Letters From the West

Risch meets with Forest Chief Tidwell to try to help Idaho sawmill

Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch

Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch

Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch met Friday with U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell to try to help free up a southeast Idaho sawmill owners from the claws of the government shutdown.

Sawmill owner Brad Jensen of tiny Ovid in Bear Lake County, got a cease and desist letter last week from the Forest Service telling him he has until Tuesday to pull his logging crew off of a timber sale south of Soda Springs. The agency has sent similar letters to loggers and mill owners across the nation due to the shutdown of the government Oct. 1.

Risch is hopeful the chief, who attended Capital High School, might be able to help Jensen, who has to get the timber out o the woods this fall or might go out of business and leave 70 people in the town of Ovid without work.

“I know Tom really well,” Risch said. “He is one of the guys you can deal with in the administration.

“He’s doing the best he can,” Risch said. “He apologized for what he’s doing.”

Risch, who got involved at the request of Idaho Lieutenant Gov. Brad Little, said Tidwell was exploring whether Jensen’s situation could be considered an emergency.

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