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PNS Daily Newscast - Friday, August 23, 2019 


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'Local Control' of Public Lands Already Happening

Forest restoration collaborations are taking place at more than two dozen sites around Idaho. Local stakeholders help the U.S. Forest Service decide about timber harvest, recreation and wildlife habitat. Credit: Rainbow Lake region in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests by Mike Hayes.
Forest restoration collaborations are taking place at more than two dozen sites around Idaho. Local stakeholders help the U.S. Forest Service decide about timber harvest, recreation and wildlife habitat. Credit: Rainbow Lake region in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests by Mike Hayes.
April 29, 2015

BOISE, Idaho - Transferring control of public lands has been a hot-button topic throughout the West - and recently in Congress. Legislation seeking state control of federal public lands didn't succeed in Idaho this year, but it's expected bills will surface again.

Holly Endersby, Idaho chapter representative for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said the public needs to know that a form of local control already is at play through collaborations for forest restoration. More than two dozen are designing, planning and carrying out timber harvests and other projects, while keeping public access open for recreation and preserving wildlife habitat.

"We work hand-in-hand with the Forest Service," she said, "and we've just seen a remarkable amount of success and money flowing to the Nez (Perce)-Clearwater."

Proposals to transfer public lands threaten the progress and benefits achieved through collaborations, Endersby said, adding that she would like to see more legislative focus on supporting the local efforts to restore forests.

Brad Brooks, associate director at The Wilderness Society, said poll after poll shows bipartisan support for keeping public lands in public hands so they can be accessed for hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking and ATV-ing. He said he wants to see sharp questioning of lawmakers as to why legislation keeps popping up.

"State management, transfer, call it what you want, it's all part of the same goal and effort," he said, "and that is to take public land away from the public for the use and benefit of a very narrow set of interests."

Idaho's U.S. senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, recently voted in favor of a nonbinding budget resolution, SA 838, that would allow for the sale of public lands to private interests. The resolution is online at congress.gov. A map of forest collaborations in Idaho is at idahoforestpartners.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - ID