February 1, 2012
c/o Friends of the Palouse Ranger District
1066 Nearing Rd
Moscow, ID 83843-8770
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns with the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you know, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Western Pacific Timber LLC are in the process of considering a land exchange in north central Idaho. Under this proposed equal value land exchange, Western Pacific Timber LLC would exchange acres of checkerboard land near Powell and Lolo Pass for acres of national forestland located in Clearwater, Idaho and Latah Counties.
I am aware this environmental review process has been under way since 2008, and public scoping began in November of that year. During that time, public open-house meetings were held in Moscow, Elk River and Elk City. The USFS received 120 comments from agencies, conservation groups and private individuals, and I have reviewed many of these comments. This first round of public scoping ended on January 5, 2009. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was expected to be completed this past July, but after reviewing the public comments, the USFS decided to reconsider the terms of the exchange, thereby delaying the release of the draft EIS. As you know, the EIS process must be completed before a final decision can be made by the USFS on how to proceed with the proposed exchange.
Thank you for sharing your comments with me. While the land exchange process is currently being carried out exclusively at the agency level, I am closely following the process and will ensure you have a process in place where your concerns are heard. In the meantime, I would encourage you to continue to express your views on this matter through the opportunities made available to you through the USFS and Western Pacific Timber.
Again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to contact me in the future on this or other matters of interest to you. For more information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos, and other items of interest, please visit my Senate website, http://crapo.senate.gov.
United States Senator