Posts tagged: idaho legislature
HUNTING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game won House approval to give hunters and anglers a break on their licenses, provided they buy them year after year. The agency needs approval from the state legislature to change hunting and fishing license fees.
Representatives voted 61-6 Wednesday for the plan allowing the Fish and Game Commission more flexibility to offer so-called “loyalty discounts,” the Associated Press reports.
The measure will head to the Senate.
Idaho’s wildlife agency says many hunters now buy licenses only sporadically.
Consequently, its leaders want to provide an incentive — in the form of a discount — to people who buy them in consecutive years.
The agency forecasts it could reap $300,000 in additional revenue annually, with the change.
Foes doubted whether the measure will boost revenue and questioned if Fish and Game really should expand the number of sporting men and women competing for Idaho game.
PUBLIC LANDS — Idaho is about halfway through its two-year investigation on whether it should try to take over federal lands within the state. Opinions vary dramatically on how much it would cost the state if it was able to pull this off. State residents also have polarized opinions.
Now Montana is looking into the possibility.
Control of federal lands focus of Montana hearing
In 2013, the Montana Legislature ordered the Environmental Quality Council to study federal land management, and on Wednesday, the panel heard from Ken Ivory, a Utah state legislator who sponsored legislation to require the federal government to transfer lands to state control, and Tim France, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, as well as state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, who said surveys on the issue were sent to Montana counties where the federal government owned 15 percent or more of the land.
—Great Falls Tribune
Oregon, however, is taking a different tact of trying to work WITH federal forest managers:
State forestry leaders in Oregon know they alone can’t change the way federal forests are managed. But they joined Gov. John Kitzhaber Wednesday in outlining the changes they’d like to see as Congress considers several bills that would change forest management, according to a story by Northwest Public Radio.
PUBLIC LANDS — Who do you believe on this issue?
Analysis paints different picture of Idaho taking over federal lands
The Idaho Conservation League released an economic analysis done by a Wilderness Society economist with a Ph.D. from Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry that said the cumulative cost of Idaho taking control over most of the federal government's lands within its borders would be $2 billion over 20 years, while the analysis done by the state Department of Lands earlier this year said the state could reap between $51 million and $75 million annually in net revenue from managing those lands.
—Idaho Mountain Express
PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal by Idaho lawmakers to assume control of millions of acres of federal land statewide earned mixed reviews today, with supporters calling it an essential step to revitalizing rural economies and critics panning it as a financial boondoggle, according to a story that's just been moved by the Associated Press.
The Federal Lands Interim Committee meeting gave lawmakers their first chance to gauge public opinion on a plan calling on the federal government to cede much of the public land it oversees in Idaho to the state, writes AP's Todd Dvorak in Boise.
Earlier this year, the Legislature approved a resolution making a case for the land transfer and the committee is spending two years to study the merits before submitting a recommendation in 2015.
Those encouraging lawmakers Wednesday included leaders of tea party groups, foresters who’ve seen local economies struggle amid declines in timber cutting and the shutdown of sawmills and county leaders frustrated with the management of national forest lands.
Ken Postma, a former forester for wood products company Boise-Cascade, argued the state would be a better steward of the forests and more amenable to expanding logging and other activities.
Read on for more of the story from the Associated Press:
PUBLIC LANDS — A new report sheds light on the grim future of national forests, BLM lands and federal wildlife refuges if certain Idaho Legislators were to get their way.
Report: Federal government spent $392M to manage lands in Idaho in 2012
As Idaho officials mull a method to assume management of federal lands within the state's border, a report from the Congressional Research Service said that the federal government spent $392 million to manage the 32 million acres it controls in the Gem State in fiscal year 2012, considerably more than Idaho's estimate that it could make $50 million to $75 million annually in timber receipts.
TRAILS – Idaho state Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, hasn’t given up his plan to travel the length of Idaho this fall by muscle power to promote trails, experience rural areas and raise funds for the Redside Foundation that supports the health of Idaho guides.
But he said a leg injury has forced him to change his plan from hiking the 950-mile Idaho Centennial Trail to continuing on a bicycle.
He’d hiked 220 miles in 10 days from Upper Priest River Falls to Mullan, but a few days later on the stateline trail along the Bitterroot Mountains, the leg injury got too him.
His Facebook posts show him biking down the old Lewiston Grade and advancing to Riggins and the Mountain Time Zone.
On Wednesday, the outdoor educator and climbing guide said, “Left the bike up north, caught a ride Boise, put on a suit and am headed to interim Energy, Technology and Environment Committee meeting.
“However,” he added, vowing to finish his Idaho end-to-ender, “I am not shaving my face until I get to Nevada!”
TRAILS — State Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, who was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in November, is attempting to hike a 950-mile route the length of Idaho in about 40 days.
“Why did you run?” we asked the mountain climbing guide and outdoor educator who teaches college-level physical education and leadership courses.
