North Idaho

Blackwell Point logging upsets environmentalists

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Farragut State Park offers a beautiful view of Lake Pend Oreille and an escape into the forest, but visitors may notice a difference at one of the viewpoints, where logging has changed the landscape and spurred controversy.

"We've been getting a lot of calls from the public feeling very slighted that their comments weren't taken into consideration," Adrienne Cronebaugh with the Kootenai Environmental Alliance said.

At Blackwell Point, on Farragut Park near Bayview, Idaho Fish and Game cleared out three acres of vegetation to improve the view of the water. Then they moved over to the right and cleared out another eight acres of Douglas Firs.

Farragut Park logging

Fish and Game said they needed to remove the trees for the Ponderosa Pines -- a priority habitat for restoration -- and that there were was a public meeting about it.

"Ponderosa pines will not regenerate or grow under more than 60 percent shade. With all the invasive trees that shade out you go back out there and look there are no young Ponderosa Pines there," Dave Leptich with Fish and Game said.

But the Kootenai Environmental Alliance said they never heard about a public meeting and that several years ago a citizen's advisory committee recommended no logging along the lakeshore and no logging of old growth.

"The clearing goes well beyond the viewpoint section. It's a lot of old growth Douglas Firs," Cronebaugh said.

Fish and Game points out that those recommendations were advisory and not all were taken into consideration. In any case they say they are trying to protect the Ponderosa Pine by removing what's considered younger Douglas Fir.

"We logged in old growth forest but we didn't log old growth. We logged invasive species to restore old growth," Leptich said.

KEA wants to make sure the community's voice is heard while Fish and Game is trying to stick with their goal to continue tending to the forest.