Idaho legislators need to go out, enjoy the outdoors on public lands, and smell the wild roses.
State lawmakers are looking at passing legislation to transfer control of federal public lands in Idaho to the state. The state can't even take care of its state parks. The governor and the legislature severely cut funding to state parks several years ago.
What's the motive behind the takeover? It's anyone's guess. Sell off public lands to the highest bidder? Clear cut forests, strip mine mountains and overgraze grasslands for a one-time profit that leaves public lands in shambles?
Idaho has 33 million acres of federally managed lands and as a hunter, angler and camper, I don't want the beauty, recreational value and environmental quality of these lands compromised. Hunters, anglers and other recreationists need to speak up and tell Idaho legislators to leave federal public lands alone.
Idaho legislators, being led by House Resources and Conservation Committee Chairman Lawerence Denney, are out of touch. They need a reality check.
Conservationists and outdoor folks need to stop this legislation. The Idaho Conservation League offered some stats from a recent poll on the value of public lands:
- 76 percent of Idahoans agree that "one of the things our federal government does well is protect and preserve our national heritage through the management of forests, national parks and other public lands."
- 87 percent of Idahoans are "satisfied with the quality and quantity of outdoor recreational opportunities in Idaho."
- 97 percent of Idahoans agree that "our public lands, including forests, national parks, monuments and wildlife areas are an essential part of Idaho's quality of life.
If Idahoans don't stand up for their federal public lands, they may soon find no trespassing signs at the favorite hiking, camping and hunting grounds.
Snow-covered Boise Mountains in the Boise National Forest - federal public lands. Photo by Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman