WASHINGTON — The timber industry in Idaho has been humming since the mid-1990s, but its heyday was under attack.
In recent years, the industry’s share of the state’s economic pie has shrunk and some people wonder whether the industry is about to collapse.
“The last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of the industry suffer,” said Doug Gorman, a state forestry official who is a member of the Idaho Timber Industry Association.
“There’s been a decline in timber harvest, a lot less forest.
And that’s been really, really bad.”
Gorman is among a number of state officials who are warning that timber harvesting is slowing down in Idaho, the second-largest U.S. producer of timber.
The industry has been struggling to make ends meet.
The state lost more than 2 million acres of forest land during the past five years, and more than 10 percent of its timber land is cut for timber processing.
But the state is hoping to reverse that trend.
Gorman, who was the state timber official when the state first enacted a moratorium on logging, said the state has been working on a plan to make up for lost acreage by restoring forest to forest and restoring forested land to natural forest.
The plan would allow the state to harvest up to 1.5 million acres each year, and the state hopes to harvest more than 1 million acres by 2022, according to a report issued by the state last month.
That’s far short of the 5.5-million-acre target set by the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.
The Idaho State Forest Service also has a plan in the works to restore more than 860,000 acres of wilderness, according the report.
The forest plan, to be finalized this summer, would also provide for a return to the timber harvesting that was once the mainstay of the region.
The forest plan is a significant step forward, but there are still some hurdles that need to be overcome, Gorman said.
“We want to make sure that we’re taking the right steps to protect the forest,” Gorman told Fox News.
“But there are a lot more challenges.”
The plan calls for restoring up to 50 percent of the area in the western and southern regions to natural forests and to restore forested areas to natural, mixed-management forests, a process that involves planting trees in protected areas and reforesting areas that are already in use.
The plan also calls for a reduction in the number of timber-harvesting operations and the use of more traditional methods, such as burning.
Goland said the plan has been in the planning stage for several years.
In the meantime, he said the agency is doing a study on how to manage timber harvesting, which could result in a reduction of the amount of land that can be harvested each year.
Golin said the timber harvest is slowing in some areas because of a variety of factors, including a lack of federal and state support for the industry.
Gomersons office oversees Idaho’s timber harvest program.
It is one of the largest in the country.
Gomersons bureau of land management manages more than half of the country’s timber harvests.
He said he believes there is a good chance that the state could see a reduction to the current rate of 1.6 million acres per year.
The state recently completed a $6 million upgrade to the Idaho National Forest, which includes restoring an area of up to 3,000 square miles to a mixed-managed forest.
The new forest is about half the size of the existing one and it will include more trees, Gomerson said.
Gomerons office said the upgrade will help to preserve about 1.2 million acres in the area of the old forest.
Gomerons hopes to restore the entire forest by 2022.
He said that the new forest would not only increase the amount and quality of timber that can come into the state, but it would also help restore the habitat for endangered species.
Gomes office has also started work on a $7.8 million upgrade of the Big Bend National Park in the state that would include a new mixed- managed forest, as well as more trees.
That upgrade, Gomes office said, will be complete by 2020.
Gophers office is one element of a multi-agency effort to address the industry-wide problem of forest loss, which has caused damage to thousands of properties and caused billions of dollars in economic losses to the state.
The U.R.S., the World Wildlife Fund and several state forestry agencies are working to help to protect Idaho’s forests.
“It’s a lot easier to save money on a forest restoration if you do a lot, a fair amount of work,” Gomes said.
“And so we’re really trying to make that work in this state, and this region, so that the public understands