to the editor from this week's Chronicle:
To the Editor,
To the Editor
To the Editor
Ignoring this painful truth is as futile as ignoring the effects of gravity. Doing nothing, or doing as little as may be politically expedient, leads to a very hard landing for Idaho, Idaho’s children and Idaho’s economy. We have the only solution big enough to avoid such a hard landing for our state, our children, and our nation, if Idaho, and Idaho’s leaders, will unleash our abundant resources and channel our native competitiveness.
In 2011 Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory and their state legislature launched an innovative movement to compel the transfer to the state of the nearly 70% of their lands that are locked up in federal control. This legislation provides local control and the opportunity to pay off our national debt. This legislation was passed in 2012 and now Idaho and the other western states need to follow suit with similar legislation.
The recent wild fire season gives us some idea of the amount of productive revenue burned up through federal management. In the state as reported on the FS incident web site 932,575 acres burned in Idaho. 246,000 burned in Idaho County or 26% of the total for the entire state. Total fire suppression cost in Idaho County alone was $52,000,000. A conservative estimate of timber burned in Idaho County is 1.23 Billion Board feet; at a value of $300.00 per thousand that amounts to $369,000,000.00 dollars in lost revenue to our region. If we operated under the traditional 25% model one could say the county lost $92,250,000.00 in potential revenue. These numbers do not even represent the critical loss of wildlife habit, the destruction of our wildlife with an estimated 738,000 fatalities to our animal friends, nor the estimated 12.3 million tons of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Why are we allowing this to happen to our environment and our way of life?
Leading competitiveness guru, Michael Porter, teaches, “Innovation is the central issue in prosperity.” The late Steve Jobs elaborated, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
With these lands in state control, instead of being subject to the ever-changing political whims of the latest fickle federal fancy, business innovators and employers would translate such certainty through responsible deployment of our abundant natural resources into jobs, economic-self reliance for our state, and education equality for our children.
Is this a bold innovation? Certainly. Is it possible? IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE! -- By the likes of Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and several other “western states” of their day when the federal government had controlled nearly 90% of their public lands for decades. Today, states east of Colorado have less than 5% federally controlled lands. The promise in their statehood enabling acts to dispose of their public lands, which the federal government honored, is the same promise to dispose of our public lands in our statehood formation. (For more details go to www.americanlandscouncil.org).
In times like these, Idaho’s state, local and community leaders would do well to heed the counsel of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” It’s time for Idaho’s leaders to mold the consensus of today’s western states and do the same thing that was done by earlier “western states”. Lets secure the rights and benefit of our lands and resources for Idaho, Idaho’s children and Idaho’s future. Our promise is the same as those states where the federal government did dispose of their public lands. It’s been done before! And, it truly is the only solution big enough!
Idaho County Commissioner