- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Both hunting groups and conservationists in Idaho are frustrated with votes by both of the state’s Republican senators on a budget resolution the groups say is a first step to federal land transfer or sale.

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both voted late last month to establish a procedure for selling, exchanging or transferring to the states federal lands.

“I’m really disappointed,” said Holly Endersby, of Riggins, the Idaho chapter representative for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “I expected better from both of our senators. We’re working to protect public lands and this amendment says, no matter what we come up with, sometime in the future it could all be undone.”

Crapo told the Idaho Statesman (https://bit.ly/1y4CsOK) in a story on Wednesday that he’s against selling public lands. But he also said Western states have an unfair deal on federal public land within their borders.

“The question of state involvement in federal lands is very appropriate,” Crapo said. “People who read any more into this are stretching what this is about.”

But Endersby disagreed.

“The bill actually does forge a path for future legislation to transfer public lands to state and local governments,” Endersby said. “It’s the actual wording of the bill that matters.”

Risch declined to comment.

Sporting groups and conservationists have been working with Crapo on an initiative called the Clearwater Basin Collaborative that’s intended to increase timber harvests while improving habitat and protecting wilderness.

“It’s sort of stunning that Sen. Crapo is jeopardizing everything he has stood for,” said John Freemuth, a Boise State University professor and public lands expert.

Endersby said Crapo’s vote won’t make her group withdraw from the Clearwater Collaborative. She disagreed with Crapo’s argument that states with a lot of public land got an unfair deal.

“The states that got the short end of the stick are the Eastern states, because they are impoverished of public land,” she said.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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