20.4 million acres of beautiful Idaho – fully 40 percent of the state’s entire land mass and 75 percent of its total forest land base – are owned by the United States Government and cared for by the U.S. Forest Service. Here, I will stipulate that the phrase “cared for” should be used advisedly, and should generally appear in quotes.
So much is at stake and so few seem to get it – the “it” here being the fact that Montana’s timber industry is teetering on the brink of collapse at the precise same moment when it ought to be laying the cornerstone for its own bright future.
What we are – and I include all of us in this description – is a collection of small, medium and large businesses. The largest are generally public traded companies, like Weyerhaeuser, Temple Inland and Louisiana Pacific. But most of our so-called industry is family-owned. The only thing we have in common with one another is the tree itself.
Good morning. I am your second-string keynote speaker. Your first-string speaker, Marc Racicot begged off, perhaps recognizing what a political mine field your conference theme poses. “The Law and Forestry”: oil and water, David and Goliath, night and day, the good the bad and the ugly. You get the picture.