I recently signed a petition urging IDFG to reconsider logging the 52-acre Sunnyside Cedar Grove. Here are my comments:
As the authority tasked with protecting and preserving all of Idaho’s wildlife in perpetuity, you have a weighty responsibility. With limited funding and the constraints imposed by human resource needs, conservation can be a balancing act.
The stand in question is unusually mature in an area with extensive logging history. The Sunnyside Peninsula is a rich, diverse area, providing habitat for waterfowl, ungulates, shorebirds, ospreys, bald eagles, migrant and resident songbirds, and many less conspicuous forms of wildlife. How important is this stand’s contribution to habitat diversity and species richness on local and intermediate geographic scales? How will extensive logging affect the existing wetland? Lowland amphibians are experiencing unprecedented pressures with as-yet unknown implications. Salamanders have been seen in the forest; how will tree removal and forest floor disturbance impact their foraging habitat? Moonworts, a group of rare ferns associated with moist cedar habitat, are very small, notoriously difficult to detect, and don’t necessarily emerge every year. What impact would logging have on Moonworts? This forest is rich in moisture, mycorrhizal fungi, mosses, and trees with long lives ahead. As the stand continues to mature, forbs will diversify in the understory, lending further biological richness.
Beyond the direct conservation value of this stand, this place has substantial potential for fostering human connection with nature – vital for conservation. I urge you to explore options for securing public access to this property; its proximity to Sandpoint, Lake Pend Oreille, and a diverse mix of habitats presents an unusual opportunity for education and recreation. The deep public concern for this grove and the interest in its thriving lifeforms is very positive, and hints at the potential this fecund forest has for teaching us about ecology and conservation. This forest has far greater value living than sawn.
The controversy over the future of this stand highlights the complex issues of effectively funding conservation work. I encourage you to explore non-traditional funding means to supplement license revenue and ease the conditions which encourage sacrificing healthy, old forests in order to accomplish other conservation goals. Options such as a modest yearly non-hunter usage permit for Fish and Game lands would increase public funding for conservation.
I urge you to see the concerns the public has voiced as an opportunity for collaboration.