A billion feet of timber

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Gem State is home to more than 21 million acres of dense and plentiful forests, covering roughly 41% of the state. Our forests provide watersheds for drinking water and habitats for wildlife. Many of us spend our free time there -- hiking, ATV riding, camping, hunting, skiing, or simply enjoying Idaho’s outdoors. But our forests provide much more – Idaho’s forestry industry is vital to our very way of life.

Wood is the most basic component of homes, furniture, musical instruments, books, pencils, even toilet paper! The importance of this natural resource cannot be overstated, which is why the sustainability of our forests needs to be a top priority for the state of Idaho, for both the longevity of our timber supply and the availability of quality jobs.

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves. The latest data available from 2021 shows that Idaho’s forest industry harvested more than one billion feet of timber, generating $2.5 billion in lumber-related products. This economic impact is irreplaceable. Lumber production provides thousands of jobs, from loggers and mill workers to arborists and truck drivers. In fact, for each million board feet of timber harvested in Idaho, more than 30 jobs are provided. That equates to more than 30,500 job opportunities statewide, careers that support local Idahoans and their families.

Our Idaho economy relies heavily on our forests, which is why their overall preservation is also key. Sustainable harvesting, including selective logging, reforestation, and habitat preservation, upholds a delicate social contract between industry and society. After each year’s harvest, new trees are planted for the future. This commitment demonstrates how responsible resource management can and will ensure that future generations are set up for success.

So, what are the steps we can take to further protect this vital industry? The new Idaho LAUNCH program is one helpful step. High school seniors can apply for a grant of up to $8,000 to use toward Idaho post-secondary education for an in-demand career. This means interested students can use LAUNCH to help them study for a degree or learn a trade that is needed in Idaho’s forest products sector. A true win-win for both future forestry professionals and the Gem State!

Idaho is known for its abundant forests. Using these natural resources requires walking a fine line between responsible use and exploitation. Idaho is actively working to ensure we never cross that line. Our forest industry is simply too important for our state, our citizens, our country, and our very way of life.

The best thing we can all do right now is make sure our lumber producers have the right tools, guidelines, and candidates to guarantee the continued success of the forestry industry. Let us support the hardworking men and women who cultivate these important resources so we all can reap the benefits well into the future.