Note: NWAF! charter member, Robin Stanley’s,”My Turn” opinion piece in today’s (3/12/17) Coeur d’Alene Press.
North Idaho’s counties have a considerable stake in the management of the national forest areas they host. Counties depend on the U.S. Forest Service for multiple important services: Reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, fighting wildfires effectively when they inevitably occur, maintaining and enhancing forest health, fostering and developing forest-related economic activity, and insuring forest recreational uses and access. The greater the area covered by national forests in a county, moreover, the more that county will feel these needs.
The Forest Service’s organizational structure bears considerable relevance to the performance of these critical services for the counties that host national forests. Nowadays, there are three national forests stretched across the five northern-most counties of Idaho, one very big and two much smaller. The big one is called the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (2.4M acres), it being an organizational consolidation of what used to be used to be the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe, and Kaniksu national forests. One smaller forest is a segment of the Kootenai National Forest, which occupies eastern portions of Bonner and Boundary counties. Kootenai NF is administered out of the Forest Supervisor’s office in Libby, Mont. The second smaller national forest is a segment of the Clearwater National Forest, in the southern most portion of Shoshone County.