Chukar hunters know that public lands in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington house these amazing birds, and that these lands are under constant threat of being sold out from under us. This threat is intensifying dramatically with the new administration. Rarely do we get an opportunity to express our opinions at a public meeting with a politician involved in the effort to remove public lands from the people who have footed the management bill for them.
This Saturday, February 18th, from 11-12 p.m., the tiny town of Council, Idaho is offering the chance for us to express our opinions about this issue. Idaho Representative Judy Boyle, from Midvale, will be on hand, hopefully to listen to her constituents’ concerns. Representative Boyle has been perhaps the most ardent agent hoping to transfer federal land to Idaho, and with the support of her federal colleagues in Washington, chances are better than ever that these lands will be transferred to the state. If that does happen, those lands that you and I have hunted birds and big game on for generations will most likely be lost to us forever.
If you have an opinion about this, please come to the meeting. I’m betting they aren’t expecting a lot of people. Show up and make your voice heard. Be respectful, but be knowledgeable. Here are a few resources that might help if you’re not already familiar with them:
- Idaho Constitution, Article XXI, Section 19: “…the people of the state of Idaho do agree and declare that we forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries [of Idaho]… [and] this ordinance shall be irrevocable, without the consent of the United States and the people of the state of Idaho.” In other words, Idaho cannot legally accept federal land without our permission, and U.S. Congress’s permission. Congress is basically saying, “Go ahead, Idaho, take it.” We don’t have to agree.
- Idaho’s Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden, has said that the land transfer effort will fail in court because of the language in Idaho’s Constitution, yet Idaho taxpayers continue to foot the bill for Representative Boyle’s efforts to pursue this issue.
- Idaho has sold more than 40% of its state land, which experts think would increase if federal lands are transferred to state management.
- Idaho Sportsmen’s Access fact sheet on effects of public land transfer shows that nearly everyone who sets foot on these lands opposes this effort.
- The American Lands Council, which sounds like a pro-public land group, is anything but. Visit their website and fact-check it: you will find that this group, funded by the Koch Brothers, owners of the second largest private company in America, is engaged primarily in securing mining and oil extraction rights throughout North America. This is the real impetus behind the public land transfer effort. Don’t be fooled by their rhetoric, which is designed to misdirect and obscure their goal: get more oil, by any means necessary.
- Ken Ivory, a Utah lawmaker, earns $135K/year on the side to provide western states, at great cost to its taxpayers, a complex legal argument and strategy to get these millions of acres of BLM and Forest Service lands transferred to the states. Check out the New York Times article on Ivory, which documents funding connections between Ivory and the Koch Brothers.
There are lots more resources out there about this. If you care about keeping these lands for all to use, under the sensible and fair “multiple use” doctrine that has worked to keep these lands open to all of us — hunters, ranchers, hikers, fishermen, and every other kind of outdoor recreationist — for generations, then make your voice heard. Call, email, text, Tweet, and otherwise contact your state representatives as often as possible. They are listening. I hope they actually hear us.