Not One Acre in Any County!!
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The Upper Lochsa Land Exchange (ULX) was formally proposed in 2008. It was the largest land exchange ever involving the Forest Service and would trade well-loved and used FS lands for the less accessible checkerboard private lands owned by Western Pacific Timber (WPT) in the upper Lochsa. It threatened small town watersheds, trout streams, access to favored hunting and fishing sites and other recreational opportunities.
In 2016, after years of staunch public opposition, Idaho Sen. James Risch admitted there was no public support for the ULX and declined to pursue legislative action.
But it's back again! The Upper Lochsa Land Exchange has returned with a new name but in nearly identical format. Since 2013 Western Pacific Timber has continued to employ ex-Senator Larry Craig and his staffer Mark Rey to lobby for a land exchange. These paid lobbyists have collaborated with Governor Butch Otter to engage the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) in the deliberately renamed ULX, now the Central Idaho Land Exchange. It's a 3-way deal. IDL puts $30 million in escrow, Western Pacific Timber deeds its cutover lands in the Upper Lochsa to the Forest Service, the Forest Service deeds lands to IDL, and the money in escrow goes to WPT.
All of this would require federal legislation.
IDL claims they will maintain public access. However, history shows there is no guarantee that IDL would not eventually sell or exchange the lands acquired.
The exchange would result in the loss of thousands of acres. These national forest lands are owned by all Americans, and loved by the people of Idaho for their proximity and opportunities for sustainable logging, hunting, fishing, camping and more.
Perhaps most important the exchange would set a precedent where future public lands could be deeded, sold or traded to a state through legislation.
We the undersigned petition Congress to oppose legislation involving the Central Idaho Land Exchange. Idaho Department of Lands and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter should immediately drop the pursuit of an exchange. The cutover lands owned by Western Pacific Timber in the Upper Lochsa should be pursued in a way that would not result in the loss of any federal lands. Not One Acre in Any County!
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