Idaho forest resembles checkerboard from space

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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NASA captures an image showing a giant checkerboard pattern in the forests of Idaho.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured an interesting image of the terrain in northern Idaho.

What appears to be a giant checkerboard pattern is really patches of deforested ground or forest management, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

According to NASA, the white squares show where snow had fallen on deforested ground, while the dark areas show dense forest.

This type of pattern originated in the 1800s when the U.S. government granted alternating one-square mile parcels of land the Northern Pacific Railway. They were later sold off, mainly to logging companies for harvesting timber. These patches of land were eventually sized down to quarter-square mile parcels to help sustain the forest, while allowing the logging companies to continue.

Also seen in this photo is the Priest River which was originally used to transport timber from these logging locations. In 1968, the U.S. government declared this river as a “wild and scenic river,” protecting it from further development.

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