The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) will continue producing services and goods from Idaho forests, and that includes toilet paper. IDL manages around one million acres of forests growing on Idaho Endowment Lands. In fiscal year 2019, $1.3 billion in services and goods, including Idaho-produced toilet paper) were generated from timber harvests on endowment land. Timber sales generated $77 million in revenue, supported more than 6,600 jobs, and more than $270 million in wages.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified “Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products as critical during the COVID-19 response.”
“The Idaho Department of Lands is moving forward with forest management during the COVID-19 crisis, not only to ensure necessary products get to consumers, but to keep our forests healthy through sustainable forest practices,” said State Forester Craig Foss of the Idaho Department of Lands. “Our practices of planting, taking care of our young and aging forests, and harvesting when the time is right, allows us to provide a renewable resource while keeping forests growing strong for future generations.”
Forest management operations are taking place while still following Governor Brad Little’s stay-home guidelines, as well as social-distancing practices. In many ways, the timing of the coronavirus outbreak comes at a good time for the logging industry. Traditionally, the transition from winter to spring creates difficult timber hauling conditions due to melting snow and mud on logging roads, resulting in a slowdown of logging activity.
IDL foresters and contractors will also move forward with seedling planting operations beginning in the coming weeks while practicing social-distancing policies. More than 1.6 million seedlings were planted last year on endowment lands and this year’s number is 1.9 million.
“My priority is to keep our staff as healthy as possible and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this time, while still continuing to provide these critical services,” said Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller. “Our foresters work in remote areas already, but we will be disinfecting work vehicles, practicing social-distancing and other important guidelines.”
When Idaho became a state, Congress granted Idaho Endowment Trust Lands for the sole purpose of funding specified beneficiaries. Chief among the endowment beneficiaries are public schools, as well as the University of Idaho, state hospitals for the mentally ill, Lewis-Clark State College, state veterans’ homes, Idaho State University, the Capitol Commission, Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, and Idaho’s juvenile corrections system and prison system.
There are 2.5 million acres of endowment land in Idaho, with about 1 million acres of timberlands. Sustainable forest management and timber sales generated more than $43 million in net income for beneficiaries in fiscal year 2019.