Speakers to Idaho Legislature's Interim Committee Considering Takeover of Federal Lands: Don't Do It

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Earlier this year, Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke revealed his desire for the U.S. government to transfer management of millions of acres of federal land over to the stewardship of Idaho.

"What if they, someday, just tossed the keys in our laps and walked away?" Bedke asked at an April forum sponsored by Boise State Public Radio. "I contend that [Idaho] already has a very successful land management model."

Time and again, Bedke has referred to Idaho's 3.6 million acres of endowment lands, granted to the state in 1890 and managed by the Idaho Department of Lands.

But at a daylong hearing Oct. 28, held by Idaho Legislature's Federal lands Interim Committee, a string of guests who were asked to testify said the idea of Idaho taking over federal lands was a risky proposition.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that the committee heard from sportsmen, tribal leaders, environmental organizations, grazing interests and timber industry representatives. "Most took a generally skeptical view of state ownership," wrote the Tribune's Bill Spence. "Although the ranchers and timber representatives expressed a hope that some type of solution could be found to the cumbersome and ineffective federal land management process."

Midvale Republican Rep. Lawerence Denney, who just last week announced his intention to run in the 2014 Republican primary for Idaho Secretary of State, is the interim committee co-chair and author of a proposal to transfer federal lands to the state. He indicated that the interim committee would meet again Wednesday, Dec. 4.

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