Rocky Barker blog for 2006.
Tim Blixseth told me he was going to become a part of Idaho.
He and his wife Edra moved into a penthouse next door to J.R. Simplot atop the Grove Hotel. He promised thousands to help then Gov. Dirk Kempthorne remodel Simplot’s hilltop estate into the governor’s mansion.
In 2006 Blixseth, the former Oregon pauper who had risen to timber mogul, was on top of the world. He had just bought 178,000 acres of forestlands that only a couple of years earlier had been Boise Cascades.
He had a almost unlimited $375 million loan from Credit Suisse and he was talking about doing more land deals in Idaho. He wanted to trade the forests that line Highway 55 along the North Fork of the Payette River.
He still had nearly 40,000 acres in North Idaho that included part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. He was going to be a conservationist and he thought he could do that and still make lots of money.
Even though he had been forced to pay Montana for water quality violations, Blixseth said he cared about the land. When he owned Crown Pacific in North Idaho in the 1990s, Blixseth had promoted good forest practices so it wasn’t hard to believe him even as he built his crowning glory, the Yellowstone Club ski resort in the middle of grizzly bear habitat.
“I love bears,” Blixseth told me during our 2006 interview. “I love wolves too.”
He was going to eventually develop his lands around McCall. He was watching neighboring Tamarack closely because he had land adjacent to the ski resort. Its efforts to trade land with the Forest Service and the state also competed with his own plans since there was only enough staff and time in the agency to handle one big trade at a time.
But Blixseth had bigger fish to fry. He was expanding his Yellowstone Club concept of a retreat for the super rich into a series of resorts, Yellowstone Club World. He was trying to become a record executive.
He was going on Today to promote Habitat for America and the song he wrote. He was now on Forbes list of the richest people of the world.
It all came crashing down as the economy dove and all of his excesses came back to haunt him. He and his wife Edra divorced and separately they are sinking in a financial quagmire, outlined in a story in the New York Times
Potlatch now has the Boise Cascade lands and Blixseth is still trying to finish the land deal up north. Idaho is only a small part of Blixseth’s current troubles.
And he is an even smaller part of Idaho life.