BOISE -- It is day 11 of the Federal Government shutdown, and while negotiations are happening thousands of miles away in Washington, leaders here in Idaho say the Gem State is being hit hard.
A recent study released by WalletHub claims that Idaho is one of the hardest-hit states in the union, when it comes to the shutdown. Idaho checks in at ninth, due to our high reliance on federal contracting work (much of which has been put on stand-by) and our high reliance on loans from the U.S. Small Business Association (which can't be processed).
Idaho will feel even more impact from the shutdown next week, when logging in national forests is halted.
Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) talked about Idaho communities hurt hard by the dramatic decline of the timber industry last month. "Counties that were once dependent on timber receipts to fund schools, roads, and daily operations, find themselves desolate and broke." The Congressman said it was time for the Federal Government to help bring it back. "It is time to permanently provide our counties with a solution which will create jobs, generate tax receipts for the counties, and improve forest health."
That didn't happen, and now, the Federal Government shutdown will do the exact opposite.
The U.S. Forest Service says it will have to shut down logging operations on national forests across the country (including, of course, Idaho and Oregon), as timber sales and stewardship contracts are suspended. A spokesman regretted the impact, but said logging activities that require Forest Service oversight and management have to be stopped.
Those with Idaho's Jensen Lumber Company say that would completely shut off their revenue stream. If that happens, even for a short time, they might have to close their mill. Lieutenant Governor Brad Little (R-Idaho) said that would be a huge hit to the state's forests and economy. "With the stop in federal timber sales and harvest, everyone loses- the last sawmill in southeastern Idaho closes down, rural communities lose jobs, forest health is at greater risk, and the federal debt crisis is made worse and still left unaddressed."
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) agreed that the logging shutdown is another economic hit to rural communities already in tough shape.
Lieutenant Governor Little believes Forest Service employees should be put back on the job immediately, so that logging and timber sales can continue.
The shutdown comes as loggers typically look forward to one more month of work, before winter weather makes conditions tougher.