Treasure Valley Residents Invited To Speak up for Idaho’s Great Outdoors on February 9th

1.28.2006
Idaho Conservation League (ICL) News Release

Idaho’s population center left out of the mix when it comes to commenting on roadless-area management

BOISE—Three groups working to save national forest roadless lands in Idaho are teaming up to give hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts in the Treasure Valley their only opportunity to provide input on how inventoried roadless areas in the Gem State will be managed in the future.

Trout Unlimited, the Idaho Conservation League and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership will host a public meeting in Boise on Feb.9 to give Treasure Valley residents a chance to learn more about Idaho’s 243 inventoried roadless areas and a chance to offer public testimony via video camera or written testimony on the issue. The meeting is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Idaho Historical Museum, 610 Julia Davis Drive, Boise. All testimony gathered at the meeting will be delivered to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s office.

Up until now, Treasure Valley residents have not had an opportunity to offer public comment on roadless area management in Idaho.

“The process put in place by the governor last year has not really been a process at all. It’s been hit-or-miss when it comes to gathering Idaho’s public input on roadless areas. And they missed the Boise area,” said Scott Stouder, TU’s Idaho roadless coordinator.

The only public comment process, which is all but complete, essentially puts the responsibility for gathering input on the shoulders of Idaho’s county commissioners. While several of Idaho’s counties have conducted meetings on the issue, the most populous counties—Ada and Canyon—have not. Even though these counties do not have inventoried roadless lands within their boundaries, many of the people living in Ada and Canyon counties visit roadless areas to hunt, fish, hike and camp. Omitting these counties from the process creates a huge void in the data the state must consider before petitioning the government under new Bush administration rules.

“We hope to fill that void and give more Idahoans a voice in how their public lands are managed,” Stouder said, noting that Idaho’s roadless backcountry is home to the best fish and wildlife habitat as well as the state’s best source for cold, clean water. “We want Treasure Valley residents to have the chance to share their concerns with the governor before he sends his recommendations to Washington.”

Kempthorne has asked the state’s county commissioners to make management recommendations to him by March 1. His recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service are due Nov. 13. Kempthorne put the current process into place late last summer after the Bush administration overturned the 2001 Roadless Rule, which provided blanket protection to all remaining roadless areas in the country. Presently, Idaho has over 9 million acres of inventoried roadless lands—more than any other state other than Alaska. That total doesn’t include designated wilderness, which is already set aside.

“Those 9 million acres are enjoyed by people from all corners of Idaho, so it makes no sense to omit the state’s largest population center from the public process,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, a conservation associate with the Idaho Conservation League in Boise. “Everyone deserves a voice in guiding the management of our public land.”

The Feb. 9 meeting will feature Jim Caswell, director of the state’s Office of Species Conservation. Caswell is in charge of compiling recommendations from the state’s county commissioners and formulating a state petition that will be forwarded to Washington. Also speaking at the meeting will be Art Talsma, a Nampa hunter and angler with extensive fish and wildlife management experience; Margaret Fuller, an avid hiker and author of several hiking books; and Holly Endersby, a backcountry hunter and angler from Riggins. James Piotrowski, president of Trout Unlimited’s Ted Trueblood Chapter in Boise, will MC the discussion. There will be a question-and-answer session after the four brief presentations, and a separate room will be provided for Treasure Valley residents to offer comment on the issue.

“We hope to provide an important arena for discussion on this issue. It’s important that all Idahoans have a chance to share their vision for public land management and their desire to see their hunting and angling heritage passed on to their children and grandchildren,” said Bill Geer of TRCP, a hunter and angler advocacy group. “Treasure Valley residents have been left out, and this meeting gives them a chance to both learn about what’s at stake and offer their thoughts to the governor.”

02.08.06 Update

The Statesman Finally Picked Up on This: "Ada and Canyon Residents Want Say in Roadless Plan"


NOTE: Media availability—All four speakers have been invited to attend a media availability session at the ICL offices, 710 N. Sixth St. (corner of Sixth and Franklin), Boise, at 3 p.m. Feb. 9. Please call Jonathan Oppenheimer at (208) 345-6942, ext. 26, for more information on this pre-event session.

Contact:
Scott Stouder, Trout Unlimited, (208) 741-0203
Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League, (208) 345-6942, ext. 26
Bill Geer, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation League, (877) 870-8722

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