IDFG Sunnyside timber sale to proceed

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The Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) plan to conduct forest management activities on its Sunnyside property will proceed as proposed earlier this year.

The parcel includes approximately 52 acres of timber, with approximately 40 acres “landlocked” and not accessible to the public. Parcel is located on the Sunnyside peninsula approximately 8 miles east of Sandpoint, Idaho and is part of the Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area.

Funds generated by the sale of timber from the Sunnyside property will be used to support wildlife habitat projects in the Panhandle and other areas across the state. Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) has been providing forestry expertise in developing the project.

The proposed timber sale was met with some local concerns, mostly from people requesting that timber harvest not occur on the Sunnyside property. IDFG sincerely appreciates and respects the different views and perspectives on how the Sunnyside parcel should be managed. Over the past few months, IDFG worked with a local conservation organization to determine whether other management options were available, such as an easement which would provide funds for the habitat program but leave the site unharvested. After fully investigating and considering other land management options, the decision has been made to proceed with the timber sale as initially proposed.

Factors considered included the state policy that does not encumber or sell forested lands. Additionally, sufficient funding to obtain public access and/or mitigate the states’ resources could not be found. With current strong timber markets, moving forward with timber harvest at this time will generate substantial revenue for wildlife habitat improvement projects. The proposed sale will maintain a portion of the timber on the site, and will provide wildlife benefits on many more acres of publicly accessible lands.

The Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area is managed to enhance and protect wildlife habitats and to provide for public access for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and other wildlife-based recreation and educational opportunities. Because most of the Sunnyside parcel is landlocked, it does not fulfill IDFG’s mission to provide access and surplus wildlife resources for sportsmen, and/or to promote other wildlife-based recreation by the public.

With IDL assisting in the timber sale administration and providing valuable forest management expertise, we are taking a forest management approach that maintains habitat and the habitat type. We are confident this parcel will continue to provide the wildlife benefits, with no long-term negative effects.

The sale notice will be out within the next few weeks, and the purchaser will have two years in which to complete the sale. Further public notice will be given when the schedule is determined. We appreciate the public’s interest in the IDFG forest management program.

Questions or comments are invited. Please contact the project manager, Miles Benker at 208-770-3755, or by e-mail at miles.benker@idfg.idaho.gov.

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