BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Department of Lands aims to increase timber harvests from state land by 16.5 percent annually, in hopes it will increase jobs and revenue to schools.

George Bacon, the agency director, told Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee members Monday he recommends hiking the annual statewide harvest level from 212 million board feet to 247 million board feet over the next several years.

That could result in 525 new jobs and up to $15 million in additional revenue annually.

Rep. Jim Patrick, a Republican from Twin Falls, questioned if boosting the supply of lumber coming from Idaho forests, coupled with a slumping economy and depressed construction, would further erode prices.

Bacon told him he's counting on the economy to pick up as harvests increase.

He says, "If the economic recovery is going to happen and happens slowly, this activity should hit the street as prices are going up."

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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