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“Great Outdoors Giveaway?” ID Outdoor Industry Protests

July 26, 2011

BOISE, Idaho - A land giveaway the size of Wyoming. That's how opponents of a bill being heard in a U.S. House committee today characterize the "Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act." Supporters contend opening nine million acres of protected U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands to development in Idaho, and 60 million acres nationwide, will lead to jobs and new energy products.

Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association, is testifying, and he takes issue with "job creation" claim. He contends there's been no consideration of how development in pristine areas affects other industries that also use the land.

"It's harmful legislation that makes a sweeping decision on all wilderness study areas and roadless areas without a full understanding of the consequences on communities and industries, like the outdoor industry."

Backers of the bill say too much public land is tied up with protections, but Hugelmeyer says protections actually ensure balance for multiple uses of the land and that developers already have access to 76 percent of all National Forest and BLM lands.

"Today, protected lands support our entrepreneurial-led and dynamic economic engine, and it must be given equal consideration to extractive industries."

Hugelmeyer says his group, and other conservation and sportsmen's groups, consider the bill so egregious, they've dubbed it the "Great Outdoors Giveaway."

H.R. 1581 will be heard in the House Natural Resources Committee.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID