Weekly Column: From The Mailbag--Public Lands
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
As participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces. Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post information about various issues of importance on my website, http://crapo.senate.gov. One of the issues Idahoans have contacted me about is the management and ownership of our public lands. The following is my response:
Put simply, public lands should remain public. Their values should be preserved and enhanced, and all Idahoans should be able to use and enjoy reasonable access to them. However, in too many cases the federal government is not doing a good job in managing lands under its ownership, and many Idahoans can point to specific examples they have personally experienced or witnessed.
State and federal lands management laws and processes too often drive us to conflict and litigation, and should be reformed to allow more participation-in and influence over management decisions by those closest to the land. State government, local officials and private stakeholders should be empowered to more meaningfully participate in the decision-making processes pertaining to our public lands. Outcomes from this collaborative, consensus building approach will be better for both the environment and the natural resource based economies of Idaho. These outcomes can result in administrative and/or legislative action on the public land in question. The Owyhee Initiative is an example of the kind of collaborative approach that respects the needs of all affected stakeholders by building on the knowledge that local communities have about the public lands that literally comprise their backyards.
The land management challenges facing Idaho and western states did not happen overnight. As such, it will take time, dedicated efforts and robust public participation to achieve the outcomes we all seek. That is why I support the various collaborative groups and efforts across Idaho’s National Forests and Bureau of Land Management Lands, including the Governor’s Shared Stewardship Task Force. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to enact federal land management policies that maintain public access and ensure resilient, self-sustaining economies for our rural counties for years to come.
For more information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos, and other items of interest, please visit my Senate website, http://crapo.senate.gov. The website also provides information about how to contact me to share your views via email, phone and mailing addresses. News about recent activities and information about accessing my Facebook and YouTube pages and following me on Twitter can also be found on the website. Links to legislation and other resources to assist Idahoans who need help with federal agencies can also be accessed on the website. The messages you send me help to shape my approach on a number of important matters. Please continue to contact me and share your thoughts and ideas.
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Word Count: 475
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