“Tom Luna, mainly,” he said referring to the resentment many educators have for Idaho's controversial state schools superintendent.
“More important, why are you hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail?”
“To raise awareness of trails in Idaho and as a fundraiser for the Redside Foundation, which promotes health programs for guides. Outfitters have their own association, but there’s not much support for the guides who work for them.”
Erpelding, who started at Upper Priest River Falls, barely had 100 miles under his belt Saturday when we caught him in Clark Fork poring over maps and protein-loading at a barbecue hosted by Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
“This is a bi-partisan effort,” he said, noting that Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, hosted him for a night at his lake place.
The route is a network of trails, roads and bushwhacking through at least 10 national forests and three wilderness areas.
“I’m getting insights on rural areas and exploring ways people can work together for Idaho,” he said.
The trail isn’t for sissies. “The Upper Priest River trail is amazing through the cedars,” he said. “But in other places the Centennial Trail is poorly marked or nonexistent. Road-walking isn’t fun, and you can go more than 20 miles on ridges without water.”
Despite devoting 10 hours to a 13-mile navigation error over White Mountain, Erpelding, 38, had covered 220 miles in 10 days as of Wednesday.
“Crossed the Selkirks, Cabinets, and some of the Bitterroots,” he posted on Facebook. “Only had to get my bear spray out once and realized that I needed a much bigger can. Bad news: I hurt my left calf; gonna take a rest in Mullan and see if I can get it up to speed.”
Erpending guided climbers in Colorado and on Rainier this summer. He’s also guided five climbs on Denali, although he had to back out of an expedition last summer: “It conflicted with the Idaho primaries,” he said.
Beyond his priorities for education and equality, he wants to spotlight the value of trails for local economies.
“But it does not good to overstate the problems,” he said. “About the same time Hurricane Sandy was trashing the East Coast, Idaho legislators were calling trail neglect in the Frank (Church Wilderness) a ‘national disaster.’ We’re not going to get much credibility with that perspective.”
Trail conditions in the Frank aren’t his top concern for this trek: “Right now the route in the wilderness is closed because of fires.”
His deadline is Oct. 4 – he’s the keynote speaker for the Idaho School Counselors convention in Boise.
“I’ll do the best I can to finish the trail,” he said.
Last question: Is that blood all over your sleeping ground cloth?
“Huckleberries,” he said. “The North Idaho woods are full of them; and the bears know it.”
PUBLIC LANDS — Federal lands belong to every U.S. citizen, but the Idaho Legislature is attempting, and perhaps wasting a lot of time and money, to take charge of lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies.
On Friday, Aug. 9, the Idaho Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee will hold its first hearing to consider a process for the controversial proposal to acquire title to all federally administered public lands in Idaho.
The Interim Committee was established through House Concurrent Resolution 22, enacted by the Idaho Legislature in April demanding that the federal government “imminently transfer title” to more than 33 million acres of public lands in Idaho.
The hearing will be webcast live online. (Under Committees/Locations, click on Venues, then on EW42)
WHAT: Federal Lands Interim Committee Meeting
WHEN: Friday, August 9, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. (MDT)
WHERE: Idaho Capitol, Room East Wing 42 (EW42), Lower Level, 700 W Jefferson St, Boise
WHO: Members of the Interim Committee from the Senate include Sens. Winder (Co-Chair), Davis, Tippets, Nuxoll and Stennett. Representatives on the Committee include Reps. Denney (Co-Chair), Moyle, Anderson, Hartgen and Burgoyne.
See the agenda.
See reaction from the Idaho Conservaton League:
PUBLIC LANDS — Idaho state lawmkers supporting House Concurrent Resolution 22 say they don’t intend to sell off the federal land, but to manage it more efficiently.
Many people in the realm of recreation are not fond of the idea of the state — not widely acclaimed as a perfect public land steward — taking over land currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
The resolution’s premise is that the federal government broke its promise to the states to dispose of all its lands and give the states 5 percent of the revenue.
Most legal scholars agree that the federal government had the right to change its mind, but there is a minority view that the states’ claim may be held as constitutional. That view passed the Utah Legislature last year, catching the interest of lawmakers in Arizona, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Read on for the details in an Associated Press story originating from the Idaho Statesman.
PARKS — Idaho’s state parks are staying open thanks in part to thousands of volunteers, the state’s parks chief told lawmakers this morning.
See S-R reporter Betsy Russell's story on the hurdles Idaho parks are facing.
PUBLIC LANDS — In another example of their self-centered approach to the outdoors and the world, Idaho lawmakers are suggesting they are going to waste state time and money making a stab and taking over federal lands within Idaho's borders.
You're not expecting public support on this, are you?
Click “continue reading” to see the Associated Press report on Monday's Statehouse meeting in Boise.
WILDLIFE — Idaho's bighorn sheep are coveted by hunters, only a handful of which are allowed to hunt them each fall.
They are a prize for wildlife viewers and a symbol of the wildness that set's Idaho apart from much of the world.
