The state of Idaho has entered into a $7,700 agreement with a private property owner south of Ketchum to access approximately 230 acres of timberland near Bald Mountain, the Idaho Department of Lands announced in a press release.

The purchased easement grants state foresters the ability to manage dead and down trees on the section of forest. First, the state will need to construct a private access road through the property, which sits at the end of Owl Rock Road and continues south and west in the Clear Creek drainage.

IDL director Dustin Miller said the easement will help address dead and dying timber left to rot, which imperils other healthy trees in the vicinity.

“This easement is a win for the area’s forestlands and for endowment beneficiaries,” Miller stated. “With this new access we can harvest the dying timber, improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk in the area … [I]f we did nothing, eventually the 230 acres of timber would lose all value, likely burn, and may cause disease and insects to spread to adjacent forestland.”

Had the easement agreement not been negotiated, Miller said, the state would have had to build a much more “expensive and technically challenging” road to access timberland near Baldy, which “would have left a visible scar across the hillside.”

“Our partner in this venture gains a new road for better access to their property,” he added.

Department spokeswoman Sharla Arledge said the timber is expected to go up for auction in January or February 2022. The highest bidder will have two years to harvest the wood, she wrote via email.

“The appraised value of the timber sale is about $60,000, which is the minimum amount for which the timber will be sold at public auction.  If multiple bidders participate in the auction, the sales price may go higher,” Arledge said.

All $60,000, along with any additional revenue from the timber sale next year, will be distributed to Idaho public schools via the state’s Public School Endowment Reserve Fund, Arledge added.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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