Bill Love Joins IFM

We are excited to announce that long-time Idaho Department of Lands forester, Bill Love, recently joined the forestry staff of Inland Forest Management, Inc.

Love, who recently retired from the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), has a long and distinguished history of working with private forest landowners in Idaho in numerous capacities. His extensive knowledge, genuine integrity, and friendly, outgoing working style will be of great benefit to clients. Love’s responsibilities with IFM will include helping with all phases of forest landowner service and assisting with the company’s wildland urban interface fire mitigation efforts.

In his previous positions with the IDL, Love served as Chief – Bureau of Forestry Assistance for Idaho and private forestry specialist in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry. He is a certified forester and Tree Farm inspector, and is actively involved in numerous organizations including the Idaho State Forestry Contest and the Idaho Forest Owners.

Love and Passion Lead to National Tree Farm Award

Love and passion are the words that are repeated in virtually every conversation, newspaper article, or speech about the story behind our clients’ Steve and Janet Funk’s recent recognition as 2011 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year by the American Tree Farm System—the first ever winners from the State of Idaho in the Tree Farm Program’s 70 year history! Steve and Janet Funk, managers of Edgecreek Properties, LLC, received this prestigious award in August. They were selected from more than 95,000 Tree Farm members who manage over 26 million acres of family forestland nationwide.

One of my greatest joys as a consulting forester is working with and getting to know people like Steve and Janet. I believe the best way to shed light on how they have been able to accomplish so much leading to this award is by exploring the relationship between passion and love.

According to Webster, Passion is defined as a strong liking: an object of desire or deep interest: intense driving or overmastering feeling or conviction. In turn, Webster defines love as strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties: Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: brotherly concern for others. It seems that love takes passion to the next level.

There is no doubt in the minds of people who know Steve and Janet Funk that one of their greatest passions is caring for their 324 forested acres just north of Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay. Although they may not have realized it at the time, the seeds of this passion were sown in the 1970s when they purchased a dilapidated house and 135 acres of floodplain and forest. Ten years later, the growing passion coaxed them into purchasing another 240 acres of heavily logged and degraded forestland adjacent to their fledgling Tree Farm.

A passion for their land enabled the Funks to overcome many challenges, the biggest of which included restoration of a stream and rehabilitation of the despoiled 240 acres. Passion drove Steve to take the first forestry short course offered by the University of Idaho Extension so he could learn about proper forest management. In the meantime, Janet not only worked to restore the stream, but became active in organizations and activities involving the entire Wolf Lodge Creek Watershed.

Under their stewardship, many trees have been planted, roads repaired, erosion controlled and riparian areas enhanced. These acres have also seen many small timber harvests (oftentimes accomplished personally by Steve), all designed to improve the forest condition and to utilize material that would otherwise be lost. Utilization is very important to the Funks, so Steve custom cuts some of their logs with his own sawmill.

Their forest improvement efforts are ongoing and the list of accomplishments seemingly endless (Steve Funk has even gone through the Master Forest Steward program and is now certified, much like a Master Gardener, to assist other forest owners), but to live on this land and raise a family while actively managing the forest for more than 35 years takes more than passion.

It takes more than passion to realize the importance of inspiring others and then spreading what you have learned by offering your property as a classroom for students and teachers. It takes more than passion to host tours for opinion leaders and chamber of commerce members so they can make informed decisions concerning our forests. It takes more than passion to be actively involved with organizations such as the Idaho Forest Landowner’s Association and the Tree Farm Program. It takes more than passion to instill within family members the desire to carry the torch so that, when the time comes, there will be people to assure that this land will continue to be managed sustainably. (And then to back it up with estate planning and the formation of a Limited Liability Corporation.) It takes more than passion to recognize and teach that the value of our forests goes beyond the forests’ ability to provide clean water, pure air, wildlife habitat, forest products, and jobs. As Janet puts it, “there is a Spirit in the Woods” and this spirit provides hope and helps to heal the soul.

