Idaho's forest towns will see huge financial influx with stimulus

In Idaho’s rural timber counties, the housing slump didn’t start the depression.

For residents of Benewah, Boundary, Clearwater, Shoshone, Idaho and Adams County, the slump began in the 1990s and the economy never really recovered. The backwoods, backwater economy was tied to the timber industry. First the industry cut jobs by making its mills efficient. Then environmentalists tied up timber sales with the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

Finally, the Canadian timber industry, aided by its government, made it impossible for remaining mills to compete. The housing slump put the nail in the coffin.

Visit towns like Elk City in the past decade and you saw the hope dying as the jobs went away. Republican Sen. Larry Craig offered some hope that he would find a way to revive the industry with timber sales to thin the forests and make them more fire resistant.

But at the same time, he supported efforts to make the Forest Service smaller, which led to laying off and moving federal employees from Orofino, Salmon, St. Anthony and Bonners Ferry. He couldn’t turn the environmentalist tide nor stop the Canadians. He also couldn't provide an alternate vision for these towns and it was one of his great failures.

So today Benewah and Clearwater counties’ unemployment exceeds 12 percent. Shoshone County is at 10 percent and Boundary County is at more than 9 percent.

The closure of Tamarack Resort in Valley County underscores the false promise that tourism offered to these rural counties. While Tamarack will likely live on in some form and tourism will always be a part of the economy of Idaho’s backwoods, the vision that it was a panacea died with resort's closure.

So what will lift these counties up?

In the short term, it will be the stimulus bill. Lost in the debate over Idaho’s stimulus allocation is the funding that will come to federal agencies like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

The Forest Service alone will get $1 billion and nearly 20 million acres of Idaho, mostly in the poverty-stricken north, is national forest. Craig did leave these counties a 75 percent increase in funds for schools and counties in one of his last major votes.

So together these rural counties are going to see an influx of dollars like they haven’t since the 1980s. The Forest Service is planning $650 million in construction projects nationwide that will be announced over the next month. Another $250 million is going for wildfire prevention, one of the few stimulus provisions Sen. Mike Crapo supported.

Overall, the agency predicts it will create 30,000 jobs.

Idaho is certainly going to get its share. The man in charge of stimulus work for the Forest Service is David Dillard, a former district ranger in Ashton.

The money will be spent for removal of brush from overgrown forests, watershed and stream restoration projects, construction and reconstruction of timber bridges, and road and trail maintenance. These will be jobs in Idaho's forest communities.

"As we implement this legislation, we will not increase the federal workforce,” Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell said in a press release. “We will spend all funds on targeted ready projects; and we will begin our work promptly and complete it within two to three years for most activities."

I suspect the Forest Service will have to hire as contractors some of its retired employees to help it write all the contracts it is going to have. In addition the BLM will have $350 million in stimulus funds.

This influx won’t turn around the economies of these struggling counties. Perhaps the development of biomass energy projects, with help from the stimulus, could provide lasting jobs but most of this work will be done by 2011.

How the Forest Service proceeds afterward will tell whether its effects will last. Will the trees that remain offer sustainable jobs for the future?

It will only happen with a new national consensus.

Just as these towns benefit from the mass of firefighters that invade when a big fire burns, rural Idaho is going to see money like it hasn’t for a long time. Will it leave a blackened landscape with no hope when its gone?

Or will it spark a recovery like a reborn forest? The answer lies in the Obama administration and its vision for the future of the nation's forests.

Forest Jobs

The jobs you predict will all be seasonal and while they will add some money to salmons share of it the money will be short lived. I see a problem with the hiring of retired forest service employees to work in the recovery as they will be living on their pensions and getting a wage. There is plenty of rage at FS retirees who supported and implimented the loss of lumbering and mining jobs then built large retirement homes while their neighbors suffered. I see a lot of money going to groups like the Salmon Valley Stewardship who collaborate and form partnerships with other enviormental groups and will reward their own people. Administration will take more money and then we will be back where we started.

I am having a hard time....

Trying to determine what is journalistically ethical these days.

How can a reporter write commentary/editorialize and in the same paper write what is supposed to be "hard news."

You expect us to take your news stories as unbiased hard news yet you write this blog where you leave out important facts and show your bias as much in what you leave out as to what you put in.

Similar staff get the same freedom to pursue both their personal/political agenda in "commentary" and sometimes in the same issue get above-the-fold "hard news" bylines.

Maybe this is the new way for journalism where there just is not a hard line between news and editorial. Most reputable journalism schools used to teach and preach about a wall between them. You can call it a "grey area" or "sign of the times" or try wiggle out of it any way you want but the fact is you have an agenda and I guess now are free not to even attempt to hide it anymore.

Print news ought to look at this conflict as to one of the reasons for its decline. The savvy reader is no longer able to look to print to find agenda free news.

What's my agenda here?

I acknowledge I hope that Idaho's rural economy improves. But I reject that I am pushing an agenda. The Obama administration is either going to help hurt or make no difference.

By the way, I'm hoping my commenters will fill in what they consider left out.

You just flung a lot of accusations there

But you didn't substantiate any of it with information from this story. Try to stay on topic there buddy, your above piece could have been sent to just about any journalist that also writes editorials.

Truth is hard to come by

That is the point:

I don't believe that journalists/reporters should write editorials/opinion/commentary if their reporting work is to be taken as unbiased news

Specifically, Mr. Barker states that: "Craig did leave these counties a 75 percent increase in funds for schools and counties in one of his last major votes."

It leaves out the original impetus for these funds were the "Craig/Wyden Secure Rural Schools" bill. A major success and influx of funds into these rural counties and IMO is contradictory to Barker's blanket editorial opinion that; "He (Craig) also couldn't provide an alternate vision for these towns and it was one of his great failures."

He also writes: "Visit towns like Elk City in the past decade and you saw the hope dying as the jobs went away. Republican Sen. Larry Craig offered some hope that he would find a way to revive the industry with timber sales to thin the forests and make them more fire resistant."

The bias is where Barker leaves out why these projects did not come to fruition (blocking by enviro groups).

Fire up the mills again to do the thinning and bio mass and yes God forbid produce lumber and the rural timber economy will bounce back in a heart-beat.

I guess my overall point Junkie is that I do not like the trend of reporters doing their own commentary/opinion blogging/editorializing. I think it cheapens their legitimacy as news reporters.

Choose a hat and wear it proudly, don't try to wear both at the same time and claim no bias. I did not mean to hijack the thread and go off topic.

bias

Any reporter who claims they are unbiased is lying either to themselves or all of us. We all have bias and most of our readers are glad we do. Take these statements: Freedom is good. War is bad. Killing is wrong. Love is good. Most of us agree with these value judgments. But they are bias just the same. I think what most people want to to get their news from people whose bias is more like their own.

In my reporting I seek to tell my readers what I believe the truth is as I know it and what I don't know. Then I seek to provide plausible alternatives to my views.

I think acknowledging my biases makes me more credible not less. My blog is not meant to be an editorial. I generally don't tell people what I want them to do. I try, though acknowledge myself that I'm not perfect, to instead analyze what the choices are and what the conditions are that brought us to them.

Can you name an unbiased reporter?

Biased reporting

Excellent point, Rocky. The answer, of course, is none. The worst scientists/professors I know are the ones to claim "no bias" in what they do. Losers, every one. Either dumb as rocks, blatant liars, or purposefully self-deceptive.

The blog is an ideal way to address your biases, as many of us have been doing for some time now.

Please keep up the good work. And if you don't watch your biases, we will!

Tweedle Dee

Rocky thinks, "I think what most people want to to get their news from people whose bias is more like their own."
***

I belive you are WRONG.

I want to read the news! Period!
I will then assimilate and formulate my own opinion and bias.

YOUR opinion only clutters the news. Especially when we all know your opinion is L A M E. Really, you first need to have some credibility in writing before we care about YOUR opinion.

Tom Brokaw-- I care about his opinion because he as credibility in reporting the the news. He is not the one putting a bias on it. He reports it. And given his vast knowledge of the world news, I accept he has some valuable opinion- regardless if I agree with him or not. You, Rocky, are so far down the list on journalism I can't even stand to read your garbage.

BTW I did not read this whole article- I started with the comments and zeroed in on this thread and then read the paragraph about your ridiculous sentence of Tamarack being in Idaho County. Do you not know things like that, and you just don't care enough to look em up, or are you just that sloppy?

thanks

for your opinion

C'mon

Geez, Rocky at least you could answer my question.
Do you not know and don't care to look to look it up, or are you really that sloppy? (your writing that is, I'm not talking about your clothes).

Then don't read his opinion next time.

The world is not your oyster, or your toilet.

Oysters and Clams

Oysters and clams are not found near dams
Toilets like excuses, everyone has one
Careful or a wolf will eat your hams
No this does not have a pun.

*****
Unfortunately, Poet, there are lesser life forms who might believe Barker's krap. And then the rest of us have to spend much more efforts to reverse the effects of such propaganda. It is easier to head off the wave before it starts.

Just as mentioned in this piece the enviros do stuff like use the ESA to restrict logging and now we all have to pay for the lack of thinking in the form of megafires and pine beetle infestations.

And in direct answer, I usually don't read Barker opinion anymore. I skip over it as I expect it to be junk- but I am still worried about the long-term damage of liberal media on impressionable minds...

And an oyster is a terrible thing to waste.

A mind is still a terrible thing to taste...re: Ministry

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

It's not your world...

If they kill you for your "oyster-whatever" Rolex AND your toilet paper.

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We're gonna take out the Ty-D-Bol Man tonight, mates!

I don't wanna clean a commode that large.

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Gilligan inhaled

Re:Bias

I like the fact that when you are questioned about your bias in your reporting you are honest about it. You shot straight with me and I appreciate it. In spite of the fact that we are biased in different directions I value your ability to gather and synthesize information. And for your biases, you are as fair as any environmental reporter I have read.

