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Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year is National Public Lands Day.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Managing federal lands would cost Montana dearly

PUBLIC LANDS — Montana Republican lawmakers looking for votes are frittering away time and money following Idaho's lead in trying to lead the state into a takeover of federal public lands, such as national forests, Bureau of Land Management areas and national wildlife refuges.

The arguments against this crap include the fact that the states don't have the money to do it, thus they'd have to sell off the lands or turn them over to private interests. 

That's not in the public interest.

Cost of Montana's management of federal lands estimated at $500 million
Should Montana assume responsibility for the estimated 25 million acres of federal lands that lie within its borders, and while state lands managers are working on what they believe such a transfer of control would cost, the Billings Gazette takes a stab at the computation and comes up with half a billion dollars. This is just one installment in a three-day series by Montana newspapers on the state's proposal to assume control of federal lands.

Also see:

Recreating on the national forest

Ranchers cautions about state takeover of federal land

Recreationists conflicted about federal land transfer

Author: Montanans value outdoor amenities

Editorial: Let's stick together to protect Montana's best wildlands

Federal lands interim committee adds seventh public hearing next month

The Federal Lands Interim Committee, a joint legislative interim committee co-chaired by Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, and Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, has scheduled a seventh public hearing, this one in Sandpoint on Sept. 12. That’s in addition to the six already scheduled over the next two months, including Sept. 11 in Kamiah and St. Maries; Oct. 9 in Idaho Falls and Soda Springs; and Oct 10 in Twin Falls and Hailey.

The move already has prompted a “jeer” from the Lewiston Tribune’s editorial page that Denney “just happens to be making a series of statewide swings at taxpayer expense, right in the middle of campaign season, including stops next month in Kamiah and St. Maries.” Denney, former speaker of the House and current House resources chairman, is running for Idaho Secretary of State; he faces Democrat Holli Woodings in the November election.

Denney said, “We thought that it was important that the people have their say in what they think about the state taking over title to the federal lands. And that was certainly always the plan – last year was to be fact-finding, this year was more public hearing.”

Winder, Denney’s co-chairman, said, “We have to report back to the 2015 session. So in trying to coordinate schedules, it was very difficult to get anybody to where we could get like two days together, actually going back to July or August.” Denney said the pre-election timing “wasn’t my choice,” saying, “I would like to have started way earlier, because it’s going to take time away from me right when I think I need it most in the campaign. … I think it was just logistics.”

Asked why the panel is heading to small towns like Soda Springs, Kamiah and St. Maries, Denney said, “A lot of the people who want to come and testify are from these more rural areas, and why make them travel? … They always have to travel.”

Winder said the Sandpoint session was added at the request of Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, who said her constituents “felt like it was too far to go to St. Maries to testify.”

The panel is charged, during its two years, to “undertake and complete a study of the process for the state of Idaho to acquire title to and control of public lands controlled by the federal government.” It’s already spent more than $41,000 on legal fees to Bill Myers, a Boise attorney and former solicitor general for the Department of the Interior, whom it hired to advise it.  

Winder said, “We’re already pretty confident that from a legal perspective, we don’t stand on very firm ground if it were a matter of litigating. But we do think there are alternatives available to us in existing laws and potential for congressional changes in how the states interact with the federal agencies that manage public lands. … We think it’s worth the effort.”

ORVer displays ignorance of what’s spoiling his sport

OFF-ROADING — I recently received an email from a gutless reader dissing me for a column I wrote about ORVer's who ride on private property — notably Mica Peak — without permission, as well as on public lands where riding off designated roads is illegal.

I call the person “gutless” because he/she has taken the liberty to call me a moron without having the courage to identify himself/herself more specifically than “Dusty.”

Here's his/her beef:

I just stumbled across your blog entry/story.

Really? That's some seriously objective writing style you have.

And a shot of a couple bikes riding past a small, PRIVATELY PLACED “NO TRESPASSINGsign does not indicate a crime — nor an error in land ethics - in progress.

I happen to ride up (on Mica Peak) from time to time, and the only “problem” I've encountered are people who seem to think they can dictate their own personal land use rules to us.

The people I ride with are local and know where and where not to ride. Our bikes use Forest Service approved spark arresters, and we ride with care, making sure to have as little impact on the land as possible.

And dirt bikers have been using that area for decades, and are responsible for the creation of most of the area's trails.

So please spare us the faux outrage and keep your ill-advised and opinionated blog posts to yourself, moron!

—Dusty

I offered this reply two weeks ago, but Dusty has not responded:

Dusty:

Did you ever ask the landowners for permission to ride on that Mica Peak land and create those trails you mention?

Tell me the truth.  Because if you did the landowners lied to me.  

And what about those “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” signs on the gates to Inland Empire Paper Co. lands? Does that mean you, or is it just my unobjective interpretation?

There's a very good chance you don't have a clue Dusty.

Read the story linked to that blog and learn why dirt bikers are losing places to ride right and left. 

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year links to the National Park Service birthday.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

BLM bans campfires on its Eastern Washington lands

PUBLIC LANDS —  Extreme fire danger has prompted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to join Washington state agencies in prohibiting campfires in Eastern Washington, including in developed recreation areas.

The federal agency's fire managers enacted initial fire restrictions in mid-July. Today they updated the restrictions to prohibit the building, maintaining, attending or using a fire of any type, including charcoal briquette fires on lands administered by the BLM’s Spokane District.

An exemption is made for liquefied and bottled gas stoves and heaters provided they are used within an area at least 10 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

The updated fire restriction will be effective beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2014.

The fire restrictions apply to all BLM managed lands in the following Eastern Washington counties: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima counties. Restrictions are in place until further notice.

In addition to prohibiting campfires, restrictions on the use of off-road vehicles, smoking, shooting of exploding targets and the use of fireworks is still in effect. A complete, signed fire restriction order can be found at the following websites: 

Fire, fireworks restricted or banned from public lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Campfires, fireworks and exploding targets are prohibited outside of designated sites on state and federal lands. Agencies are emphasizing those rules in a large-scale fire prevention effort on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday.

Generally speaking, campfires are allowed only in fire pits at developed campgrounds in national parks, most national forests and all state lands. 

Fireworks and exploding targets enjoyed by shooters are banned.

Even shooting at normal targets is banned on some state wildlife areas in Central Washington.

Groups help state acquire Plum Creek lands in Cascades

PUBLIC LANDS — The Nature Conservancy has purchased 1,280 acres of timberland from Plum Creek in the Manastash area west of Ellensburg, and transferred it to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to be managed as part of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area.

This acquisition is the most recent in a decade-long project to eliminate a “checkerboard pattern” of public and private land and create large blocks of public lands in the Cascade Mountains.

Partnerships including the state agency, TNC, the Yakama Nation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have brought more than 25,000 acres of private timberlands into public ownership as part of the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative.

The program assures public access to these lands as it heads off the possibility of the timber company selling the properties to private interests that could install locked gates.

“These particular sections are full of streams and tributaries that flow into the Yakima River,” TNC says in a media release. “Conserving this forest will protect valuable river habitat for wildlife as well as ensure water downstream for people, fish, and the rich agriculture of the Yakima Valley.

Plum Creek has played an important role in keeping these forests intact while the Conservancy brought together financing to bring them into public ownership.

  • “Protecting the streams and forests in this region supports the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Plan, assuring water for people, salmon, wildlife and farms into the future,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy.
  • “Plum Creek recognizes the public benefits of this project and is pleased to participate in the partnership that achieved this important conservation outcome,” said Jerry Sorensen, senior director of land management for Plum Creek.
  • “Together, we’re ensuring that the public will continue to have access to this land for fishing, hunting, hiking and camping,” said Mike Livingston, Southcentral Region director for WDFW. “This diverse habitat supports threatened and endangered species such as bull trout, steelhead, spotted owls and wolves, as well as big-game such as mule deer and elk.”

The Washington Department of Ecology provided funding for this project through its Office of Columbia River.

Unmanned aircraft banned from national parks

PUBLIC LANDS — National Park Service lands across the United States, including the agency's national recreation areas such as Lake Roosevelt, are being ordered to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters, according to a policy memorandum to park superintendents signed today by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care,” Jarvis said. “However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.

Unmanned aircraft have already been prohibited at several national parks. These parks initiated bans after noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, an incident in which park wildlife were harassed, and park visitor safety concerns. For example:

Last September, an unmanned aircraft flew above evening visitors seated in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheater. Park rangers concerned for visitors’ safety confiscated the unmanned aircraft. 

In April, visitors at Grand Canyon National Park gathered for a quiet sunset, which was interrupted by a loud unmanned aircraft flying back and forth and eventually crashing in the canyon. Later in the month, volunteers at Zion National Park witnessed an unmanned aircraft disturb a herd of bighorn sheep, reportedly separating adults from young animals.

  • The video below shows one of many ways drones and cameras have been used in national parks.

The policy memorandum directs park superintendents to take a number of steps to exclude unmanned aircraft from national parks. The steps include drafting a written justification for the action, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, and providing public notice of the action.

The memorandum does not affect the primary jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration over the National Airspace System.

The policy memorandum is a temporary measure. Jarvis said the next step will be to propose a Servicewide regulation regarding unmanned aircraft. That process can take considerable time, depending on the complexity of the rule, and includes public notice of the proposed regulation and opportunity for public comment.

The policy memo directs superintendents to use their existing authority within the Code of Federal Regulations to prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft, and to include that prohibition in the park’s compendium, a set of park-specific regulations.

All permits previously issued for unmanned aircraft will be suspended until reviewed and approved by the associate director of the National Park Service’s Visitor and Resource Protection directorate. The associate director must approve any new special use permits authorizing the use of unmanned aircraft. Superintendents who have previously authorized the use of model aircraft for hobbyist or recreational use may allow such use to continue. 

The National Park Service may use unmanned aircraft for administrative purposes such as search and rescue, fire operations and scientific study. These uses must also be approved by the associate director for Visitor and Resource Protection.

50 years after Wilderness Act: still much to discover

PUBLIC LANDS — Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964 is full of eye-opening insights.

QUIZ:

The Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexico border through California, Oregon and Washington to the Canada border passes through how many official wilderness areas?

  • Three
  • Nine
  • 12
  • 48

The answer is at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, most people associate wilderness areas with national forests.  But the Forest Service isn't the only federal agency that manages officials wilderness, which can be in national parks as well as lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the  U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM manages 245 million acres in the U.S., primarily in the West (in addition to administering 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate). Of that land, 27 million acres are managed as national conservation lands including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic RiversNational Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert. 

BLM manages 8.7 million acres in 221 units as wilderness, with no roads and no motorized vehicles or mechanized equipment allowed.

Check out the video below featuring BLM staffers explaining the basic question:  “What's Wilderness?” See more videos of young BLM staffers exploring Utah wilderness here

Answer: 48.

Groups highlight trail projects past and future

PUBLIC LANDS – Volunteer trail projects past and future will be highlighted in a program by the Spokane Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association on Monday, June 17, at 7 p.m., at the Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield.

“The Mountaineers have a long history of giving back to our local trails,” said Lynn Smith, the club’s trail-maintenance program coordinator. “Whether working on our own or in conjunction with other organizations, we understand that stewardship goes hand-in-hand with recreation, and volunteers are a crucial part of the process – especially in this era of shrinking budgets.”

More projects are planned this year in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, he said.

Colville Forest starts planning ORV trail system

PUBLIC LANDS — The Colville National Forest is moving ahead with a 10- to 15-year project to plan off-road vehicle trails and relocate camping areas to serve the motorized trail groups while rehabilitating the impacts illegal OHV use has had on streams, meadows and wildlife habitat.

  • A timeline of documents regarding the South End Project has been posted on the forest website.

The Decision Notice describes the selected alternative (Alternative 3) and provides the rationale of why the Forest Service selected this alternative. The chosen alternative includes designation of new off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes, restoration of campsites currently causing resource damage, development of parking areas, and an adjustment of the boundaries of management areas in the Colville National Forest Plan. 

“This decision will designate a system of roads and trails that create quality loops, connects communities, and provides for better access and increased opportunities for off-highway vehicles, while protecting natural and cultural resources,”  said Laura Jo West, Colville National Forest Supervisor.  “Once the new routes are added to the Colville National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map they will be a great addition to ride and enjoy.”

The project area includes all or parts of Ruby, Cusick, Tacoma, Twelvemile, Monaghan, Indian, Addy, Leslie, Bayley, Chewelah, Thomason, Cottonwood, Smalle, Winchester and Calispell creek drainages on the Colville National Forest northwest of Newport. 

 “With such a large project area and a number of restoration efforts needed this project will be phased in over the next 15 years,” said Franklin Pemberton, forest spokesman. “Each potential route requires a safety analysis and a one year monitoring period to ensure there is no unauthorized use before being officially designated as open on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM).

  • Go here to see details of the forests travel management plan and view the MVUM and maps.

It is important to understand that until some important restoration and safety analysis work can be completed, the new routes will not be open to the public.  

An implementation team will meet twice each year.  In the spring, they will determine the roads to be added in the following year.  During the summer, each new route will undergo a safety evaluation and be surveyed for user created OHV routes.  In the fall, they will review monitoring, and roads that meet the criteria will be put on the MVUM for the following year.  To be put on the MVUM, a route must not have any new user-created OHV routes.  The first group of routes to be designated will connect the communities of Chewelah, Cusick, and Usk.  

 In addition to the new routes, an important restoration effort at Phillips Lake will help restore some previous damage.  During the restoration of Phillips Lake, there will be walk-in access only.  A gate will be placed on the road into the lake and limited parking available.  The restoration includes blocking all user created OHV trails, blocking the wetland areas with rocks, and defining parking and camping areas. 

 The Forest is working towards restoration of campsites to define parking and reduce compacted areas.  Work in Ruby, Tacoma, Cusick, and Calispell is expected to occur next summer with the goal of designated camping along high use areas.

 The OHV Ambassador program is being developed with interested parties.  Formal agreements are being developed.  The OHV Ambassador program involves volunteers riding through the area and interacting with visitors to keep the OHV experience enjoyable. 


Documents:

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year is National Get Outdoors Day.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Are state efforts to grab federal lands sincere?

PUBLIC LANDS — Cutting through the facade of state's rights land grab efforts…

Utah's quest for federal public lands a simple fundraising ploy
Given the mild response from the members of the Utah Federalism Commission to an assistant attorney general's announcement that the state does not intend to pursue a lawsuit to make the federal government hand over management of its lands as required under the 2012 Utah Transfer of Public Lands act, they're aware that the legislation, as well as Rep. Ken Ivory's work and that of his American Lands Council, are designed to collect votes and cash, and not about seeking a solution to an actual problem.
—Salt Lake Tribune

Seattle treasure hunters fouling Yellowstone Park

PUBLIC LANDS — For God's sake, get a clue.

Yellowstone Park rangers rescue, cite treasure hunters twice
On April 27 and again on May 9, rangers from Yellowstone National Park had to rescue treasure hunters from Washington state who were ill-equipped for their treks into the park's back country seeking the $1-million “Forrest Fenn Treasure,” which a poem in the Santa Fe, N.M. art dealer's 2010 memoir allegedly contains nine clues to the hidden treasure.
—Jackson Hole News & Guide

Idaho’s federal lands panel hires private attorney

A legislative interim committee investigating prospects for state takeover of federal public lands has spent more than $40,000 on a private attorney, the AP reports, tapping into a new legislative legal defense fund. “We've hired legal counsel from outside of state government primarily because we didn't feel as the Legislature that we were getting the help that we needed from the attorney general's office, once they determined the legal prospects of the case against the federal government on this didn't have much merit,” said Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise. “They didn't give us a whole lot of imagination or creativity on what the political solutions might be. So we've gone to an expert attorney … to use his background and expertise to help us with this process.”

Committee member and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said she was disappointed the panel was not informed that private attorney William Myers was being considered before his hiring. “I think it was done rather hasty without letting the rest of the committee know,” she told the Associated Press. “But they're using taxpayer money. I would have preferred for them to be more transparent.” Click below for a full report from AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi.

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up.

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Bedke joins Utah public lands summit

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke was among 50 politicians from nine states who gathered at the Utah state Capitol on Friday to discuss ways states can take over management of federal lands, reporter Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News reports.  “It’s time the states in the West come of age,” Bedke said. “We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado.”

The Idaho Legislature has an interim committee studying the issue; it also passed a resolution in 2013 demanding that federal lands in Idaho be transferred to the state. You can read Richert’s report here; the Salt Lake Tribune has a full report here.

Not a hero: Rancher’s federal land grab all about greed, arrogance

UPDATED 3:18 p.m. to properly attribute Taylor quote.

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Rep. Matt Shea has ridden out of his Spokane Valley district on his white horse to save us from the overpowering federal government as he stands in lock-step with a Nevada rancher who's stolen more than $1 million in grazing favors from public land.

Whom will Shea stand up for next? The guy who says he has a Constitutional right to rob the Post Office?

Shea says he was compelled to back Cliven Bundy as he joined Rep. Dave Taylor for a trip to the Bundy Ranch. As Taylor put it,“If we don’t stand up for our neighbors, there won’t be anybody left when they come for us.”

The confrontation stems around a Nevada rancher who doesn't recognize the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as the owner of the public land he wants to graze his cattle on. Bundy has declined to pay about $1 million in fees while he lets his stock run amock where law abiding ranchers don't.

Trouble is, the BLM isn't the only voice saying Bundy is breaking the law.  So have the courts, twice.  

The courts, at last check, are our nation's way of settling points of law.

BLM backed away from confiscating Bundy's cattle — seizing the stock was authorized by a judge — when supporters came in and posed the climate for a violent confrontation.

So where do we go from here?  

The public owns the land, not the rancher. If every man who fabricates a disagreement with the government decides to run his cattle — or cuts his trees, builds his roads, kills his game, nets his fish, or fires up his bulldozer — the way he sees fit, the American icon of public land will be lost.

That, Mr. Shea, is what's worth standing up for.   Not one man's greed and selfishness, but rather the rule of law and the overwhelming advantages of regulated public land.

BLM regroups in confrontation with deadbeat rancher’s grazing

PUBLIC LANDS — A Nevada rancher who owes the federal government more than $1 million in fees for illegally grazing cattle on U.S. Bureau of Land Management has won a temporary reprieve by summoning a protest by his right-winger brethren, some of which were armed militia-types.

IS this this future: The most heavily armed among us can take over public lands?

Nevada rancher's standoff with BLM re-energizes old debate
Time Magazine examines the Bureau of Land Management's conflict with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and what precedent the federal agency's decision to call off the gathering of Bundy's cattle illegally grazed on federal lands for the past two decades will set.
—Time.com

Click continue reading for the latest story on the confrontation from the Associated Press:

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a couple of fee-free access days coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The first freebie date of the year links to National Parks Week.

Following is a list of other free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Bighorn sheep gain ground in grazing lawsuit

PUBLIC LANDS — Good news for bighorn sheep, which have been squeezed and put at risk even on public lands in Idaho.

Judge upholds USFS's plan to reduce grazing to save bighorn
On Tuesday, Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, issued a decision that upholds the U.S. Forest Service's plan to reduce grazing by 70 percent in the Payette National Forest in Idaho to protect bighorn sheep from contracting diseases from domestic sheep.
— Idaho Statesman 

Washington to offer free entry at state parks

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Parks have a fee-free access day coming up. 

Here's the list of 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for vehicle entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Remember, Mount Spokane is a notable exception during winter season, when the Discover Pass is not valid. Until April 1, visitors are required to have a Sno-Park vehicle permit at Mount Spokane unless you are a patron of the alpine ski area on days the ski area is open.

Federal land fee-free entry days also are scheduled in 2014 to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged. 

Public fishing access proposed at Chapman Lake

FISHING  – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is inviting public comment through March 21 on a proposal to acquire and develop public access to Chapman Lake in Spokane County.

Once a popular fishing spot, the 128-acre lake near Cheney has been inaccessible to the public since 2011, when a private resort that provided access to the lake was closed.

Since then, WDFW has provided limited management of kokanee, trout and other fish species in the lake to keep the fishery going for the day the public can have access to it again.

John Whalen, WDFW Eastern Regional Fish Program Manager, said the property owner recently contacted the department and signed a letter of intent to sell 80 acres to the department so that public access and fishery management could be restored.

The property is surrounded on three sides by Washington Department of Natural Resources land. Besides providing boat access to the lake, the proposed acquisition would connect these public lands, helping to conserve Ponderosa pine forest and riparian habitat for wildlife and provide public access to hunting and wildlife viewing.

Details about the proposed Chapman Lake access acquisition are available for review at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/acquisitions/.

Comments may be submitted by March 21 via email to teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov.

Read on for more details about WDFW acquisitions:

Boulder-White Clouds proposal to go to from Idaho to Obama

PUBLIC LANDS —  Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho near Ketchum plan to finalize a resolution supporting a central Idaho national monument by Tuesday.  

The Idaho Mountain Express reports  that commissioners set that date so Commission Chair Larry Schoen can hand deliver the resolution backing a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument in person when he visits Washington, D.C., for a conference in early March.  
 
An effort to create three wilderness areas in the region while also releasing other lands from wilderness study areas have so far failed, prompting conservation groups to lobby the Obama administration to establish a national monument.  
 
Most of the proposed 571,000-acre monument would be in Custer County. Commissioners there oppose creating a monument, as do commissioners in nearby Lemhi County.

Public lands a starting point of intimate romance

PUBLIC LANDS —  National parks and other public lands have been the inspiring setting for “made in America” romances, as this Department of Interior video suggests.

Plan ahead for free entry at federal, state lands

PUBLIC LANDS — Federal land managers offer free entry to parks, forests, U.S. Bureau of Land management lands, refuges and other national interest lands where fees are charged on certain holidays scattered through the year.  

  • Washington State Parks also sets dates for fee-free entry. 

The next freebie date of the year is Presidents Day Weekend, with fee-free days at all federal lands that charge an entrance fee.

Following is a list of all the 2014 free-entry dates and participating federal agencies, which vary by holiday: 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 15-17 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Park Week opening weekend, April 19-20 — National Park Service.
  • National Get Outdoors Day, June 14 — national forests.
  • National Park Service Birthday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service.
  • National Public Lands Day, Sept. 27 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests. 
  • National Wildlife Refuge Week, first day, Oct 12 — National wildlife refuges. 
  • Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — National Park Service, National wildlife refuges, national forests.

Washington State Parks also offer 11 days in which the Discover Pass is not needed for entry in 2014:

  • Jan. 19 and 20 – Martin Luther King holiday.
  • March 19 – Washington State Parks birthday.
  • April 19 – Spring Saturday Free Day.
  • April 22 – Earth Day.
  • May 11 – Spring Sunday Free Day.
  • June 7 and 8 – National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend.
  • June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – In honor of National Park Service’s birthday.
  • Sept. 27 –National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day holiday.

Read on for details about year-round free or discounted passes for military, disabled and seniors.

Montana joins Idaho, Utah in hunt for federal lands

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.