[Vision2020] Comment Period Begins Friday for Lochsa Land Swap

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Nov 16 03:46:31 PST 2011

Courtesy of today's (November 16, 2011) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Comment period begins Friday for Lochsa land swap
By Kathy Hedberg Lewiston Tribune staff writer
A comment period begins Friday on a supplemental draft environmental impact statement analyzing an Idaho County proposal to the Upper Lochsa land exchange.
Clearwater/Nez Perce Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell announced Monday there will be two open houses to review the document as well as a 60-day comment period. The first will be 2-7 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Best Western Salmon Rapid Lodge in Riggins; the second will be 2-7 p.m. Nov. 29 at the National Guard Armory in Grangeville.
"This will not be an easy decision to make," Brazell said in a news release. "There is nearly unanimous support for acquiring the Upper Lochsa lands, but every parcel we have identified for possible exchange has a concerned and vocal constituency."
The Idaho County proposal, referred to as Alternative F, identifies about 45,000 acres of federal lands entirely within Idaho County that could be considered for exchange for roughly 40,000 acres of Western Pacific lands within the Upper Lochsa drainage - also located within Idaho County.
The Upper Lochsa Land Exchange was initiated in 2008. It originally involved the exchange of 40,000 acres of Western Pacific Timber lands interspersed with Forest Service lands near Lolo Pass for scattered parcels of national forest lands in Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai and Latah counties.
The original draft EIS was released in November 2010. It identified the no action alternative as well as four action alternatives: a modified exchange involving about 17,854 acres of federal lands; a combined exchange/purchase; a combined exchange/purchase that is phased in over the course of three years; and the direct purchase of all nonfederal lands.
The Idaho County Commissioners objected to all action alternatives because of potential negative economic effects to Idaho County's tax base and countered with their own alternative, which is the focus of the supplemental draft EIS.
Teresa Trulock, the team leader for the project, said Monday this new document takes the Idaho County proposal and runs it through the same process as the others, looking at different tracts of land regarding the effect on wildlife, fisheries, recreation, water quality and other considerations.
There are no recommendations at this point, she said. The Forest Service's official preference is "Alternative D," but Trulock said Brazell's final decision will be made following the public review of the Idaho County proposal.
The land studied under the commissioners' proposal includes three tracts of land located to the east and to the south of Grangeville and two tracts of land located to the northwest of Riggins.
These five tracts are relatively large, ranging from 3,200 acres to nearly 20,000 acres. They are located along the edge of the Nez Perce National Forest and border private, state and other federal lands.
For the most part the federal parcels are timbered.
In an acre-for-acre exchange, as proposed by the county, about 38,827 acres of forest land in Idaho County would be exchanged for the Western Pacific land in the upper Lochsa.
But because federal laws and regulations require Forest Service land exchanged to be based on equal value of federal land for an equal value of nonfederal land, an acre-for-acre exchange would require specific federal legislation to be authorized.
Anyone wishing for more information on the project can go to:
Kathy Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg at gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.
Additional information concerning the Lochsa Land Exchange may also be accessed at:
Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"If not us, who?
If not now, when?"

- Unknown
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