Sustainable Timber Harvests Hits New High, Benefiting Idaho’s Public SchoolsFriday July 7, 2023
Boise, ID - Idaho’s Public School children and other beneficiaries will see endowment financial support increase thanks to a more robust Forest Asset Management Plan. This fiscal year will have the largest recommended sales volume in Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) history.
IDL is headed into the fifth year of the plan that increased recommended sales volume by 81 million board feet over five years. It incrementally took the recommended sales volume from 247 million board feet in 2019 up to 328 million board feet this year.
IDL manages about one million acres of endowment timberlands, which make up about six percent Idaho’s productive forestlands. However, given the agency’s long-term approach to sustainable forestry, endowment land supplies nearly one-third of the sawlogs that feed Idaho’s lumber mills.
IDL can sustainably increase harvest levels thanks to better data and new technology that paints a more realistic picture of the stands of trees on endowment land. The agency targets mature timber and over-crowded stands, resulting in better forest management and increased tree growth.
“This harvest increase allows us to address the excess standing volume on endowment lands, the over-mature trees that should be harvested rather than left at risk for insects, disease and wildfire,” said Jim Elbin, Trust Land Division Administrator. “Our endowment forests will be more resilient and resistant to those threats because the forests will be healthier, and Idaho’s public schools will benefit given the increased revenue from endowment timber sales.”
IDL’s enhanced data shows the harvest increase was needed to keep up with tree growth and meet the agency’s long-term goal for standing timber volume.
“Seedling planting will also increase with the additional harvests, guaranteeing we will keep our forests growing and sustainable for generations to come,” added Elbin. IDL planted nearly 2.7 million seedlings in fiscal year 2022 alone.
“The elevated harvest rate is expected to last between 5 to 25 years, but we will be updating our inventory and evaluating our harvest levels every 5 years,” said Elbin. “Our goal is to keep forests healthy and provide the best long-term return to the beneficiaries.”
According to the Idaho Forest Products Commission, Idaho’s forest sector adds $2.5 billion to the state’s economy and employees more than 30,000 people.
Endowment Lands are different than other types of publicly managed land. In accordance with Idaho’s Constitution, it is held in a legal trust for the sole purpose of financially supporting specific beneficiaries, primarily public schools. The Idaho Constitution requires endowment lands to be managed to maximize returns for the beneficiaries.
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Idaho Department of Lands