. I have lost track of how many times the state has tried to trade it off so they could get something else they wanted. They try to justify it any way they can by bending the rules so they can do what they want.
Involving the state “take over federal lands” people was a last-ditch attempt to revive the trade and make all that money. Even though studies had revealed that the state did not have the resources to manage the lands if they managed to get control them, the state people have persisted. Remember, these are the same conservatives who have cut state workers so they could give the richest among us tax cuts. They imagine all the money they could get for the state if they could get control of all that land. Forget the risk of the cost of fire suppression. Forget all the other needs of our forests.
With conservatives controlling both our state and federal governments, this is their best and last chance to pull this trade off. So, what would happen if they were able to pull it off? First, the timber company would finally make their millions. The Idaho Department of Lands would be overwhelmed with massive responsibilities they hadn’t been prepared to assume. The privatizers who destroyed public mental health and many other state programs would likely privatize state lands with contracts or outright sale of those lands....
Albert L Halverson