You know that your public lands are absolute treasures. You also know that they belong to all Americans. What you may not know is that our national forests, national monuments and Bureau of Land Management lands have never been more squarely in the crosshairs. Some politicians and well-heeled special interests continue trying to seize and control these lands … our lands. We can’t let that happen!
Some Politicians Support Public Lands
The good news is that some politicians support “keeping public lands in public hands.” For example, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter opposed a state takeover of public lands in his 2017 State of the State address, explaining that Idaho could not cover the increasing costs of wildfire suppression without raising taxes or selling off public lands. Which option do you think the Idaho Legislature would choose? His press secretary recently said, “If the feds weren’t there to pay for it … you’d blow a huge hole in the state budget.”
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has also criticized attempts to take over public lands. He pointed out that such an action is inconsistent with the Idaho Constitution. Besides Wasden, other western attorneys general agreed in a 2016 report that there is no basis in the law for a lawsuit that would compel the federal government to transfer hundreds of millions of acres of public lands to the states.
Which Politicians Oppose This Takeover?
The bad news is that not ALL politicians are listening to the people. In Washington, DC, both Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch supported a 2015 budget resolution amendment, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), that supported efforts to sell or transfer lands to the states.
A similar budgetary measure at the start of the current session of Congress was supported by both Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador. Yet Rep. Simpson said in an Idaho Statesman article last week, “Our public lands are why we live here and we need to defend them and we should not sell them off and we should not return them to the state of Idaho.” If you think this contradictory stance is confusing, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, the reality is that, if lands are transferred to the state, they would be at much higher risk of being sold off into private ownership. In fact, more than a third of all lands granted at the time of Idaho’s statehood have been privatized. What’s more, many of those lands may have been sold off in violation of the Idaho Constitution. The bottom line is … our public lands are not for sale!
So What Can Be Done?
You can help “keep public lands in public lands”:
- Use the form below to reach out to your congressional delegation. Let your senators and congressman know that you do not want to see our public lands auctioned off to the highest bidder.
- Make a gift to the Idaho Conservation League so that we can continue advocating for our public lands—for today and for future generations of Americans.
Public Lands Need You!
Let your senators and congressman know that our public lands MUST be protected for future generations of Americans! Use the form below to email your respectful comments. These talking points may help you focus on what matters most to you. Also, to make your comments more powerful, personalize your message.
- Describe why public lands are important to you. How do they contribute to your quality of life? Why do you love living in Idaho?
- Point out how the cost of managing public lands would quickly overwhelm the state budget and lead to these lands being sold off. Rep. Simpson, Attorney General Wasden and Gov. Otter have confirmed these points.
- Acknowledge that the Idaho Constitution forever disclaimed Idaho’s interest to “all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof.”
- Point out that more than one-third of the lands given to Idaho at statehood have been sold off, and some were possibly sold off in violation of the Constitution.
- Recognize that Idahoans are national leaders in finding collaborative solutions to address public lands management, creating jobs, restoring public forests and rangelands and protecting public lands for future generations.
- The time has come to end public lands takeover attempts. Ask ALL your elected officials to publicly denounce this misguided effort!