Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Land deal is rotten

There is a monster public lands issue lurking in northern Idaho. It is the horrible proposed Upper Lochsa Land Exchange, being relentlessly pushed by the Forest Service. It wants to acquire 39,000 cut-over acres in a checkerboard pattern.

Astoundingly enough, to do this it is willing to liquidate by trade 20,000 or more acres of prime scattered old-growth timber parcels with hugely valuable associated wildlife-habitat, watershed and outdoor-recreation values. It is beyond my ability to put into words how horrific this obscene public land takeaway proposal is. The exchange would truly be an epic tragedy.

Worst of all, the Forest Service has stooped to a record low in dealing with Tim Blixseth and his front company, Western Pacific Timber. Blixseth is a notorious land scammer and robber baron. His bankrupt Yellowstone Club in Montana is the gold standard of shady dealing. Montana citizens can tell you horror stories. Now Blixseth wants to unleash real toxicity on North Idaho. Google up Tim Blixseth and you will be shocked.

North Idaho is truly one of the last best places. The Forest Service erroneously figures it can get away with this travesty because it is rural and sparsely populated. Wrong. Informed citizens in Idaho County are furious. I urge you to visit these two excellent websites: and

If this were happening in our backyard on the Boise or Sawtooth Forest, there would be a monumental public uproar. It is happening on the Clearwater and Nez Perce national forests.

Please take action to stop this train wreck. Giving away giant chunks of our irreplaceable national public land heritage is unconscionable. The Clearwater forest and regional headquarters in Missoula and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell have gone bonkers.

The supplemental draft EIS is now out with comment deadline of Jan. 17. Please speak up and demand that only the "no action" alternative be selected. Public lands advocates in the southern half of Idaho must speak up in record numbers. It is hard to capture public attention this time of the year. Nonetheless, I am trying do exactly that and implore you to get involved.

There is so much at stake. The FOC website has everything you need, but feel free to contact me personally for more specifics at

Scott H. Phillips


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