Greater local management is right solution for Idaho’s public lands

The following article was originally published in The Coeur d’Alene Press on November 18, 2015, by Idaho State Senator Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene). It has been republished here with express permission from The Coeur d’Alene Press.

Idaho is blessed with incredible natural resources that should sustain our communities and grow Idaho’s economy. However, misguided policies coming out of Washington, D.C., created by individuals who don’t understand our Idaho values, threaten the use of these resources.

We need a leader who defends Idaho’s natural resources and those who make a living off the land.

Brad Little has been working on public lands issues his entire life. A third generation Idaho rancher and farmer from Gem County, he first cut his teeth on the Sagebrush Rebellion in the late 1970s.

Brad has a record of standing up to the federal government. In 2000, he led the group — which included Boise Cascade and recreational groups — that successfully sued and stopped a burdensome Clinton Administration regulation that would have locked up millions of acres of undesignated federal forestlands. Because of Brad’s leadership, a new Republican administration gave Idaho the opportunity to draft its own roadless rule, a rule that made sense for rural communities and their economies.

As important as proper education funding is, the rural public school districts in Idaho continue to suffer under federal land management due to lack of economic opportunities.

There are plenty of examples of common sense land management within our state. Federal forests and rangelands should be managed like state and privately held lands are currently managed — actively.

Out-of-state environmentalists claim that active management, or greater state and local management, are a threat to the health of our public lands. The evidence suggests otherwise. Every summer brings out-of-control wildfires, burning up hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and rangelands, and producing more smoke than any power plant or factory could. These catastrophic fires generally occur on federal lands. Something must be done.

All Idahoans want balance in the management of our public lands. We want access for hunting, fishing and recreation — opportunities for ranchers, farmers, miners and loggers to make a living — thriving rural economies and a healthy environment.

Accomplishing these goals requires as much local control as possible.

As it has been throughout its history, Idaho must be the preferred place for liberty and economic prosperity for this generation and generations to come. This continued prosperity can only happen with the freedom of greater local management of Idaho’s public lands, leading to better management of Idaho’s natural resources.

As Idaho’s next governor, Brad Little is the leader who is best prepared to defend Idaho’s natural resource industries and push back against constant threats from federal mismanagement and overreach.