Public Lands

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to announce his picks for his administration, one cabinet position that could directly affect Idaho remains unfilled.

The Secretary of Interior oversees the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two agencies that can be the focal point of anger from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

A new legal analysis from a group of Western attorneys general casts doubt on many of the arguments Utah has put forward in its push to gain control of millions of acres of federal land.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

After an hour-long fundraiser with Trump supporters in Boise, the eldest child of presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke briefly to reporters Thursday. Wearing jeans and cowboy boots, Donald Trump Jr. made his love of western states known.

“I love the West," says the New York businessman, "I love the western states, I’m a big outdoorsman. I was always drawn to this part of the world and I’m just excited to be here."

Federal officials have approved the first geothermal project on Idaho's public land since the 1980s.

The Times-News reports that the Burley Bureau of Land Management has given the go-ahead for Walker Ranch Energy's geothermal project, which will include a plant about 13 miles south of Malta.

The power plant will be built on private property, but up to 22 wells will be drilled on 200 acres managed by the Burley BLM office. The operation is expected to eventually produce 25 megawatts of energy.

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!  

We asked, and you provided. Earlier this week we put out a request to our audience to send in their favorite memory from one of the 58 national parks in the U.S. Turns out, ya'll *love* national parks. (Some of us at BSPR even shared our best vacay pics.) 

So without further ado, below are your photos, videos, memories -- and even a painting! -- gratefully shared with the world. Thanks for contributing to our "birthday gift!"

Legislature Live screenshot

A packed meeting at the Idaho statehouse this afternoon focused on the hot topic of federal lands. The House and Senate resource committees convened to welcome speakers from Utah advocating that public lands be transferred from the federal government to Western states. The meeting did not include any public testimony.

House Approps GOP YouTube

Congressman Mike Simpson had some pointed things to say about public lands during a recent budget hearing on Capitol Hill with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

“Let me tell you why people live in Idaho," Simpson said. "They live in Idaho because they love their public lands. They like access to them for recreation, for hunting, for fishing, for all the activities that they do on public lands."

Headwaters Economics

Between 1970-2014, rural counties with a lot of federal lands did better financially than those without as much federal control. That’s according to a new study by Headwaters Economics, a non-partisan think tank based in Montana.

Economist Megan Lawson led the study which drew averages from around the West. She says federal lands aren't necessarily the reason why those rural counties were better off, but that having federal land doesn't automatically spell economic ruin.

Addison Mohler / US Fish and Wildlife Service

The occupation of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon has gone on for almost a week. The armed militants there say the refuge is a symbol of government overreach in the West. In Idaho, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge has been the subject of angst over federal regulations – but with a different outcome.

Wikimedia Commons

Since Saturday, an armed group has occupied a federal complex at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. Led by Nevada rancher Ammon Bundy, the members say they are there in large part to protest federal land management policies.

So far no violence has occurred, though some of the militants have said they are willing to die for their cause.

S. Hellstrom / Bureau of Land Management

As tensions mount over the occupation of a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge by an armed group, some are asking the question: Could it happen in Idaho? The Gem State has had its own arguments over the use of federal land, including the Legislature considering taking control of all the federal land within Idaho’s borders.

Deb Love / Trust for Public Lands

An Idaho official is trying to garner support from counties in western states to legally challenge the government's ownership of public lands.

The Lewiston Tribune reports Idaho County Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik is traveling this week with the goal of getting 100 counties to sign on to support the Western Landmark Foundation.

The foundation was formed in March with Chmelik as the registered agent. He says when 50 counties have signed up he'll start asking supporters to contribute between $3,500 and $5,000 each toward a legal fund.

Ben Amstutz / Flickr Creative Commons

Skinny Dipper hot springs was illegally built in the 1990s and now the Bureau of Land Management is dismantling the popular site.

Skinny Dipper is located about an hour outside Boise off the Banks-to-Lowman highway. The site is a half mile hike up a steep trail, and the pools overlook the Payette River.

The plan is to remove the pools and reseed the area, closing the trails in the area for five years to try and get the landscape back to a more natural state.

It's been a year since Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia supporters stood down federal agents with the Bureau of Land Management outside Las Vegas.

Bundy owes more than $1 million in delinquent cattle grazing fees and penalties, but the BLM has stayed quiet in the year since the showdown, and Bundy's supporters marked the anniversary by throwing a party.

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