A North Idaho Betrayal?
Lakeshore Logging in Farragut State Park
Farragut State Park is a favorite recreation destination for locals and out-of-town visitors alike. Its miles of beautiful lakeshore are graced by a mix of old growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees and other native plant species… at least for awhile.
Unfortunately the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has begun to log their land along the extremely popular Idlewilde Bay lakeshore. You can imagine the shock and dismay of some Farragut neighbors, who hike through the park regularly, when they discovered that the view point at the north end of the park, at Jokuhlaup Point (formerly known as Blackwell Point) had become a three-acre clear-cut. Old, mature Douglas fir as big as 33 inches depth breast high and plainly not obstructing the view, were sawed down. Heavy logging occurred on 10 adjacent acres, also within the lakeshore boundary.
Long-time Bayview resort owner Gary MacDonald said, in a letter to Farragut State Park Manager, Mr. Randall Butt, “Our trust was put in you and others in similar positions and we have been totally betrayed by the heavy-handed butchering of the landscape that was perpetrated at the view point.”
The Back Story: In April of 2002 a Draft Work Plan for the park was announced for a Ponderosa Pine Restoration Project. An open house was held August 2002 in Bayview, Idaho to explain the project and receive comments. The vast majority of those in attendance vigorously opposed this plan, which called for extensive logging of mostly old-growth Douglas fir, and controlled burns on approximately 165 acres of the lakeshore area, that went from the shoreline to an elevation of 2,213 feet from Buttonhook Bay to Jokuhlaup Point.
As described in an article in the Spokesman-Review (9-17-03), the project would log off about 350 log-truck loads of trees, according to Department of Lands estimates. Popular biking and hiking trails and roads would be used to transport the logs out of the area.
Due to the public outcry the project was put on hold and a Citizens Advisory Committee was formed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. A Citizens Advisory Committee is typically used to bring public opinion into the planning process for activities contemplated by a government agency.
Kootenai Environmental Alliance was represented on the CAC by then Executive Director, Barry Rosenberg, along with six other individuals, including an independent consulting forester, representatives from Coeur d’Alene and Bayview Chambers of Commerce, and a representative of the Audubon Society along with two park users and neighbors.
Three government agencies also participated in the CAC: IDPR, IDFG and the Idaho Department of Lands. Monthly meetings of the committee began in December of 2002.
The CAC met for almost a year. Field trips were taken to look at other “restoration” projects, and information and scientific data was gathered from numerous experts. A public meeting was held where testimony, opinions and recommendations were recorded. The overwhelming opinion by the public was strongly opposed to any logging in the lakeshore area.
After extensive discussion, negotiation and compromise, the members of the CAC came to a consensus and in September 2003 announced its list of findings and recommendations to the public, which included that, “There should be no logging in the lakeshore area, a high use area for park visitors with many trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming and boat launch area and for concern for maintaining aesthetic values associated with the existing forest.”
The lakeshore area extends from Idlewilde Bay shoreline, up to an elevation of 2,231 feet. The area incorporates the steeper lakeshore property visible from Lake Pend Oreille, plus areas of heavy recreation use including Whitetail, Snowberry, and Buttonhook campgrounds.
Additional recommendations were made for outside of the lakeshore area to address specific forest management strategies related to tree species, work scheduling, fire risk and noxious weeds, as well as impacts on park visitors in user friendly areas.
Fast forward to fall of 2011
Since the lakeshore logging has begun, people are asking, “What’s next?”
Since much of the shoreline property is under the jurisdiction of the IDFG, questions were directed to that agency. Dave Leptich of IDFG was asked, “Does this mean that you plan ponderosa pine management (logging) along more of the lakeshore area?” His response in an e-mail was, “Generally speaking yes we intend to continue restoration of ponderosa pine with the Farragut WMA (Wildlife Management Area) including our shoreline parcels per the long-term management plan.” (emphasis added) Answers to the question “When?” were evasive. Leptich said that he didn’t think logging would commence again until 2014.
As Barry Rosenberg said when the CAC recommendations came out back in 2003, “We hope the Department of Parks and Recreation will take us seriously. We were invited to participate and it seems to me it would be disingenuous for the agency to ignore our recommendations after we spent so much time and energy.”
In regard to recommendations for the lakeshore area, both IDPR and the IDFG are dismissing as “advisory only” the CAC’s findings and recommendations that no logging be done. It is no wonder the public feels they are being both manipulated and betrayed.
Kootenai Environmental Alliance is working with Friends of Farragut and other grassroots groups to explore the options available so the public has a say about what “management” practices will be implemented in future “restoration” projects—in Farragut State park and on all of OUR public lands.
If you’d like to speak out and help preserve Farragut State Park’s natural beauty call Paul Chesney with Friends of Farragut at (509) 279-0911 or email chesneyp(at)televar.com or Harvey Brannigan (hbranning(at)care2.com.
You may also contact the Kootenai Environmental Alliance at www.kealliance.org. The Citizens Advisory Committee recommendations are viewable at /forest.
For more information on what is happening in the park you can visit www.farragutpark.org.
Photo (left) by David Blaine (Spokane) via Wikimedia Commons