Thursday, April 04, 2013

Idaho Senate passes federal lands transfer resolution

Idaho wants its land back, lawmakers in the Idaho Senate said Tuesday before passing a resolution that asks Congress to transfer title for federally owned lands within Idaho’s borders to the state government. The resolution, known as House Concurrent Resolution 22, was passed by the Idaho House on March 21. It passed 55-13 in the House and 21-13 in the Senate. The resolution has no legal effect. Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, argued Tuesday that he believes the federal government would simply ignore it. Supporters in the state Senate on Tuesday cited breaches of promises and mismanagement of lands by the federal government. The resolution would apply to about 16 million acres of public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Wilderness lands, national defense areas and the Idaho National Laboratory would not be included in the transfer. Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, said in introducing the bill that the United States had promised Idaho at the time of statehood that the federal government would sell any land it held and would give 5 percent of the proceeds to the state. The resolution states that Idaho ceded its unappropriated lands to the federal government with that understanding—which, Siddoway said, has now been breached. He said that in addition, the federal government has been mismanaging public lands. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, argued during debate over the resolution that she believes that mismanagement by the federal government had led to larger, more damaging wildfires. Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, further argued that forests have been wasted under federal management, left to be “eaten by bugs”—a reference to the mountain pine beetles that are killing trees on Idaho’s national forests. He argued that this mismanagement has left lands vulnerable to large wildfires, which he said damage homes, property and the lungs of Idaho residents. Hagedorn argued that allowing the state to control these lands and increase timber production would reduce wildfire and timber waste while boosting the state’s economy. “If we were to get some of those acres of timber … and utilize that biomass that is going to waste, we could generate jobs and electricity that we could then sell out of state,” he said. “There are some good reasons why we should do this, and putting people back to work is a great reason.” Other senators argued that the bill was “premature,” and should be held until a study group to investigate the issue had convened, following a measure approved earlier Tuesday by the Senate...more

Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, had this beautiful quote:

“Senators, the only reason you want title to a land is to sell it,” Stennett said. “And I don’t think Idaho should be for sale.” 

In other words, she'd prefer envirocrats in DC determine the use of the land, rather than private citizens in Idaho.

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