Perhaps you don’t recognize the words, but they are from the opening lines of folk-singer Woody Guthrie’s song, This land is your land. In this song, Guthrie speaks of the wide open space accessible to Americans of all walks of life.
Last week, I testified before the House Resources and Conservation Committee in support of House Bill 265, a plan to allow Idaho to join an Interstate Compact on the Transfer of Public Lands. Simply put, Idaho would participate in a group with Utah and other states that would seek to transfer federal public lands to Idaho and the other states in the compact.
Opponents claim that the end game of this transfer would be to restrict the rights and access of all Americans to these lands.
They have it exactly backward.
The federal government continues it decade’s-long process of restricting access to and reducing the quality of these lands to the detriment of Idahoans and those who come to visit.
Opponents of the bill attempted to create the impression a unified group of sportsman and recreationalists oppose this move. They also suggested that the federal management of these lands had not damaged their quality.
Unfortunately for these activists, several committee members come from rural districts in Idaho and have firsthand knowledge of federal mismanagement’s impact on hunting, recreation and rural economies. Not to be overlooked was the increased fire danger from the buildup of timber and brush in Idaho’s federally managed lands.
We are past the point where, “this land is your land,” anymore. It is the property of unresponsive federal bureaucrats and it is time to change that by allowing Idahoans to manage these lands.
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