A rare Sunday session of the U.S. Senate today brought promising news for the Owyhee Initiative, according to sponsor Sen. Mike Crapo, in the form of a strong 66-12 procedural vote on a larger bill containing the wilderness measure. The initiative is tucked into an omnibus bill containing more than 150 separate land management proposals, whose sponsors include nearly half the members of the Senate. "This omnibus lands bill has broad support in every region of the country," Crapo declared. New Idaho Sen. Jim Risch cast his first Senate vote in favor. Click below to read a report from Crapo's office on what happened.
For Immediate Release
OWYHEE INITIATIVE RECEIVES MILESTONE SENATE VOTE
Vote to end debate on lands bill demonstrates support
Washington, DC – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo’s Owyhee Initiative legislation, as part of a package of lands bills, today passed a legislative milestone demonstrating support that may carry the bill to final Senate passage in the next few days. By a vote of 66 to 12, the Senate today invoked closure (stopped debate over a bill to move to a final vote) on the S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. S. 22 contains over 150 separate land management bills, including Crapo’s Owyhee Initiative package and other provisions for Idaho. The vote margin may be an indication that the overall measure will receive final approval in the next few days and move to the House of Representatives.
“The vote today gives the collaborative process regarding public lands management a strong endorsement,” Crapo said. “The Owyhee Initiative is the result of a long-term collaborative process, and it can provide a model to other environmental and land use issues in Idaho and around the nation.”
Crapo spoke on the Senate floor today in support of the Initiative and the overall lands bill. “To call this legislation bipartisan is an understatement,” Crapo said. “This bill contains over 150 individual provisions, sponsored by almost 50 different members -nearly half of our colleagues in this chamber.
“It represents every region of the country and has an almost equal number of bills from each side of the aisle, from ranchers to conservationists to Tribal members,” Crapo added. “It will provide significant protections existing public lands, enhance private property rights, improve recreation, cultural and historic opportunities and provide important economic benefits for rural economies such as in my home state of Idaho.
“As with my Owyhee wilderness legislation, not everyone got exactly what they wanted, but the broad array of collaborators achieved enough of their objectives to support the whole package and get behind legislation that offers significant improvement to land management practices and a reduction in decades-old conflict. Similarly, this omnibus lands bill has broad support in every region of the country. As a result, on balance, this omnibus lands bill is widely supported and represents a diverse group of interests from every region in the country,” Crapo concluded.
The bill contains the Owyhee Initiative provisions to create more than 500,000 acres of wilderness, release nearly 200,000 acres from wilderness study to multiple use and protect ranchers and rivers in Southwest Idaho.
The Omnibus lands bill also contains provisions for a land exchange in Twin Falls to benefit the Auger Falls park project and provisions to rename the Snake River Birds of Prey area in memory of raptor enthusiast Morley Nelson. It also contains funding to compensate ranchers who lose stock to wolves and for restoration of priority forest landscapes.
New Idaho Senator Jim Risch cast his first vote in the U.S. Senate to join Crapo in supporting the Omnibus lands bill. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to my colleague Senator Risch for his vote for the bill and for the Owyhee Initiative, dating to back to when he served as Governor of the Great State of Idaho,” Crapo added.