Idaho Forest Group endorses Scotchman proposal

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SANDPOINT — Idaho Forest Group is adding its voice to a diverse chorus voicing support for congressional designation of the Scotchman's Peak wilderness.

"It's time to get it designated," Bob Boeh, vice president of government affairs and strategic outreach, said on Monday.

The Laclede-based timber company is sending a letter to Idaho's federal delegation urging the wilderness designation.

"Idaho Forest Group is dedicated and committed to good stewardship of our forests, and works within the community to increase the timber production from our national forests and to advance the preservation of certain locally-supported wilderness areas," Idaho Forest Group owner and Chairman Marc Brinkmeyer said in the letter.

Last March, Bonner County commissioners unanimously adopted resolution calling for the wilderness designation. The designation already has the endorsement of the governor of Montana, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, the Missoulian, the Spokesman-Review, the Sanders County Ledger and the Bonner County Daily Bee.

Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness has also been working to secure support from Revett Minerals, which recently merged with Hecla Mining Co.

Friends of Scotchman has spent years developing broad-based support for the designation, which for some is a dog whistle signaling the end of timber extraction on U.S. Forest Service lands. But Friends of Scotchman, through the Panhandle Forest Collaborative, has been giving its support to Idaho Forest Group for salvage and forest health projects elsewhere in the Panhandle, such as the Bottom Canyon and Jasper Mountain projects.

Timber harvesting opportunities are slim in the Scotchman Peak area due to the steep and rugged terrain.

“It's going to have no impact on the forest base,” said Phil Hough, executive director of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Friends of Scotchman, however, may endorse salvage logging in areas ravaged by this summer's Clark Fork complex fires.

“This particular organization did a great job in establishing a blueprint for how wilderness proposals should come about,” said Boeh.

Boeh added that the designation gives Idahoans some say on local forest management. It also dovetails with the Kootenai and Panhandle national forest plans and the Idaho roadless rule.

It also demonstrates that timber and conservation interests aren't always at odds.

“Increasingly, conservation and timber management aren't in conflict,” said Hough.

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