This kind of commitment takes more than just an intense passion for forest stewardship. It takes a love for family, a love for people and a love for the land they are connected to. This combination of love and passion is what makes the Funk family so deserving of this award.

Thank you Steve and Janet for all you and your family have done. And congratulations on your well-deserved recognition!!
— Steven V. Bloedel, ACF, CF

“Our best hope for the future of sustainable forestry lies not just in how many people we or our children or grandchildren can reach. Rather, it is in how many people we can motivate enough to inspire them to pass these values on.”
— Janet Funk

American Tree Farm System

The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) is a program of the American Forest Foundation. ATFS works to enhance the quality of America’s woodlands by giving private forest owners tools to keep their forests healthy and productive. The green and white diamond shaped Tree Farm signs are widely recognized across the country. Water. Wildlife. Recreation. Wood. The four sides of the Tree Farm sign tell the story of sustainable forestry. Benefits of joining the Tree Farm Program include networking and support, group forest certification, a magazine, a sign, and forester visits and advice. Visit for more information.

In Memory

IFM and the North Idaho tree farm family have lost some very special landowners over the last year or so. Two of these individuals, Bob Scates and Dean Stevens, just passed away within the last few months. Bob and Dean were a unique breed—dedicated to land stewardship and also active in the political realm of the conservation world.

Bob Scates owned a large Tree Farm near Spirit Lake, Idaho, served in the Idaho State Legislature and retired from a successful dentistry practice in Coeur d’Alene. He was the consummate tree farmer—zealous about growing trees; always busy pruning, thinning and performing other tasks aimed at improving his forest. He also actively defended private landowner interests as a legislator and never hesitated to sing the praises of forest management to anyone who would listen. As recognition for his tremendous accomplishments, in 1986 he was named Idaho Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year.

Dean Stevens managed family forestland on Priest Lake and near Worley, Idaho, where, as a boy, he nurtured a love of the land and saw the value of sound land stewardship. He chose to pursue a career in teaching but enthusiastically instilled the concept of a land management ethic throughout his community. Dean was also an Idaho State Legislator as well as a member of the Bonner County Board of Commissioners—platforms he used to diligently promote natural resource management issues and the best interests of his constituents.

Bob and Dean join other valued members of the forest landowner community who have passed within the last year or so, including Bill Lukens (past president of the Idaho Forest Owner’s Association), Dr. Don Satterland (Professor of Forest Watershed Management, emeritus, Washington State University) and Phil Munn (all around great guy).

We at IFM have had the privilege and honor of working for these remarkable individuals and will always cherish the time spent with them as well as the lessons they’ve taught us.

Making Homes Safer

Inland Forest Management, Inc., was recently awarded the contract for managing Bonfire, Bonner County’s hazardous forest fuels reduction program. This program strives to reduce the risk of wildfire in the wildland/urban interface around communities by removing flammable forest fuels. The federally funded program focuses on creating fuel breaks by thinning and pruning trees and cutting brush to protect subdivisions and other areas where people live. IFM also administers similar programs in Boundary, Kootenai and Benewah Counties. If you live in a forested setting in any of these counties and are interested in learning more about these programs, please contact our office.

The 1910 Fires

One hundred years ago, an event took place in North Idaho that continues to have a major effect on our forest environment and management policies. On August 20, 1910, toward the end of an unusually dry summer, gale-force winds suddenly struck, transforming multiple existing fires into a huge, explosive conflagration that burned 3.1 million acres of forest, as well as numerous towns, mining camps, homesteads, railroad trestles, and other structures. Approximately 100 buildings (the eastern third) in Wallace were destroyed.

Miraculously, only 85 people died (although many more were seriously injured), mainly thanks to heroic efforts of individuals such as USFS crew foreman Ed Pulaski, who led 42 of his firefighters into a mining tunnel, where he commanded them to lie on their faces while he threw water on the burning support timbers of the tunnel before being overcome by the heat and smoke. Pulaski and all but six of his men survived and, although the survivors were “in a helpless condition” when rescued, all eventually recovered.
After the fire, many forest stands previously composed of white pine, larch and fir ended up regenerating with lodgepole pine. Also, serious soil erosion occurred on steep, denuded slopes, leaving vast expanses of exposed bedrock in many drainages. In fact, due to soil damage some areas never reforested and remain brush fields to this day. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the fire area subsequently re-burned due to the dead timber left by the fire. In addition, a bark beetle epidemic developed following the fire and killed millions more board feet of white pine. Much of the burned area is now stocked with even-aged timber and heavy fuels, thus making conditions ripe for another catastrophic fire.

Forest management policies were forever changed. At the time, the fledgling U.S. Forest Service was being considered for elimination but the huge fire clearly demonstrated the importance of this agency, which immediately started a policy of aggressively suppressing all wildfires. (In 1950, the Smokey Bear campaign was created to help promote this policy.) This very proactive fire suppression approach has also contributed to the heavy fuel build up in our current forests.

This year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the event, the Inland Empire Society of American Foresters annual meeting will focus on the 1910 Fires: their history, impact on forest management and policy today, and the likelihood of such devastating fires occurring in the future. The meeting will be held, quite appropriately, in Wallace, Idaho, on May 20 – 22, 2010. For more information about the meeting and how to attend, visit

Who Is a Forester?

The expertise of a forester can be an invaluable asset as landowners work toward improving their forest. However, there oftentimes is confusion about who qualifies as a forester and how he or she fits into land management.

It is the role of a professional forester to maintain the balance between human needs and desires, and our forests’ ability to sustain these “services.” A forester not only sees the need to build a house but also incorporates science and biology to help understand how the landscape will respond to the removal of needed resources.

More than a hundred years ago, at a time when our forests were being harvested with little regard for the future, a father asked his boy, “How would you like to be a forester?” The boy, Gifford Pinchot, who later became one of the first (and most notable) professional foresters in the United States, later remarked, “I had no more conception of what it meant to be a forester than the man in the moon…. But at least a forester worked in the woods and with the woods—and I loved the woods and everything about them….” (Reference:

Among his many accomplishments, Pinchot was instrumental in forming the Forest Service and urging President Teddy Roosevelt to protect and manage forests for future generations. He also worked to help define forestry as “The greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.”

Since Pinchot’s time, the forestry profession has become more specialized and diverse. Today’s foresters—university extension foresters, consulting foresters, state and federal foresters, urban foresters, industrial foresters, research foresters, etc.—fill many different roles and play an important part in determining how our forests are managed while working for the “greatest good.”

Although this diversity strengthens the profession, it can also lead to confusion as to who is, or is not, a forester. In essence, a forester is an individual who has obtained a four-year degree in natural resource management and works in the forestry field. Two professional organizations, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF), provide competency and credentialing standards for foresters. The main difference between the two lies in how specific the certification is. The SAF offers its members a Certified Forester (CF) designation, which is open to all types of professional foresters, whereas the ACF offers its credentialing system specifically to Consulting Foresters (those foresters available to assist private forests owners on a fee basis). You can get more information on these two organizations and a list of qualified foresters in your area by visiting their respective websites at or

Regarding consulting foresters (like Inland Forest Management, Inc); they play a unique role in that they focus strictly on the welfare of the forest landowner. These foresters avoid conflicts of interests, such as buying logs or logging, and adhere to a stringent Code of Ethics.

Obviously defining what, or more importantly, who a forester is goes beyond training and experience. It is ultimately defined by the resource. In the famous words of Aldo Leopold, another leader in the field of forestry, “Conservation is a state of harmony between land and man.” It is a forester’s duty to help preserve this harmony.

Examples of Duties Performed by a Professional Forester:

  • Preparing forest management plans
  • Monitoring and assessing forest health, and developing management strategies for protecting the forest from insects, disease, and wildfire
  • Preparing and maintaining inventories of forest resources
  • Measuring and appraising timber volume
  • Preparing harvest plans
  • Marketing forest products
  • Managing wildlife habitat
  • Analyzing wildfire hazard
  • Participating on teams with other natural resource professionals in the development and preparation of environmental assessments, environmental impact reports, and environmental impact statements.
  • Providing expert testimony during litigation
  • Managing community watersheds for water and timber production
  • Educational assistance to forest landowners

(This article is also appearing in the Inland Northwest Land Trust newsletter

Reducing Fire Hazard

IFM has been recently awarded a contract with Kootenai County to serve as Project Manager for the county’s FireSmart Program. IFM already manages similar programs in Boundary and Benewah Counties, and additional efforts are taking place in other Inland Northwest counties.

These efforts involve using federal dollars to reduce hazardous forest fuels around subdivisions and other developments, and improving escape corridors. The goal of the programs is to provide landowners with better defensible space and access in the event of a wildfire. Specific tasks associated with the projects generally involve removing brush, thinning and pruning trees, and disposing of slash (forest debris). This work is usually accomplished at little to no cost to the landowner.

Steve Bloedel and Don Gunter are the IFM project managers for these grants. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact our office.

Carbon Market

There is keen forest landowner interest in the subject of carbon trading and sequestration. In fact, this topic has almost eclipsed the terrible log market as the most common conversation theme among forest owners!

This is a confusing subject, which is further complicated by the wide range of organizations and evolving standards determining the future of this commodity. To better understand how the carbon trading world relates to forest owners, let’s answer a few common questions:

What is forest carbon trading?

In a nutshell, trees take carbon (carbon dioxide) out of the air and store it as wood fiber, while factories and other entities, put carbon into the air during manufacturing processes. Next, carbon producers are pressured by the government and a heightened public consciousness to reduce emissions by either lowering discharges at the factory or, in lieu of that, paying forest owners to keep carbon stored (sequestered) in trees. The end result is that producers purchase carbon credits from forest owners because it is cheaper than making the required factory improvements to reduce emissions. To encourage this effort, the government is considering cap and trade legislation to establish incentives for this market-driven system.

What’s required for a landowner to get involved with carbon trading?

Other requirements also apply, but the key elements are: 1) A property must have a forest management plan in place and be certified for sustainable forest management by a group such as the American Tree Farm System. 2) A thorough baseline inventory (wood volume, growth projection, etc.) must be conducted to determine the amount of carbon stored within the forest now and into the future. 3) Landowners must be willing to maintain a certified forest for a set period of time. Fifteen years is fairly common, but the time frame may vary up to 100 years.

How is the value of carbon determined and traded?

Currently there is only one formal trading platform in the U.S., the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), which conducts transactions in metric tons. There are also informal “Over the Counter” trading opportunities. Like other commodities, the value of a ton of carbon is determined by supply and demand. And since cap and trade legislation would greatly increase demand, it is assumed the value of carbon would correspondingly rise if Congress were to pass such legislation.

What are carbon credits worth?

Within the last few years carbon traded at a high of more than $7/metric ton, but the value of carbon traded on the CCX has dropped dramatically to its current level of just $.25/metric ton. That huge fall makes the plunge in sawlog prices look minor in comparison! Also, the current trading system allows carbon traders to accumulate credits which, like stocks or bonds, can be held and sold in the future, hopefully at a higher rate.

How much money can a landowner make?

That’s the wild card! Again, like the stock market, a host of variables influence the net return to landowners. With present CCX prices, selling on the exchange makes no sense and “over-the-counter” sales have their own special challenges. But let’s speculate on a possible Inland Northwest carbon sale scenario. Say a landowner sells 2 ton/acre of carbon sequestration valued at $2/metric ton (net return). The landowner would then receive $4/acre ($2 times 2 ton) per year.

Until this muddy subject has been clarified—numerous organizations are involved in determining standards (some have likened it to a “tug-of-war”), everybody is waiting to see what happens with proposed cap and trade legislation, and carbon values are very shaky—it appears premature to jump into the carbon market now.

Editor’s note: This is a brief overview of a very complex subject. IFM will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed. If the time is right for you to actively pursue carbon trading opportunities, we will be here to serve your needs.
— M. Wolcott

Vanishing Sawmills

As is so true in today’s world, what once was is no more. At one time the Inland Northwest was blessed with a wide diversity of sawmills and keen competition for landowner logs. When IFM was created 25 years ago, 25 major sawmills dotted the landscape in Idaho’s five northern counties; today there are 12. Furthermore, mill ownership has been consolidated from a total of 15 owners in 1984 to just seven today. And only three of the seven typically buy and process mixed species such as Douglas-fir, larch, grand fir and western hemlock.

Consequently, landowners have less opportunity to reap the rewards of competition, and it is more likely that they’ll have to haul their logs further. Unfortunately, neither development puts more money in a forest owner’s pocket.

In addition to dwindling competition, we have witnessed many other trends during the last 25 years; i.e., better tree utilization, less value for large logs, increased log sorting, and improved sawmill efficiency.

At one time, logs with less than a 12 inch top were considered worthless. Eventually the standard worked its way down to a 6 inch small-end diameter. Now sawlogs are marketable down to 4.5 inches and pulp specifications go to 2.5 inches. Big logs were once a premium product, but now logs with more than a 27 inch butt are oftentimes worth half the value of smaller logs.

Mill specialization is another development and is reflected in the prices paid by each mill for various species and log sizes. This change has created the need for more effective log marketing and sorting to assure that logs are sent to the mill that pays top dollar.
Although many of the changes within our local wood products industry are not what forest owners would wish for, we do have reason to be thankful. In spite of the current challenging economic climate, the Inland Northwest has a viable forest products industry. Large expanses of Oregon and Montana have lost all their mills, making transportation from these areas to distant mills cost prohibitive. Also, because the surviving mills in our area are very efficient and productive, they have improved their ability to compete in a global marketplace and to provide long-term markets for landowners.

Twenty-five years of changes – sawmills gone; really small logs are a hot item; nobody wants big logs; lightening-fast, laser-guided sawmills – who would have ever guessed? What can we expect next? Only time will tell.


Map – Table

The map above and the table below identify North Idaho sawmills that existed in 1984 and those that are still working today. For reasons of limited space, we only address the five northern counties in Idaho; however, the remainder of our operating area (eastern Washington and western Montana) has experienced the same trend. Also, we did not include pulp, chipwood, special-product and smaller, family sawmill operations.

Major Sawmills

Operating in 1984;
now closed


Idaho Forest Group



(formerly Riley Cr.) – Moyie Springs



Crown Pacific – Bonners Ferry



Welco – Naples



Ceda-Pine Veneer – Samuels



Crown Pacific – Colburn



Arrow Tie – Sandpoint



Idaho Forest Group – Laclede



Louisiana-Pacific – Priest River



Stimson – Priest River



JD Lumber – Priest River



Crown Pacific – Albeni Falls



Idaho Forest Group – Chilco



Stimson (Atlas) – Coeur d’Alene



Stimson (DeArmond) – Coeur d’Alene



Potlatch (Rutledge) – Coeur d’Alene



WI Forest Products – Coeur d’Alene



Crown Pacific (Huetter) – Coeur d’Alene



Louisiana-Pacific – Post Falls



Idaho Veneer – Post Falls



Whiteman – Kingston



Malloy – Kingston



Stimson– Plummer



Edwards – St. Maries



Stimson (Regulus) – St. Maries



Potlatch – St. Maries



Most of the operating mills are working reduced shifts or are temporarily shut down due to market conditions. Whiteman is presently rebuilding following a fire in January. Furthermore, many of the operating mills have changed owners over the years, some of them multiple times.

Bucking a Trend Through a Passion for Growing Trees

There is bad news and good news for private forestland in the United States.

