Idaho and Western states outpace the federal government in providing access to lands for recreation, a new report released Wednesday by the Idaho Freedom Foundation reveals.
The report, titled Access Divided: State and Federal Recreation Management in the West, shows federal land agencies often struggle to meet or even establish recreation management goals, and that state land agencies have often found innovative ways to accommodate recreational demands while meeting their fiduciary responsibilities.
Additionally, the report says state park agencies often generate more revenue from visitors than federal land agencies, providing park managers with incentives to provide the type of recreational experiences visitors desire.
Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum offered more context for the report’s findings. “The comparison of federal and Idaho management of public recreation land is further evidence that Idaho is ready to step up to the plate and take on greater management of all public lands,” Birnbaum said Wednesday.
Matt Anderson, policy analyst for the Sutherland Institute's Coalition for Self Government in the West, said the report bolsters the growing consensus that states should have more say in how lands within their borders are managed.
"States know how to manage their lands for recreation and they do a good job at it, so the whole argument that the public will not be able to recreate on transferred federal lands simply isn't true," Anderson said.
The report is a joint effort of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, the Utah-based Sutherland Institute and the Property and Environment Research Center, a nonprofit think tank based in Bozeman, Montana.