- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - In a story April 19 about an Idaho Land Board meeting, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of commercial properties to be sold. It is 12, not 11. Also, the vote was taken by the Land Board, not the Department of Lands. State officials say the goal of the state’s timber plan is not to reduce the amount of mature trees available for logging, but to have younger, healthier forests to reduce losses to fire, insects and disease.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Idaho Land Board approves state timber harvest for 2017

State officials on Tuesday approved harvesting 247 million board feet of timber from state land in 2017 that’s part of a long-term plan to have younger, healthier forests with less loss to fire, insects and disease.

By KEITH RIDLER

Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - State officials on Tuesday approved harvesting 247 million board feet of timber from state land in 2017 that’s part of a long-term plan to have younger, healthier forests with less loss to fire, insects and disease.

The Idaho Land Board voted 4-0 to approve the harvest as part of the state’s goal to reduce the overall standing volume of timber on endowment lands.

“I think we’re doing the right thing in Idaho,” Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said after the meeting. “We’re trying to catch up on our sustainable yield so that we don’t overgrow the forest and turn it into a sick forest.”

The state aims to cut the inventory of harvestable timber from more than 7 billion board feet to 5 billion. The plan has so far reduced it by about 400 or 500 million board feet, less than what models had predicted and attributed in part to faster growth by young trees in logged areas.

“We’ll be remodeling it here in the next couple of years,” Idaho State Forester David Groeschl said after the meeting.

Groeschl said getting the state’s harvestable timber down to 5 billion board feet had to happen slowly to ensure enough suitable-sized trees were available each year.

“If you go too quickly, you have an age-size-class gap, and that will affect our long-term sustained yield,” he said.

The Land Board also approved selecting real estate brokerage company Thornton Oliver Keller to sell 12 commercial properties worth an estimated $25 million. The properties became a political liability for some of the board members when their campaign opponents alleged that state-owned commercial property unfairly competes with businesses.

“There’s a process set up,” Mike Keller, a partner with Thornton Oliver Keller, said about the auctions that will take place. “All the properties will be appraised. It will be fully vetted.”

The sale of the real estate, along with hundreds of residential cottage sites, is expected to bring in about $160 million. Financial advisers told the Land Board earlier this year that a good use for the money would be buying timberland and farmland.

The board is scheduled to vote on that advice in May, but moved in that direction Tuesday. It decided to start a process to buy about 2,400 acres of timberland in northern Idaho from Potlatch. The property was valued at $4.3 million in 2013, but officials with the Department of Lands said they believe it is worth significantly less following recent logging.


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