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Presidential Candidates Urged: 'Keep Public Lands in Public Hands'

Outdoor recreation contributes more than $6 billion in consumer spending to Idaho's economy. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
Outdoor recreation contributes more than $6 billion in consumer spending to Idaho's economy. (Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management)
September 9, 2016

BOISE, Idaho – Sportsmen, wildlife and environmental groups from states around the country, including Idaho, have a request for those running for the White House: Keep public lands in public hands.

Forty organizations released a letter this week asking the presidential hopefuls to commit to protecting federal public lands for future generations.

Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, which has signed onto the letter, said public lands provide Idahoans a place to pursue their most cherished hobbies.

"Hunting and fishing is woven into the tapestry of the Idaho way of life and that tapestry wouldn't exist without our access to impeccable public lands," he said.

Outdoor recreation contributes more than $6 billion to Idaho's economy, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Proponents for transferring public lands to states point to poor federal management.

The State Forest Management Act, which would allow states to take over up to 2 million acres of national forest land, has cleared committee and could be heard by the U.S. House of Representatives this session. Brooks opposes the potential transfer, saying politicians are sabotaging public lands by neglecting to invest in them.

"The same politicians that are vilifying the federal land management agencies are the same politicians who are gutting their budget to perform their jobs well," he added.

The federal government owns more than 32 million acres of land in Idaho, or about 60 percent of the state.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID