Public opposition appears in Idaho Falls to land transfer to Idaho (updated)

Only one person testifies in favor of Idaho taking the public lands from the United States-

Recent months have seen a stall in efforts by right wing rural elites to transfer the public lands from their historic ownership by the Unites States and give them to the states. Public opinion surveys show the public doesn’t want it.  In addition, Montana just abandoned its efforts to take the public lands. Hearings and demonstrations showed a lot of opposition in Montana, and a legal investigation of the plan concluded it would cost Montana rather generate net revenue for the state. The taxpayers’ costs of transfer have frightened some supporters in other states, including Idaho.

Last night in Idaho Falls, ID, the big Eastern Idaho hearing generated almost no support for Idaho taking away the public lands to replace it with state management.

The October 9th hearing before the Idaho Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee in Idaho Falls, Idaho, showed just one person testifying in favor of the proposed and transfer. This was a big difference from hearings in 2013 where testimony was mixed with organized interest groups representing the logging contractors, the Idaho Cattle Association and similar entities showed support because there would be fewer regulations. Here is a report on the hearing. “Federal Land Transfer faces Opposition.” By Luke Jones.  KIDK and other television stations.

The one person in favor at Idaho Falls was state legislator Chuck Winder-R. This represents the pattern with most of the visible support coming from legislators, not the public. Of course, legislative support is the most important kind of support.

There was also a hearing last night in Soda Springs, Idaho, an Eastern Idaho town heavily dependent on phosphate strip/pit mining, mostly on federal public land. There is no information yet from that hearing.

Hearings scheduled today are Twin Falls at 10:30 AM at College of Southern Idaho Herrett Center in the Rick Allen Auditorium, 315 Falls Avenue.  The last is tonight in Hailey at 6:30 PM in the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater, 1050 Fox Acre Road.

– – – – – – –

October 14, 2014. The last two public hearings in Idaho, Twin Falls and Hailey, also showed strong opposition to the proposed land transfer. Twin Falls is a conservative area. Hailey is more liberal.

Crowd at Twin Falls hearing largely against taking federal lands. Magic Valley Times News.

Hailey: local residents oppose federal land transfer. By Greg Moore. Idaho Mountain Express.






  1. Ken Watts Avatar
    Ken Watts

    What I hear people say is; they are OK with State control of the land as long as it stays public and can never be sold to private interests. I think they prefer local/State control.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Ken Watts,

      All of the public opinion surveys on the issue show a majority in these states (except Utah) against the land transfer. There was also an actual vote on it, a ballot initiative in Arizona in 2012. It failed.

      We reported all the surveys on the issue we could find over the last couple years. A search of TWN ought to bring them up.

  2. Greta Hyland Avatar

    I think there is a large amount ignorance out there about what public lands are and what they mean to us. People only support State management of public lands because they do not understand the costs of managing them or the purpose behind their existence. It is very disconcerting. In lieu of rewriting my thoughts on this topic I will just share my post and if you or anyone is interested you can take a look. Thanks for keeping us up to date on this stuff.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Greta Hyland,

      For about ten years I taught a class, Public Land Politics, at Idaho State University.

      It was amazing how little people know about the origin, history and management of the public lands.

      Students said they really liked the class, and they were referring to the subject matter certainly as much or more than my teaching. I often heard “I didn’t have a clue when I began the course.”


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