Monday, January 21, 2013

Idaho may be next state for lands fight with feds

Idaho may be the next Western state to pick a public lands fight with the federal government for control of millions of acres of forest, rangeland and mineral deposits within its borders. Idaho lawmakers, motivated by the potential for new revenue and the appeal of having more authority over how those lands are managed, are gearing up to follow the lead taken by Utah and Arizona in 2012. Last year, Utah and Arizona approved measures demanding the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies. Utah's bill became law when it was signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, while Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill. "This is about economic self-reliance," Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory told a joint meeting Monday of the House Resources and Conservation Committee and Senate Resources and Environment Committee. Ivory, a lawyer and Republican from suburban Salt Lake City, led the charge for the bill in Utah, making the case that language in statehood documents dating back to the 1800s contain a constitutional provision that the federal government intended to relinquish control of the land it held in each state. But for some states, especially those in the West, the federal government reneged, Ivory says. He challenged Idaho lawmakers to compare fates with North Dakota. Both became states nine months apart and, Ivory claims, did so under identical statehood language. Yet, federally managed land in North Dakota accounts for less than 5 percent of the state's overall acreage. "The federal government has not been disposing of those federal lands as it promised to do," he said. The Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act pushes the issue, setting a 2014 deadline for the federal government to hand over more than 20 million acres scattered across the state. The law exempts national parks and monuments, tribal reservations, military installations and congressionally approved wilderness areas and calls for using revenue gleaned from state-sanctioned land sales and royalties from logging and mining to be used for schools and repaying the federal deficit...more

No comments: