February 04, 2005

Idaho Panhandle Forest Bill Clears Congress

Bill would consolidate holdings, provide revenues to Forest

WASHINGTON, D.C. â?? Legislation to consolidate lands on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest cleared Congress today and is expected to be signed by the President. The legislation aims to consolidate holdings and provide revenue for modernizing the ranger station in the Silver Valley. Senator Larry Craig praised its passage, â??This is a sensible solution to make the Forest Service more efficient. Disposing of these parcels enables the Forest Service to focus on priorities important to the public while providing much needed funds to improve the Silver Valleyâ??s ranger station.â?? Senator Mike Crapo said, â??This common-sense legislation is a win-win for all involved. The Forest Service will be able to more efficiently manage its lands and direct proceeds to needs on the forests such as maintenance requirements. I applaud Senator Craigâ??s leadership and diligence in enacting this measure.â?? Congressman C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter said, â??The fact that almost two-thirds of Idaho is overseen by the federal government makes it essential that public lands be treated as much as possible like private property. That means actively managing it for the good of its owners - the American people. Good stewardship dictates consolidating scattered parcels of public land for efficiency and savings. At the same time, we can generate revenue for other property improvements rather than asking taxpayers for more of their hard-earned money. Passing this bill is the kind of thing private landowners would do to protect their investment. It's a standard I'm proud to emulate.â?? â??The passage of this legislation is a clear win for the region, the taxpayers, and the management of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest,â?? said Congressman Mike Simpson. â??I have long believed these types of collaborative agreements are a far better approach to federal land management than the contentious battles that too often sidetrack proper resource management.â?? S. 434, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest Improvement Act, 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. Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Congressman C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter are the chief sponsors of the legislation. Detailed information on S. 434 can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov. NOTE: To link directly to this release, please use the following link: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr111704a.htm. [30]