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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to congress. Also on our rundown: more evidence that the rent is too, damn, high; Marathon County braces for sulfide mining; and the focus on recycling this weekend for Earth Day in North Dakota.

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Taking a Stand on Federal Lands

PHOTO: Another round of public hearings is scheduled this week about Idaho's proposal to demand that the federal government turn land over to Idaho. Photo of Boise National Forest courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.
PHOTO: Another round of public hearings is scheduled this week about Idaho's proposal to demand that the federal government turn land over to Idaho. Photo of Boise National Forest courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.
October 8, 2014

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Idaho's demand that the federal government turn over public lands to the state is up for debate in a series of hearings Thursday and Friday in Idaho Falls, Soda Springs, Twin Falls, and Hailey. Courtney Washburn, community conservation director with the Idaho Conservation League, which is against the transfer, says it's a complicated issue that involves a lot of emotions and what could be a long-running court action with no guarantee of success. But she also thinks those testifying will have valid points about how public lands affect communities.

"The conversation that would be more productive would be, what can we do to improve the management of federal lands, both from the environmental side and from the local economic side," Washburn says.

Idaho is one of eight states that have proposed attempting to take over public lands. Montana recently dropped its push because of public input and an assessment that the legal strategy would be costly and would likely fail. Idahoans can testify in person, or submit written testimony to the Federal Lands Interim Committee. Hearings have been held around the state.

Washburn says there are projects underway to form partnerships between local residents, businesses and agencies to design land management that carries a wide range of benefits.

"We have at least seven efforts underway to create jobs, restore watersheds and habitat," says Washburn. "But it doesn't help when an effort to take over federal lands is happening at the same time."

One of the big concerns is the cost to the state for assuming ownership of the land, a total of around 28 million acres. Washburn says her group's assessment shows a $240 million loss for the state in the first year. Another assessment from Idaho Department of Lands predicted profits of up to $75 million a year, mainly through timber sales.

Hearing schedule: Idaho Falls, Oct. 9, 9 a.m. at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, 995 University Blvd.; Soda Springs, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 9 West 2nd South; Twin Falls, Oct. 10, 9 a.m., at the College of Southern Idaho Herrett Center, 315 Falls Ave; Hailey, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m., at Wood River High School, 1050 Fox Acres Rd.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID