U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador introduced legislation Wednesday to transfer 31 acres from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to Idaho County in central Idaho for a gun range – and the BLM backs the move.
“We’re supportive of the effort,” said Suzanne Endsley, public affairs officer for the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene and Spokane districts. “There is no designated range in that area, and people are using this location anyway. From an environmental standpoint, it would be nice if it was managed a little bit better. We just don’t have the resources to go there on a weekly basis and pick up all the shells, and there is interest in the county to do a really bang-up management job.”
Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik said the county has been pushing for the range for at least six years, since before he took office.
“I think it’s a good thing for the county,” he said. “I don’t always see eye-to-eye with the BLM on a lot of issues, but when we do see eye-to-eye, I’m going to try to work together with them and work things out. They want to help us.”
Labrador, R-Idaho, has worked with the county and the agency on the issue since 2011.
Chmelik just finished an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of Idaho on a combative platform of calling for the state to demand to take over federal public lands.
Todd Winer, Labrador’s press secretary, said companion legislation in the Senate is likely to be introduced next week, and in the next few months the Senate is likely to consider some public lands spending bills that could provide an opportunity to incorporate Labrador’s measure, increasing its chances of passing both houses.
“We feel pretty confident,” he said.