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Have your say on Roadless Area Management

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As became painfully (at least for Butch Otter) apparent late last year, people around the state--from Boise to BFE--care about the future of Idaho's public lands and roadless areas (see: BW, News, "Brady Fires Shot at Butch's 'Fire Sale,' Dec. 21, 20005, and "Otter Sorta Apologizes," Jan. 11, 2006). But for some reason, the largest population base in the state isn't being given an official chance to have their say about how the state should manage its roadless areas. That reason: Our county commissioners, who are supposed to make management recommendations to Governor Kempthorne by March 1, aren't following the lead of other Idaho counties and holding one.

So what's the answer? According to recent actions by Trout Unlimited, the Idaho Conservation League and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation League, "If you can't beat 'em, do their job for 'em!" The three groups are hosting their own public meeting this Thursday, both to give Treasure Valley residents the opportunity to learn about our state's roadless areas--did you know there are 243 of them? Cripes!--and to offer video and written testimony that will be delivered straight to the Governor's Office. Kempthorne is due to turn in his recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service by November 13.

"The process put in place by the governor last year has not really been a process at all," said Scott Stouder, Trout Unlimited's roadless area coordinator, in a statement publicizing the meeting. "It's been hit or miss when it comes to gathering Idaho's public input on roadless areas. And they missed the Boise area."

The meeting will be emceed by James Piotrowski, president of Trout Unlimited's Ted Trueblood Chapter in Boise, and will feature speakers including Jim Caswell, director of the state Office of Species Conservation, as well as presentations from a variety of hunters, hikers, anglers and backcountry enthusiasts.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Idaho Historical Museum, 610 Julia Davis Drive.