March 19, 2009

Senate Again Approves Owyhee, Idaho Projects

Crapo says public lands bill has many Idaho projects

Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate today again approved a public lands package, H.R. 146, containing Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's Owyhee Initiative Legislation and several other projects to benefit Idahoans. With Crapo on the Senate floor to manage the vote, the measure passed 77 to 20. Now that it has been approved by the Senate, the bill goes to the House for a simple majority vote next week.

"Many of the provisions in this legislation, such as the Owyhee Initiative, are the product of years of extensive collaboration at the federal, state and local levels," Crapo said during a speech on the Senate floor. He noted the public lands bill was put together in a spirit of compromise and with the backing of appropriate committee chairmen and Senate leadership.

The public lands bill also contains provisions for a land exchange in Twin Falls to benefit the city's Auger Falls park project and provisions to rename the Snake River Birds of Prey area in memory of raptor enthusiast Morley Nelson. It contains funding to compensate ranchers who lose stock to wolves, and prioritizes efforts to restore forest landscapes and funding to study water storage projects in Idaho.

"The people who collaborated on the Owyhee Initiative came from many groups and institutions, interests that historically were battling head-to-head, and instead were willing to work through things in a way that sets a tremendous example for how we should approach land management decisions and conflicts in this nation," Crapo added. "That example is a reason why this important legislation should see final passage and be signed by the President."

"I am pleased to once again support legislation that includes the Owyhee Initiative," said Idaho Senator Jim Risch. "The collaborative process is very important in establishing workable lands solutions. I greatly appreciate the leadership of Senator Crapo and the involvement of so many groups and individuals on this important public lands issue.

Crapo helped organize the Idaho work group that wrote the Owyhee Initiative at the request of Owyhee County Commissioners seeking to end decades of land use conflict in Southwest Idaho. The collaborative effort provides certainty for agricultural operations, releases 199,000 acres of wilderness study areas to multiple uses, creates 517,000 acres of new wilderness and offers wild and scenic protection to 316 miles of Idaho rivers and streams in the Owyhees. The bill first passed the Senate January 15th as part of the Public Lands Management Act by a vote of 73 to 21.