Lawmakers ignore collaboration in public land discussion

The disconnect in public land policy in Idaho was on display last week.

The Idaho Legislature held a well-attended joint Senate and House resource meeting to hear Utah lawmaker Ken Ivory make the case for western states to demand the federal government turnover the vast federal public land base. He held out the potential for the states to gain access to the mineral wealth beneath them and to dramatically increase the harvest of timber and other above-ground resources.

Meanwhile across town a band of foresters, timber company executives, conservationists and local officials met to talk about the expanding collaborative movement that has slowly started to increase the timber harvest on national forests. The Clearwater Collaborative alone has increased the harvest on the Clearwater National Forest to 80 million board feet with strong support from environmental groups like the Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League.

At the Forest Partner’s Road to Restoration conference the refugees from the early 1990s forest wars and a new generation shared lessons learned from collaborative efforts popping up all across the state. They were talking about how to integrate road management in forest restoration and how new Forest Service rules can help them.

These efforts are putting people back to work in forest communities and building trust among local officials and conservation groups who already have developed deep ties with the forest industry.

The only thing that was missing was the Idaho Legislature. It has committed itself to consider legislation that follows Utah’s example.

Ivory failed to explain why western states have not demanded the federal land be turned over before now. He did not read Section 12 of Idaho’s Admission Act:

“The State of Idaho shall not be entitled to any further or other grants of land for any purpose than as expressly provided in this act.”

Even though the Idaho Legislature was missing from the collaborative groups’ meetings, Northern Regional Forester Faye Krueger did meet with Gov. Butch Otter to report on the progress of the federal, state and local officials collaborative efforts.

Otter can point proudly to the 340 million board feet of timber that came off of state lands in 2012, one third of the state’s 1 billion board feet of timber harvested as the national housing economy remained depressed. The federal harvest was only 13 percent but it was up 30 percent from 2010.

The success of the collaboratives, in national forests throughout the state is growing the timber sales at a time when the economy can sustain it. And programs widely supported by environmentalists, such as cellulosic biofuel production from wood waste could provide a market for even more.

For environmentalists, some of their comfort comes from the roadless protections that came from another the collaborative Idaho Roadless Plan. Idaho lawmakers applauded it when Otter announced its successful court defense in his State of the .State address.

People on both sides of the debate need to look at the two approaches to federal land management to determine where they think they can best spend their time. I think most conservation groups, sporting groups, and strong majority of Idahoans will decide to spend a lot of time fighting the Utah approach.

Idaho's Republican congressional delegation, led by Sen. Mike Crapo, has put its time and energy behind the collaborative movement.

The question is how much time will lawmakers devote to the Utah approach or to the collaborative programs that are creating jobs and increasing the state timber harvest right now.

Same Old BS

"...Ken Ivory make the case for western states to demand a return of the vast federal public land base."

These public lands never did belong to the states: they preexisted the states. How can you return to states something the never owned?

New rule: the reactionary right has to tell the truth. Yeah right.

Word choices!

So right- "How can you return to states something the never owned?" Anyone talking about this initiative, anyone reporting on this initiative, needs to pay attend to that word, "return." That's part of truth-telling, too. As much as we complain about big money pushing public opinion around, the news writers and pundits are still identifying the issues and how we talk about them. So it should be ...Ken Ivory make the case for western states to >demand a gift of land < from the feds? Already Idaho gets an annual "gift" from the federal government of a 60+ cents on every federal tax dollar paid. I wonder if there is any attempt at an "economic impact statement" in regards to the Utah approach, in Idaho. While we are counting on the positive economic ripples that all those federal jobs and spending creates in the state, let's not forget how those public lands are key to the success of the outdoor recreation industry in the state.


I fixed it.

Timber, Schimber. Ain't no paper production or house building...

gonna matter, not even if you cut every tree down and dug up the roots.


People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Idaho Legislature motto:

"If it ain't broke, try harder."

Public Lands Best Managed by the Feds

There is not a better way to manage BLM lands than the ways in which they're managed now. Idaho is only one example, but others abound, of what could happen if these precious resources are turned over to the states to manage. There is a tremendous amount of pressure from greedy interests to get their little fingers on the resources that exist within the lands - resources that although valuable, are not as valuable as nature itself. If Idaho's public lands were to be managed by our state government you had better believe that mineral mines would start popping up everywhere, stripping of forests would ensure, and watersheds would be destroyed. Businesses have a very difficult time caring about the lands, flora and fauna because there is no profits to be had in expenditures to protect mother nature. That is exactly why the EPA is such an important entity in our country. No, Idaho's government (the GOP) only has one reason - only one - to open more Federal lands... To eek out more money for the wealthy. If states like Idaho want to have more opportunities to get resources from the lands then they should come up with plans to rehabilitate the lands and waters, in very reasonable ways and rapidity, before they are allowed to proceed.


Eek out more money for the wealthy?

Ask the middle income people in Custer County about that? i.e. the ones actually working in the mine.


You have no evidence of what you are writing Brahma.


Plant commercial hemp. Leave the forests alone.

Is it just me?

Am I alone in being scared to death when our legislature is in session?
What new way will they find to further erode public trust and well-being?
How 'bout;
-transfer some taxes from business to our way-too wealthy population
-recycle the Luna laws
-sue the feds over federal land to sell it off
-find new ways to further lower public education quality
-bust some more unions, wages in Idaho are way to high.
Egads, Charlie Brown!!!!!!!!!!

The subject is beside the point

All this talk about harvesting more timber is probably a waste of time. Most of the pine trees in Idaho and surrounding states are now dead from the pine bark beetle. Yes some can be salvaged, but most is going to just fall over or burn before they can get to it. It doesn't matter who is managing the land either. Climate permitting, new trees might replace the dead forests. We will have to see. From my experience I'd guess that half of central Idaho has burned in the last 20 years.

The same is true in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and north of the border.

Stop Whining.

If you are tired of these ranny culls in office, the Democratic Party of this state needs to come up with better candidates.


Remember Keith Allred? Probably the best governor candidate since Cecil Andrus? But you voted for mediocre Butch anyway. It doesn't matter who the dems run, the robots will still vote the same ignorant way--R--R--R. Maybe you could at least consider alternatives in your closed primary.

Thats Bull


Smoke and Mirrors

They say timber and minerals. They mean grazing.

Cervantes would be proud

To see Don Quixote going off to battle his imaginary giants which are actually windmills.

Is the Legislature going to hire a lawyer to issue a favorable opinion? Will they again ignore the AG's opinion or even ask for one?

There are several precedents in which they have ignored the State and US Constitution as well as laws. Why stop now?


Wouldn't it be great if the Legislature were held accountable enacting laws that are later overturned by the court? Maybe the legislature salary fund should pay the legal costs for defending those laws?