Truth is hard to come by

I just never fully believe your tag without ingesting NaCl.

And YEAH, I know nobody did it as well as Paul Harvey, rest his soul.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

RE: "The Point."

Thanks for the clarification. I have long known that Rocky is biased, and when I challenged him on it he said as much. I have accepted that and now read his stuff through that filter. His admission of bias makes his writing to me more valuable, not less.

Truth is hard to come by

Thats why their stock is at $0.38 today

With a market cap of 31M.

Citadel is delisted and worth two.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

tamarack

When did Tamarack move up to Idaho County. Sneaky bast-ards. Probably did it in the dead of the night.

tamarack in idaho county ???

was thinking the same thing myself. guess since this is a blog and not a real news article, facts are not the pertinent.

It's a blog.

This is not intended to be "hard news."

It is a blog.

If the Statesman is supposedly to survive, the blog world opines

It will have to work like that.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

Tamarack

Tamarack isn't even close to Idaho County guys! It seems when you guys get out of the Treasure Valley you are lost? You are the largest newspaper in the State. Act like it. Maybe your cash flow problems will improve?

Sorry

I fixed the obvious error. Thanks.

Idaho county

Idaho County is probably pretty glad right about now.

Errors

"...was a panacea died with resort's closure."

Why couldn't you fix the other obvious error?
And as evidence that your whole point is wrong in that paragraph, please consult with the Wood River Valley Tourism Office, and McCall's tourism office.

******8
Seriously, Rocky, your writing matches a 10th grader's effort.
And mine might match a 9th grader's, but I'm not getting paid for this.

Maybe you can get a second career as a PIO for some lame environmental agency.

They probably layed off his editor.

Besides you should'nt pick a fight with a person who buys ink by the barrel.

Can you still get ribbons inked and Gestetner copy supplies?

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

Then start your own damn blog!

Do you ever have anything good to say?
Go take a laxative, maybe that'll get the bad taste out of your mouth.

Are you Dice Clay?

He's an angry poet too.

He ain't winning no Celebrity Apprentice for sure.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

I already did, then I canned it.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

Of all the columns to start a fire storm

This is one of the less controversial postings on this blog.

Truth is hard to come by

I have no charred phosphor inside my CRT.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

PS It's a DEPRESSION.

The tyranny, fascist mongering and hushed murders will start in ten minutes.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

This is Rocky's blog, not a news page

"Letters from the West," Rocky's blog, is an in-house (part of the Statesman) opinion page. As such, it is expected to have a a point of view.

Of course, it would not be suitable as straight news, but don't the critics here understand how a newspaper is structured?

Ok

Oooooh, my bust.
It's a BLOG.... so bad writing, grammar errors, misspelling, misinformation, disconnected thoughts, lack of reasoning, a political agenda, and de minimis value are perfectly acceptable, even when it's "in-house" for a NEWSPAPER. I got it.

Sounds a lot like the National Enquirer.

Yup, it's a blog.

And that's exactly why you can get your weird rants, name-calling, bad writing, and dumb opinions printed here!

Thank Rocky and the Idaho Statesman for that.

Condemn the whole paper...the secretary had nothing 2 do w/that!

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

I second the motion Bob

Truth is hard to come by

The stories are framed as if they are straight news.

And they are biased left, and thats ok. All I ask is identfy your pieces as opinion. But, I really enjoy the dicussion. Rocky, maybe you should run an article about news bias, I bet you would get 200 hits.

No encouragement, please. We has 1 or two cheeseburger now.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

To summarize: If Rocky wrote news and not opinion...

nobody would reply. Is this correct?

And if everybody were to acknowledge Rocky has a bias and it good to be that way then nobody would post either. Is that also true?

This presents a crisis of the wishy-washy kind! John McGloughlin, please save us all.

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

I propose we change the name of this section on IS dot com to:

argumentland.idahostatesman dot com

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To read is wonderful. To comprehend art. Falling back to whatever you believed in is NORMAL.

No money for V. Co.

This blog makes it sound like Valley County will be getting stimulus money because of Tamarack. Please investigate a bit. Valley County has no "shovel ready" projects, therefore will not be getting any of the highway stimulus money.

How about reporting on how much of the money the FS will be getting from the Feds that will be spent on Central Idaho's forests? So far nothing specific that I can find. (I did find where North Idaho's forests will get funds.) The projects back here were planned long before the stimulus money. (Burning more forest and closing more roads.)

So, how will Valley County benefit from: "Idaho's forest towns will see huge financial influx with stimulus" ?

I thought I actually found some real news here, but instead I read only hyperbole.

You are so far out of touch with rural Idaho Rocky (you still have not repaired the damage caused by calling volunteer firefighters "holdouts".) The rural communities would rather not have the huge mega fires, and no spending by firefighters on cookies and snacks will make up for past and future lost tourist revenue, lost jobs, blackened forests and degraded streams.

What if it's not from the government, just illegal?

Moonshine, ladies or the usual uninspired DROGAS?

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Gilligan inhaled