Sixty percent of all the forestland in the United States is privately owned. But, according to a 2005 USDA Forest Service Report, Forests on the Edge: Housing Development on America’s Private Forests, conversion of private forestland into developed uses reached one million acres per year in the 1990’s, and by 2050, prognosticators predict that more than 11%, or another 44.2 million acres, will be consumed by development. The negative impacts of this trend include reduced production of timber and forest products as well as a loss of outdoor recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat.

Thankfully, there are a few shining stars like Al and Caroline Farnsworth, owners of Xmas Hills Limited Partnership tree farm, who resist the temptation to make a “fast buck” with land development and focus, instead, on growing trees.

Al and Caroline’s passion for growing trees and their love of land took root 47 years ago when they purchased their first parcel near Moyie Springs, Idaho, in 1961. Over the years their tree farm enterprise has grown to seven separate properties encompassing about 4,000 acres.

In 1964 a captivating 1,000-acre forest situated on a gently rolling terrace overlooking St. Maries, Idaho, was added to the Xmas Hill portfolio. Recognizing the potential recreational value of this forest, the State of Idaho purchased a recreational lease in 1977 to allow public use for hiking, off-road motorcycling and snowmobiling. Success was immediate! As it is now known, the Xmas Hills Recreation Area proved so popular that the original 25-year lease was renewed for another term in 2002. Additionally, it was on this property where the Farnsworths chose to receive the 1985 Western Region Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award presented by Senator Larry Craig.

Recently the Farnsworths purchased another 360 acres of forestland adjacent to the Recreation Area. This parcel is ripe for development – close to town with breathtaking views of St. Maries and the St. Joe River Valley – but even after paying “development land” prices, the Farnsworths have decided to dedicate this parcel to managed forestland. Certainly not a decision that “pencils-out” financially, but one that gives the Farnsworths priceless pleasure from seeing land growing trees, not houses.

Though the newly acquired 360-acre parcel has a spectacular setting, it presents many forest management challenges. Prior to purchase, the property had been heavily harvested resulting in a thin stand of trees, which became damaged by subsequent windstorms. Many of the “leave” trees were blown down or broken-off. Salvage efforts by the previous owner recovered much, but not all, of the damaged timber. So with the help of Inland Forest Management, Inc., and Scheirmeister Logging, the Farnsworths initiated a harvest operation to salvage the value of the remaining damaged trees and to begin making way for a young, vigorous forest.

But removing the damaged overstory is only part of the rehabilitation process for this forest. New trees are needed, but competing vegetation, such as dense brush and grass, would likely doom reforestation efforts without proper site preparation. Fortunately, the Farnsworths were able to secure cost-share funding from the Forest Land Enhancement Program and professional assistance from the Wilbur Ellis Company and Inland Forest Management, Inc., to apply herbicides on 137 acres. The spraying was completed last summer, so next spring approximately 26,000 western larch, ponderosa pine and western white pine will be planted in the treated areas.

The Farnsworths are firm believers in good forest stewardship and continue to remain actively involved in many other projects throughout their tree farm including access development, precommercial thinning, fertilization (They’ve personally spread fertilizer by hand over many acres!), site preparation and tree planting. In addition to completing many tasks, including visiting their tree farm regularly, maintaining an irrigation system on a forested property near Bonners Ferry and salvage logging, they believe that communication, cooperation and a positive attitude are keys to successful forest management. For example, Al personally takes time to visit neighbors and correspond with hand-written notes on a regular basis.

From the immense benefits that the Xmas Hills Recreation Area provides the community of St. Maries, to allowing hunters (who ask permission) to hunt on property near Bonners Ferry, the Farnsworths relish knowing that other people are benefiting from their managed land. They only ask that people respect this privilege and use the resource wisely.

Through their far-sighted commitment to forest stewardship and opened-hearted approach of allowing others to enjoy their land, Al and Caroline have helped stem-the-tide of development, while providing a wonderful forested environment for all to enjoy. We, as well as future generations, thank them.

Al Farnsworth and a view of St. Maries from the new addition to Xmas Hills Recreation Area.