March 16, 2005

Craig, Crapo Praise Senate Passage Of Idaho Land Bills

Bills allow land exchanges in Sandpoint and the Silver Valley, and protect Salmon River Lodges as intended by original legislation

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo praised Senate passage last night of three Idaho land bills by unanimous consent. S. 434 and 435 allow for specific land transfers for the benefit of government agencies and local communities in Sandpoint, ID and the Silver Valley. S.1003 intends to remove any ambiguity as to the intent of the Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980 to provide for continuation of the historical use of outfitter hunting camps on the Salmon River.â??Both land transfers for the Silver Valley and Sandpoint are excellent examples of federal agencies and communities working together in the best interest of the land and the taxpayers,â?? Senator Craig said. â??In addition, I am very pleased that the Senate has approved S. 1003, a bill to restate the intent of the Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980 as it pertains to the Salmon Rivers lodges issue. It is clear to me that Senator Church, the main proponent of the legislation, intended for these lodges to remain. I am mystified as to why anyone would want to eliminate this historical use and Senator Churchâ??s intended protections.â??Senator Mike Crapo said, â??These bills represent common sense, collaborative solutions between federal and local agencies to the benefit of Idaho. The Sandpoint Land and Facilities Conveyance Act is a win-win for the county and the Forest Service. The Idaho Panhandle National Forest Improvement Act will allow the Forest Service to improve the ranger station in the Silver Valley portion of the Forest. The third bill, S. 1003, clarifies the intent of Congress with respect to the continued use of established commercial outfitter hunting camps on the Salmon River. The Central Idaho Wilderness Act was clear in protecting these existing uses. With Senate passage, we are one step closer to ensuring Congressâ?? intent in protecting these cabins is preserved.â??S. 434 enables the federal government to offer certain parcels of land in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest for sale or exchange. The Forest Service has already determined that the public interest is better served by disposing of these parcels, rather than maintaining ownership. The Forest Service administrative parcels identified for disposal include the land permitted by the Granite/Reeder Sewer District on Priest Lake, Shoshone Camp in Shoshone County, and the North-South Ski Bowl, south of St. Maries. The bill also directs the Forest Service to improve or construct a new ranger station in the Silver Valley.S. 435 intends to transfer ownership of the local General Service Administration (GSA) building in Sandpoint, ID â?? in which the Forest Service is currently housed â?? to the Forest Service. The bill also provides authority for the Forest Service to work with Bonner County, ID to transfer the building to Bonner County, which will then provide for the construction of a new and more functional building for the Forest Service.S. 1003 intends to remove any ambiguity as to the intent of the Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980 to provide for continuation of the historical use of outfitter hunting camps on the Salmon River. These lodges were established well before the river designation, have been managed as a part of the river designation for 23 years, and allow users â?? in particular the elderly and the physically challenged â?? to have access to and enjoy the spirit of this wild area. Their rustic nature upholds the ideals envisioned by Congress, and they are used in accordance with all provisions of the law. The bills must now be approved by the House of Representatives.[30]