Rocky Barker gives an account of the divergent views expressed at a recent panel in Boise about how to take on environmental challenges in the West.

Idaho moves the ball forward on environmental policyLetters from the West 

The post gives a few quotes that are quite representative of the different models for conservation in the west, with Idaho Conservation League’s Rick Johnson calling for bipartisanship to achieve environmental advance, Advocates for the West’s Laird Lucas suggesting that in such a one-party dominated state it requires conflict/rocking the boat to affect change, and with politicians and activists describing diverse issues and approaches.

What do you think ?  Activism; conflict resolution; or something in between ?

About The Author

Brian Ertz

4 Responses to Idaho moves the ball forward on environmental policy

  1. TPageCO says:

    One of Rick Johnson’s main points regarding the roadless rule didn’t stress bipartisanship, as much as a “bottoms-up” approach. He noted that the recent Idaho-sponsored roadless rule is very close to the original “top-down” Clinton rule of 2001, yet it didn’t generate nearly the same amount of animosity.

    Most of the discussion centered on what issues were most important, rather than conservation models, so it’s difficult to answer your question, Brian.

    Certainly what resonates most with me is to be out on the ground (or in the water) and actually see what we’re trying to keep around. Standing alone in the tiny Pahsimeroi River and watching a huge battered chinook on the redd is pretty motivating.

  2. MP says:

    I was amazed when the Final Idaho Roadless Rule was released at the end of August 2008. The comments of Idaho residents were listened to, and incorporated into the FEIS Idaho Roadless Rule.
    I am very happy that many of the outstanding roadless areas of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest were moved from the least restrictive general forest theme, into the more restrictive backcountry theme.
    The roadless areas on the Caribou-Targhee NF left open to the least restrictive general forest theme are vital to jobs and the economy of eastern Idaho.
    We cannot destroy people’s jobs and the economy of towns and cities in eastern Idaho with a preserve it all mind thought.
    We must insist that the environmental impacts to development of these general forest theme lands be subjected to the strictest environmental standards.

  3. Brian Ertz says:


    could you explain how the “bottoms-up” approach works ?

  4. TPageCO says:


    I’m not really familiar with how Risch’s Idaho roadless plan was formed, so I can’t speak for that. Certainly you know much more about that topic than I do. As for your question – I’m just paraphrasing what Rick said at the event, regarding the creation of the plan. My sense of what he meant by a “bottoms-up” approach was that the plan was nominally put forth by the state (the bottom) as opposed to the feds (the top), but you’d have to ask him about that.

    Personally, I find the most successful conservation programs work on specific place-based issues. There seems to have been good progress in some places on issues like instream flows, easements, noxious weeds, some wildlife species…while other geographically larger issues (public land grazing on arid lands, global warming, salmon recovery to name just three) have been more intractable. Privately funded conservation programs with a good state and federal match have been more successful, in my experience, than programs run solely by govt agencies.


September 2008


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey