National Forests in Idaho- Economics & Uses
In the days of the mines, timbers to support the tunnels as well as boards and timbers for housing and places of business were needed. Local lumber companies provided each community with the wood products it needed.

Lumbering on a larger scale did not begin until after 1900 when Weyerhauser began operating plants near Sandpoint and Moscow in northern Idaho. Lumber operations still were not too large for several years, but with better forest management two large companies grew up in Idaho. The Potlatch Corporation had its headquarters in Lewiston until 1965 when it moved to San Francisco. The Barber and the Payette companies joined together into the Boise-Payette Lumber Company, which was renamed Boise Cascade in 1957. Today, Boise Cascade has its world headquarters located in Boise and is one of the world's largest lumber companies.

The timber industry was the second largest industry in the state, after agriculture, until the 1950s. Then tourism and manufacturing moved ahead of lumbering as the state's largest industries. However, manufacturing also includes the processing and manufacturing of the products from sawed timber, so the timber industry is still of great importance to Idaho . The forest industry in Idaho is responsible for a variety of wood and paper products. Idaho has 91 operating sawmills producing a variety of products such as 2 x 4 studs, plywood, waferboard and particleboard. Other plants produce house logs, posts and poles, and a variety of cedar products. Idaho also has a pulp and paper mill in Lewiston. Pulp and paper mills outside of Idaho also receive supplies of wood chips from Idaho mills. Plants manufacturing containers from pulp and paper products are located in Nampa, Twin Falls and Burley. Also important to Idaho are the industries that rely on Idaho lumber to produce finished products. Mobile homes, doors, molding, wood beams and roof supports, all bring jobs and money into Idaho's economy.

Most Idaho forest products are sold in the Midwest. However, a large amount of Idaho timber is sold to Japan. Besides lumber, Idaho mills make wooden matches, telephone poles, railroad ties, mining timbers, plywood, chipboard, pres-to-logs, food cartons, facial tissue, and many other products.

Today Boise Cascade Corporation and Potlatch Forests, Inc. are Idaho's two giants in lumbering and manufacturing forest products. However, large and small companies are important to Idaho's lumbering business. Many cities in northern Idaho depend on forest work and forest products for income. Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, and Lewiston are Idaho's three most important lumbering and wood manufacturing centers, Lumbering is also important in Bonners Ferry, Priest River, St. Maries, Potlatch, Orofino, Grangeville, McCall, Cascade, and Emmett.

Not all timber operations belong to the large companies. Smaller companies throughout the state produce 6.5 per cent of Idaho's lumber. Many national companies have closed mills in Idaho. In the last few years and as a result, these smaller companies are growing in importance in the state.

Land of Many Uses
Idaho's forests have many uses. Conservation does not mean that the forests are not used. It means they are used carefully so they won't be destroyed. Besides being important for watershed and for lumber, the forests have other important uses. Wild animals live in the forest, and the forest protects them. Cattle and sheep graze in many parts of the forest. People can go into the forests to cut Christmas trees and firewood and poles for fences. People use the forest for enjoyment - camping, hiking, backpacking, rafting, fishing, hunting, dude ranching, skiing, nature study, and countless other pleasures. Finally, Idaho's forest are an important and lasting part of the state's history.
Written and compiled by Jacqueline Harvey 1999.