Idaho: A timber contractor for hire?


Should the federal government outsource timber sale management to states such as Idaho?

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Gov. Butch Otter

Gov. Butch Otter floated the idea Tuesday morning — and when he goes to Washington, D.C., later this month, he says he’ll run the idea past U.S. Forest Service brass.

“They simply don’t have the technical expertise,” Otter said during a meeting of the State Land Board, the panel of five statewide elected officials that manages state endowment lands to support public education and other beneficiaries. K-12 historically receives the bulk of money from state endowment lands management — nearly $31.3 million in 2012-13.

Now, Otter is talking about branching out from managing timber sales on state lands to managing federal sales. The idea is driven partly by economics: In 2012, he said, the cost of Idaho wildfire suppression reached $220 million.

Federal lands management, always a sensitive subject in Idaho, has drawn even closer attention this session. In January, the House and Senate resources committees heard from a Utah lawmaker who pushed his state to pass a law demanding that the feds cede 20 million acres to state control. No such bill has surfaced in the Statehouse, however.