Timber, livestock grazing

Cattle graze in the understory of a stand of larch that has been thinned and seeded with grass north of Blanchard, Idaho. A proposal in the Idaho Legislature would require a landowner’s written permission before timber land could be annexed into a city.

Private land devoted to forestry and larger than 5 acres could be annexed only with the owner’s written permission under a proposal in the Idaho Legislature.

House Bill 451 would complement a 2019 state law requiring cities to get written permission from owners of agricultural land larger than 5 acres.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tony Wisniewski, R-Post Falls, said it would fit communities where forest land is a common neighboring use near city boundaries. He is from Kootenai County, where the population has grown in recent years.

Preserving farmland as well as land in the wildland-urban interface has become an issue in the West due to increased growth and urbanization.

“The speed of growth is rapid, and we are seeing some of that growth spread out around cities that have the room,” Kootenai County Planning and Zoning Commission member John Malloy said.

In Kootenai County, growth is occurring in cities such as Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hauser. In the region’s largest city, Coeur d’Alene, most growth is within the city limits.

Malloy and Wisniewski agreed forestland annexation now is not a big issue in northern Idaho because most annexations are at the owner’s request to accommodate new construction.

A similar 2019 proposal dealing with private forestland was folded into a larger annexation-related bill. A committee eventually dismissed the larger bill as too complex, Wisniewski said.

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