Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) is leading the effort to possibly facilitate the transfer of public lands to Western Pacific Timber. It would be disappointing if legislation for an exchange results from this effort. Congress has long held that the National Environmental Policy Act to be the public involvement tool for decision-making. Indeed, Congress realized years ago it didn’t want to micro-manage federal agencies and came up with guidance in laws on how agencies were to conduct exchanges in the rare instances they would seem to be warranted. Legislative exchanges violate that sound policy, are usually backroom deals, and almost always result in a loss for the public.
Senator Risch or any other member of Congress could best serve the public by assisting the public to purchase these lands. Some of the money needed for the purchase could come from the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a federal program established and controlled by Congress, for such acquisitions. Some money could also come from private entities through donation or conservation trust that works to acquire lands for the public good. A complete purchase option in order to obtain the 39,000-acres of private lands in the upper Lochsa drainage is the only viable solution in the public interest.
Please consider contacting Idaho Senator Jim Risch to let him know that you oppose any efforts to sponsor legislation that would take away valuable public lands owned by all Americans, in order to satisfy the desires of Western Pacific Timber. The upper Lochsa lands need to be returned to the public domain, but not at the expense of trading away other valuable public lands.
U.S. Senator Jim Risch, United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510, (202) 224-2752