Legislative Committee on Land Transfer

Last night, Sept. 11th, the community in and around Benewah County came to give testimony to our legislators concerning the state management of federal lands within Idaho. About 100 people were in attendance at the Elks Lodge at 6:30pm. After introductions, they gave an over view of what the committee had already done for 2 years. They have done fact finding and listened to the testimony from professors, lawyers, and experts for both sides of the issue. This summer, they have come to the public to know exactly how we feel about the federal government vs. the state controlling the land.

About 15 people gave public testimony, some turned in written statements, and some spoke and turned in written testimony. All but two individuals stated that they felt the federal and state constitution were in our favor for gaining possession of the land, that the federal management has only harmed the forests and taken away public access while state control has done much better, and that it would bring jobs for economic improvement. The other two individuals who gave testimony stated that the constitutions are not in our favor and that it would be better to work with the forest service than try to take claim of federal lands.

After testimony was given, the legislators were asked how public testimony stands against professors and professionals? Does it matter what the public says or has their decision already been made? The questions were prompted because of what was stated in the paper about it not appearing profitable to take over the lands and the feelings of individuals who chose not to come because they felt that the legislators would not listen to them and take the land. The legislators responded that if it was not important to hear from the people that they would not have come to our community. They said that they felt the people living with the current system and impacted by the legislation carried more weight than a professor’s testimony.

For Idaho’s sake, I am hoping and praying that Idaho will do what is right for our land and our children and claim the land that is within our boarder as Idaho land. Who can manage our land better than those who want their children and grandchildren to enjoy the same forests and grasslands today and in the future. No one is more sustainable than foresters, farmers, ranchers, and miners. If we use up the resources without renewing them, then we effectively work ourselves out of a job. As with any new business venture, it does take capitol to start up but the end result of sustainable forests for our economy and for future generations is worth all the money and effort. Do yourself and others a favor and do the research on claiming the federal lands. It has been done before and the Supreme Court has already said that Congress cannot void contracts that created the states. We just cannot give up. We can do this if citizens and states stand together.

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