Inland Empire Paper Company - Forestry

 

Forestry

The Forestry Department at Inland Empire Paper Company  manages 116,000 acres of company owned timberland in northeastern Washington and northern Idaho. The IEP forestry mission is to produce a continuous supply of high quality saw logs to area sawmills while securing a stable wood fiber supply for the paper mill.

A Healthy Practice Since 1952

Forestry began at IEP in 1952 when the company began acquiring forestland. This was necessary in order to secure a fiber supply for the paper mill. At that time, the mill used whole logs and converted them, using grinders, into pulp for paper manufacture. Although the land had little salable timber at the time, the early foresters realized the potential for a long-term forestry enterprise. They went to work locating the land, planting trees, building access roads, and making investments that might pay in the long run.

IEP was one of the first companies in the Inland Northwest to artificially regenerate large acreages of forestland. Few foresters had prior experience with tree planting as so much of the early planting was experimental. During the 1960’s, IEP foresters perfected a planting system and established trees on thousands of acres of idle land. During that period, most people considered it risky to plant trees for future harvest. Wood had little value. The threat of fire was a constant hazard. Survival of the planted trees was dubious. Young plantations could be eaten by hungry animals, destroyed by drought, damaged by weather events, or decimated by insects and diseases.

Today, more than 50 years later, we are beginning to realize the wisdom and foresight of the early IEP foresters. The long wait is nearly over as we begin reaping the dividends from these early forestry decisions.

Investing in a Strategic Resource

As technology changed with the times, IEP converted the pulp mill to a refined grounded process, which can use the waste chips from lumber manufactures. During that time, the goals of the Forestry Department also changed. Rather than a backup fiber supply, we now manage the forests as a strategic resource, used to enhance our position to purchase chips from the sawmills.

Technology and increased demand for wood has also enabled us to modernize the forest management program. Since the late 1970’s we have continuously collected data for the forest inventory and developed a silvicultural program for timber harvest and regeneration. We have also increased tree growing investments to include precommercial thinning, vegetation control, improved site preparation, artificial pruning, and forest nutrition.

IEP lands are currently located in nine geographic units that extend from St. Maries, Idaho in the south to Northport, Washington to the north. The largest contiguous block is in the Mt. Spokane, Twin Lakes, and Spirit Lake area consisting of nearly 60,000 acres. Since this area is close to Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, it is used year-round by the public for recreation.

Managing for the Future

The long-term stability of the company enhances our ability to manage a long-term resource. The next 50 years is unknown, but we believe that people will continue to desire the renewable resources provided by the forest: high quality wood products, clean and abundant water, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities.