Letters From the West

Idaho Forest Group promotes private tree farms

If you have 10 acres or more of forest and are ready to manage it wisely, you can get both a tax break and a higher price for the wood when you sell it.

Idaho Forest Group, a Coeur d’Alene-based family-owned forest products company, has made expanding the number of certified tree farms in the state a priority. It announced it will offer a preference and financial premium for American Tree Farm System certified wood.

Gale and Pat Akers of Worley were Idaho's Outstanding Tree Farmers in 2012

Gale and Pat Akers of Worley were Idaho’s Outstanding Tree Farmers in 2012(Idaho Tree Farm photo)

The  company will give the majority of the financial bonus directly to the landowner, with a portion also given to the state Tree Farm program from which the wood originated. Already the company has convinced 300 forest landowners to develop written plans that protects water quality, wildlife habitat, soil, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities as well as fiber production.

They can pay a premium for this wood because customers are demanding wood that meets the certification standards. It’s no longer satisfactory to simply grow as much wood as possible, harvest and replant to meet many markets that expect sustainable forestry practices.

“Healthy forests need healthy markets, and financial premiums can go a long way in helping tree farmers reinvest these resources into the management of their woodlands,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO with the American Forest Foundation, which runs the program.

For Idaho Forest Group these sustainable supplies help them grow their markets, said Tim Kyllo, a forester with Idaho Forest Group.

“It opens up more markets for us internationally,” Kyllo said.

Idaho Forest Group forester Doug Bradetich is on the Idaho Tree Farm Program executive committee and has worked with counties and landowners on the benefit of the American Tree Farm System membership.

“Sound, sustainable management of America’s private forests is of utmost importance to us,” said Scott Atkison, President of the Idaho Forest Group.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West