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Idaho Lands Community Open House – Donna Capurso

The main purpose of the IDL is to manage Idaho endowment lands.

idaho lands

Idaho Lands Community Open House

by Donna Capurso

On Thursday afternoon, February 25th, the Idaho Department of Lands held an open house at their Bonners Ferry office. The public was invited to attend in order to meet the IDL staff and to listen to a presentation of the various programs managed by the IDL. The agenda started out with introductions of the staff members in attendance and what their positions and functions are within the department.

The program began with a video explaining the Forestry Assistance program. Topics such as fire protection, logging practices, permitting processes, protection of streams from erosion, contamination by pesticides and other damaging effects. IDL spoke about fire management in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service.

idaho landsI questioned the lack of fire containment for the Parker Ridge fire and asked what happened on that fire. The response revolved around the safety of the fire fighters as the main reason for the inability to contain this fire. Other citizens added their input, one of whom stated that he was transporting water to the fire scene but three roads to the streams to obtain water were blocked by large boulders and he had to drive 14 miles to town each time to obtain water for fighting the fire.

It was also brought up that there is so much downed wood and large fallen trees making it very difficult to fight a fire because of the lack of forest management by the U.S. Forest Service. There was a lengthy discussion by the public in attendance regarding getting the public lands controlled by the federal government into the hands of the state of Idaho for true forest management and economic advantages to our county and state.

The main purpose of the IDL is to manage Idaho endowment lands. Chief among the beneficiaries from endowment land sales, mostly from timber sales, are the public schools. The original land grants were for two sections of every township in the state of Idaho (1/18 of the total land base) as deliberated via the Idaho Admissions Act in 1889 where the US Congress granted approximately 3,600,000 acres of land for the sole purpose of funding specified beneficiaries.

In addition to public schools, other beneficiaries include the University of Idaho, State hospitals for the mentally ill, Lewis-Clark State College, State veterans’ homes, Idaho State University, the Capitol Commission, Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind and Idaho’s juvenile corrections system and prison system.

These funds do not benefit the general public and are administered by the State Board of Land Commissioners. In the Pend Oreille Lake (POL) area which includes Boundary County, there are currently 18 timber sales under contract for an estimated gross value of $12,679,884 which is 28,390 MBF (million board feet.) These proceeds are distributed based on per capita population to Idaho counties. In the fiscal year 2015, Boundary County only received $152,602.85 from Idaho endowment funds which seems to me a very disproportionate amount.

IDL also spoke to the public on the Good Neighbor Authority which allows the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts with States and Puerto Rico to allow the States to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on National Forest System (NFS) lands.

The final item on IDL’s agenda was to discuss “Forest Assessments” which appears on the tax bill of owners of property with trees that are considered forests. This assessment is to cover wildfire preparedness and equipment. Property owners with treed acreage can access how the fire protection assessment fees are determined by going to Idaho Title 38-111 or you can consult with the IDL office in your area.

For Bonners Ferry:
Kootenai Valley Forest Protective District
6327 Main St.
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 267-5577 Phone
(this office is part of the Pend Oreille Supervisory Area)

For Sandpoint:
Pend Oreille Supervisory Area
2550 Highway 2 West
Sandpoint, ID 83864-7305
(208) 263-5104 Phone