Public Land transfer hearings soon in Idaho

Importance of fighting to keep the public land public grows with likely Republican Senate win in November-

Even though most of the public opinion in the West does not favor giving the national parks, forests, BLM lands and wildlife refuges to the states, this is a priority among conservative elites in the West. The polls seem to be showing a steady, though slight margin for Republican candidates in most of the closely contested U. S. Senate races.  The odds of total Republican control of congress are growing. It is likely that with a GOP majority, plans to take away the public lands legislatively will finally move toward law.  This will probably come as part of a legislative package the embattled President can’t afford not to accept.

The battle will increasingly move to the states, and in Idaho where the legislator has ignored public opinion on the issues (as measured in the polls) the state legislature’s Interim Committee on Federal Lands is holding hearings next week.

This body is a two-year committee formed in 2013 by Idaho House Concurrent Resolution No. 21, which authorized the committee to complete a study of the process for the State of Idaho to acquire title to and control of public lands administered by the US Forest Service and the BLM.  (This “transfer” was demanded by the Idaho Legislature in a companion Resolution, HCR No. 22.).

The committee has already held hearings in northern Idaho at Kamiah, St. Maries, and Sandpoint.  They are holding 4 more, as follow:  Oct. 9 –   Idaho Falls – 9:00 AM –  Auditorium of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at 995 University Blvd.  Oct . 9 –  Soda Springs – 6:30 PM – City Council Chambers at 9 West 2nd South.  Oct. 10 – Twin Falls – 10:30 AM – College of Southern Idaho Herrett Center in the Rick Allen Auditorium, 315 Falls Avenue.   Oct. 10 – Hailey – 6:30 PM – Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater, 1050 Fox Acre Road.





, ,



  1. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    I really can’t believe that they will take control of the senate. If they do we are in for big trouble , so I agree with Ralph on this point. But according to people on the ED show, we still have a shot at leaving control with the democrats. We really need all the help we can get when in comes to wildlife and keeping our lands as free as we can.

  2. W. Hong Avatar
    W. Hong

    Based on what I have been reading and watching the last few months, the democrat party does not seem like it has been very good for wildlife in this country for the last few years?

    1. Ed Loosli Avatar
      Ed Loosli

      W.Hong: You are correct, that the Democrats have not been very good as far as wildlife is concerned lately … However, the Republicans are even worse – much worse.

  3. timz Avatar

    I would not count on the Democrats for anything. I foolishly thought they would put the kibosh on the wolf rider in a budget bill. Of the 81 Senators who voted for the rider most of them were Democrats, as a matter of fact only 3 Democrats voted no. It was then signed into law by a Democrat in the White House.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Me neither. But I suppose they are the lesser of the two evils, as poor as they are. Hold your nose when you vote, and try not to vomit afterwards.

      1. timz Avatar

        Sadly this is what we have come to as a nation. Going to the polls and voting for the lesser of two evils, which is still voting for evil. It’s no wonder voter turnout is low.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan


          But it is important to vote nonetheless because there is bad and then there is awful.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    W.Hong and timz,

    You are right that the Democrats, a fair number a least, are not very good on wildlife policy.

    Unfortunately, there is little choice, actually no choice on the Republican side. Not a single Republican in the Senate is good on wildlife. Most are truly awful. Here is the League of Conservation Voters congressional scorecard.

    If you think I am wrong, suggest a wildlife friendly Republican.

    1. Amre Avatar

      We can’t afford to let republicans take over the senate. Period.

    2. W. Hong Avatar
      W. Hong

      Mr. Maughan,

      I can only read, I can not vote in the American Elections and I am not able to understand a lot of this stuff, I was just saying this based on what I have read on here and many other news and blogs website

    3. Ed Loosli Avatar
      Ed Loosli

      Ralph: I have even given up on the Lease of Conservation Voters, ever since that gave Montana Senator Jon Tester (Democrat) their “Conservation Hero” award, after Sen. Tester authored the “rider” that removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list — Not a hero in my book.

      1. Ed Loosli Avatar
        Ed Loosli

        Ralph (re-typed,,, I should have proof read before I clicked Post-Comment): I have even given up on the League of Conservation Voters ever since they gave Montana Senator Jon Tester (Democrat) their “Conservation Hero” award after Sen. Tester authored the “rider” that removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list — Not a hero in my book.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Ed Loosli,

          As you likely know, groups that give office-holders scores do it on a number of votes. They choose the votes that make up the “score.”

          You or I might regard one particular vote as overwhelmingly important (such as the wolf delisting). Our score would differ from theirs. Nonetheless, I think LCV ratings overall separate office-holders in bulk.

          1. Ed Loosli Avatar
            Ed Loosli

            Ralph: Yes, the League of Conservation voters heavily weighs its scores toward “climate change” votes, and minimizes votes on wildlife conservation votes like wolves remaining on the Endangered Species list.

    4. timz Avatar

      How can one give any credence to a scorecard that gives a senator who is responsible for a backdoor gutting of the ESA a 92% favorable score.

  5. Ken Watts Avatar
    Ken Watts

    The State should hold an advisory vote on this issue so that the will of the people is clearly known.

    1. MAD Avatar

      Since these federal lands are titled to the United States, and held in trust for ALL Americans, it would be fundamentally undemocratic to just allow the residents of Idaho a vote on this issue. If you truly desire “that the will of the people is clearly known”, then we need to have a national referendum, and not just the obviously biased majority in Idaho. But that’s not really what you want, is it? Because yes, the people that Idahoans hate from the East & West Coasts have as much say as you do regarding our precious federal lands.

  6. Jon Way Avatar
    Jon Way

    Do these welfare states (ID, WY, MT among others) still get a bigger % of money than what they put in if they take control of federal lands? I assume yes which means they are hypocrites and want it both ways…

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    For those who want to send comments to Idaho lawmakers on the committee, here is information to make it easy for you.

    “Rep. Lawerence Denney” ldenney,
    “Rep. Mat Erpelding” merpelding,
    “Rep. Mike Moyle” mmoyle,
    “Rep. Stephen Hartgen” shartgen,
    “Rep. Terry Gestrin” tgestrin,
    Senator Bart Davis bmdavis,
    Senator Chuck Winder cwinder,
    Senator John Tippets jtippets,
    Senator Michelle Stennett mstennett,
    Senator Sheryl Nuxoll snuxoll

  8. Ken fischman Avatar
    Ken fischman

    heather scott’ who is running for representative is on record for Idaho taking over federal lands. vote in November

  9. Ed Loosli Avatar
    Ed Loosli

    Jon: Yes, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are all “welfare states”. Wyoming takes in $1.11 from the federal government taxpayers for every dollar they pay out. Idaho is worse, receiving $1.28 for every dollar paid out in federal taxes. Montana is even worse, with Montanans receiving $1.58 from American taxpayers for every dollar they pay out. (July 2013 figures)

    1. TC Avatar

      Wyoming also produces an awful lot of energy for the rest of the country (#1 for coal, #2 for natural gas, #7 for oil and #13 and likely soon to become #1 for wind, building the largest wind turbine installation in the country now – 344 square miles of bloody turbines to send yet more power to Las Vegas and California – regardless of your philosophy on these sources of power, nearly all of you use it up daily without a thought to where it comes from). This energy extraction comes with many costs to the state, not least costs to other natural resources including wildlife and wild spaces, water quality issues, air quality crises, unwelcome intrusion and disturbance to private lands (if you do not own the mineral rights), a somewhat less than savory transient workforce, damage to infrastructure including roads, and lost recreational opportunities. The severance, reclamation, and royalty taxes paid by energy extraction enterprises are supposed to make up for this, but guess what – they are a pittance compared to the profit margins. Welfare state? Not so much. Raped and pillaged to keep on powering all of your computers so you can post your brilliance? Yeah, kinda. Not to mention, keep playing this card – it feeds right into the sagebrush rebellion platform; all of the public (federal) land in Wyoming could be privatized and sold to businesses and citizens that then would be paying taxes on income earned from the land and businesses run from that land. More than a few of the savvy land-grabbers make this argument already, and vehemently. Get out a map someday and plot how much public land there is in the three states you keep denigrating. And then figure out how much it costs for that privilege. That land could be producing income for Uncle Sam, rather than swallowing income. Which would you prefer?

      1. Ed Loosli Avatar
        Ed Loosli

        TC: Nice try to explain away these “welfare state” figures. However, these figure are per capita figures and besides no one is making Wyoming degrade its own environment and wildlife with poor state regulations. This is purely the fact that much of Wyoming (and North Dakota) has been sacrificed to the corporate world by politicians who have been bought off by these very same companies. States spend almost no state funds on federal lands, it is the feds who are spending federal money on Wyoming projects and its citizens.

        1. TC Avatar

          Wyoming does in fact spend a not inconsiderable amount of state funds on public lands, although not always wisely, and you’d know that if you perused the biennial budget in detail like I have the joy of doing not infrequently.

          When your state of 38,000,000+ million stops demanding and using energy (that is produced in nowhere near the need instate) like it’s infinitely available I’ll be happy to discuss Wyoming’s environmental policies – they do need attention. Even the EPA and Obama administration can’t seem to get engaged much when the country keeps demanding cheap gasoline, cheap home heating, and cheap electricity, and compromise to the point of surrender is the MO.

          And you are aware that California ranks just behind Wyoming as a “welfare” state, right? A $0.94 return on every federal dollar delivered versus $0.91 for Wyoming. Given the population and programmatic funding differences (38,000,000+ versus 580,000) I’d say the check CA ought to be writing makes Wyoming’s pale in comparison.

    2. topher Avatar

      I wonder how much of that welfare money is actually money spent on federal lands contained within these states. Hard to say without seeing a breakdown of the numbers. Or any of the numbers for that matter.

  10. Kathleen Avatar

    Guest commentary in today’s Missoulian from Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls, MT:
    “Transferring federal lands to states will mean better management”

    Her slide show is worth a look, including: posing with a “Don’t tread on me” flag; posing in a Patriots jersey (“I love patriots of all kinds”); a glamour shot posing with a gun and a dead deer; paying homage to Ken Ivory of UT; wishing us a Merry Christmas (“wishing you an increasingly FaithFULL relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior… because life is better with Jesus leading the way”); using bad grammar (“Very grateful for parents who gave my siblings and I a strong work ethic”) and other images.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan