In his Monday State of the State address, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter says he’s hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will give Idaho more leeway when it comes to public land management. He says he recently gave Trump’s transition team advice about sage grouse protection and removing federal protections for grizzlies.
Otter says he’s not advocating for a state takeover of public lands – as others in the statehouse have wanted. He says he would like Idaho to further invest in the Good Neighbor Authority, a program under the Farm Bill that allows states to work in partnership with the Forest Service.
Although Idaho House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding supports the Good Neighbor Authority, he is troubled by any move the state may take to directly manage federal lands.
“It really worries me that the argument is that the state of Idaho is ready to begin to really manage public lands,” Erpelding says.
The Boise Democrat says that he predicts proposals looking to give more control of public lands to the state will meet opposition from liberal voters.
“The 300,000 people that generally vote with Democrats across the state of Idaho seem to be more energized than ever before. And so I think the community is going to come out and really push hard to protect our public lands.”
Erpelding says public lands issues will be a priority of Democrats in the current legislative session, along with healthcare and education. There are 11 Democrats in the Idaho House, and 59 Republicans.
The original version of this story did not make Rep. Erpelding's views about the Good Neighbor Authority clear. His position has been clarified.
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