Environment and Natural Resources

Idaho is fortunate to be home to some of our nation’s most unique landscapes and vast natural resources.  I grew up among our public lands and learned to appreciate the tremendous blessing they are to not just Idaho, but to our nation.  Public lands offer all of us an improved quality of life.  Their natural beauty provides cleaner air and water, habitat to support abundant wildlife and opportunities for environmental, recreational and economic enrichment.  I remain dedicated to protecting our environment in a manner that ensures the vitality of our forests and rangelands, ensures the rights of property owners and addresses the economic needs of our rural communities. Conservation and economic progress do not need to be at odds, but clearly conservation must be a component of successful environment and natural resource policy.  Through a common sense approach of collaboration and cooperation, we can achieve workable solutions to some of the most challenging issues involving our land, environment and natural resources that balance the clear need for ecological health, adhere to multiple-use principles and achieve economic vitality. 

The Owyhee Initiative, signed into law in 2009, is a great example of the success of utilizing collaboration to resolve public lands issues.  Eight years of hard work and long hours by Owyhee County Commissioners, the Owyhee Initiative work group, and many others, put to rest decades of conflicts in Southwest Idaho and fostered agreement among recreational groups, ranchers, conservation groups, local residents, elected leaders and others.  I am proud to have shepherded this agreement through Congress and into law, and commend the participants in the process.  The success of the Owyhee Initiative should serve as a model for other agreements throughout the West.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our local communities are heard in the formulation of decisions that impact the land on which they live and depend.  Measures that empower state and local officials, and private stakeholders to lead in the decision-making processes pertaining to our public lands help to avoid the drawn-out conflicts and costly litigation that we see all too often in communities throughout the West.  I will continue to work to enact land management policies that ensure the strength of our natural environment, maintain public access and ensure resilient, self-sustaining economies for our rural counties for years to come.