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
Investing in a Strategic
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.