Yet Idaho lawmakers have turned their backs on efforts to keep bighorns separated in their native range from domestic sheep, which can transmit diseases that have decimated bighorn herds in areas such as Hells Canyon.
Outdoor columnist Rocky Barker has this sensible insight on the issue, pointing out that it really wouldn't be too hard for Idaho's governorn or other lawmakers to give bighorns a better shake.
Meanwhile, as a recent SR story points out, sportsmen's groups are largely alone in trying to fund Washington State University research looking into preventing the domestic livestock transmission of diseases that are devastating wild sheep herds.
Read on for the details.
OFF-ROAD VEHICLES — Idaho recently came within an eyelash of stripping the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of the authority to regulate the use of all-terrain vehicles on public land during hunting seasons.
An editorial in the Idaho Mountain Express notes that if the state Senate had not stopped a measure that had been approved by the House, Fish and Game would have had no say on where hunters could operate ATVs during big-game hunting seasons.
That would have been a big mistake, the opinion piece suggests.
Read on for the editorial's reasoning.
Click here for the Idaho Fish and Game Department's web page on ATV issues.
Two bills of interest to outdoor recreationists have died in the Idaho Legislature.
CYCLING — The mantra of less government control in Idaho apparently doesn't apply to bicyclists.
An Idaho representative wants to forbid bicyclists from riding two abreast as part of a bike-safety measure that would also require drivers to maintain a three-foot distance from cyclists when passing.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Rep. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian suggested adding the two-abreast ban to the bill before it was sent to the House for amendments on an 8-4 vote.
Its sponsor, Rep. Roy Lacey of Pocatello, hopes to make it safer for non-motorized transportation on Idaho’s roadways.
Lacey’s measure also covers pedestrians, joggers, wheelchairs and horses.
Not everybody was supportive.
House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke cited an existing law requiring motorists to exercise due care when passing.
But Kurt Holzer, a Boise attorney and cyclist, says this bill helps define just what “due care” means.
HUNTING — Idaho sportsmen's opposition may have swayed the close vote to stop a bill to give landowners big-game tags they could sell. But another vote on a similar bill is brewing.
Senate Bill 1282, sponsored by Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, would allow private landowners to receive and sell “special incentive tags” for deer, elk and antelope if they first negotiate public access agreements with the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
The bill languished in the Senate Resources and Environment Committee for weeks but was given new life — and likely a vote this week — when a similar piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, died on the Senate floor, the Lewiston Tribune reports.
The vote was close: 17-17, with the decision to fail the effort made by the tiebreaker.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission chose to support Brackett's bill even thought it formally opposed Siddoway’s version, report's Tribune outdoor writer Eric Barker.
Read on for details from Barker's story.
FISHING/HUNTING — Speakers will provide updates on Idaho Legislature activity of interest to hunters and anglers, as well as an update on the spring chinook salmon forecast at the monthly Sportsman's Breakfast in Lewiston on March 6.
Other presentations will cover big game issues and enforcement highlights.
The Clearwater Region of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will provide coffee and doughnuts.
The meeting begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Fish and Game office, at 3316 16th Street in Lewiston.
The meeting is open to anyone interested in wildlife and is designed to stimulate informal discussion about local wildlife issues.
Info: (208) 799-5010.
HUNTING — The Idaho Senate, in a rare 17-17 tie vote, killed a bill that sought to allow landowners to sell special hunting tags they receive because their properties provide important habitat for deer, elk, or pronghorn.
The measure that died Wednesday was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican rancher from Terreton.
Currently, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission allows eligible landowners to participate in drawings for “Landowner Appreciation Tags.”
According to the Associated Press, Siddoway wanted to allow landowners the chance to cash in on these controlled hunting tags by letting them sell them to other hunters, at any price they negotiate.
The bill raised concerns that Siddoway sought to extend to landowners like himself a lucrative new option that violates the spirit of Idaho’s hunting legacy — preserving opportunities for everyone, not just the privileged, the Associated Press reported.
See details in a blog post by Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman.
STATE PARKS — The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is launching a new program that allows vehicle owners to voluntarily pay a $10 fee when they register their cars that gives them access to 30 state parks in an effort to raise money for the embattled agency, the Associated Press reports.
Director Nancy Merrill hopes the idea, modeled after a successful program in Michigan, will alleviate financial pressure on her agency that has been mounting since Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter moved to wean it from taxpayer support two years ago.
Idaho Parks and Recreation currently offers a similar annual parks pass, but it now costs $40 and raises only $800,000 annually. Merrill is banking on the reduced price — and access to a much-broader audience through Idaho’s car registration program — to help bring in an additional $1.9 million annually.
“We’ve been going through a lot of troubles and strife these last few years, and we’re now an agency reinvented,” Merrill told the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday. “We’re seeking a dedicated funding source. It would move us toward a long-term sustainable process.”
Read on for more details from the AP.