March 25, 2009

Crapo Commends Final Passage Of Owyhee Initiative

Says local collaboration and bipartisanship key to success

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo said local collaboration and a commitment to working in a bipartisan fashion are the reasons Idaho will soon have its first land management and wilderness legislation in nearly 30 years. The U.S. House of Representatives today gave final approval to a Public Lands bill already approved by the Senate. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation during a White House ceremony, perhaps as early as Monday.

Crapo's Owyhee Initiative legislation started eight years ago in an effort to end land management disputes and establish a process for planning the future in southwest Idaho. It protects the cultural resources of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, the economic interest of ranchers for the long term, protects 517,000 acres as wilderness in the Owyhee Canyonlands and releases 199,000 acres of wilderness study areas to multiple use. The legislation also protects 316 miles of waterways under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Hunting, fishing and recreational vehicle access in the area will be maintained. Crapo released this statement following the passage of H.R. 146 in the House today:

"I thank everybody who has made this process work. Our key players have stuck with this for eight years, and that includes the Shoshone Paiute Tribes, the Owyhee County Commissioners, conservationists, ranchers and recreationalists, and the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management, as well as my colleagues in the House and Senate who have persisted to get this legislation passed. I offer my appreciation for the efforts of Senators Reid, Bingaman, Murkowski, Risch, Barrasso, and Leader Boehner, Representatives Simpson and Minnick and Majority Leader Hoyer. Many of us have been in close contact, often on a daily basis, to move this bill and it really demonstrates the spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration that is at the core of this Owyhee Initiative.

"Our immediate focus is implementation of the Owyhee Initiative according to the Owyhee Initiative Agreement, which was hard-fought and long negotiated within the Owyhee Initiative Work Group, and which will be an enduring testament to the power and potential of collaboration. That implementation generally will consist of aggressively working with the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management to conduct the activities directed by this law, and raising the private funding required to pay for many of the important elements of the Owyhee Initiative legislation."