At Bear Lake, shutdown halts Idaho timber sale
Boise, Idaho • An Idaho sawmill says it's being booted off a logging project on federal land because of the ongoing government shutdown.
Brad Jensen of Jensen Lumber Co., in southeastern Idaho's Bear Lake County, says his crews were ordered off a timber sale by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Idaho Statesman reports the beetle-killed timber in the Caribou-Targhee National Forests must be harvested this year.
If he can't get the wood to his sawmill, Jensen says, it will put him out of business.
"We have to get the logs in or we can't get through the season," said Jensen.
U.S. House Republicans are seeking to use the budget impasse to block the federal health care law, while President Barack Obama says he's not going to allow them to use the government-funding standoff as a bargaining chip in their quest to repeal his Affordable Care Act, a now-three-year-old law that's survived U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny.
Jensen, a Republican county commissioner in Bear Lake County, isn't a fan of "Obamacare."
Still, he says if it comes down to his business closing he'd rather GOP lawmakers relent and agree to a deal with the president.
"I've got to tell you I'm not in favor of" the Affordable Care Act, he said. "I don't know that it's going to work, but it's the law."
Meanwhile, state officials blamed Obama for shuttering agencies such as the Forest Service and the National Parks Service in a bid to exert pressure on Congress to give in and pass a stopgap government funding measure.
"With the stop in federal timber sales and harvest, everyone loses the last sawmill in southwestern 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," said Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a Republican.
Jensen doesn't blame local Forest Service workers because he knows they are only doing their job. He blames House Republicans and the Obama administration.
"We're being punished," he said. "We're the whipping boy."