Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has some brass to come to Idaho and tell us it should be more like Texas. His recent statement speaks volumes about who is behind the effort to strip America of its public land — and leave our hunting and fishing heritage in the wreckage. As a Republican and a Cruz supporter, I feel compelled to call him out on this very important issue that he is dead wrong on.
The senator from Texas visited Idaho just before the Republican Primary. During a press conference, he took a cheap shot at Idaho’s public land.
Sen. Cruz objected to the amount of public land in the West that is protected in national forests and other public land. While professing a love for national parks, he said the feds should get rid of national forests, saying they would be better off in private hands.
In Texas, he said, only about 2 percent of the land is in public ownership, “and we think that’s 2 percent too much.” He went on to call our western public lands heritage an “accident of history.”
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They must have some funny history books in Texas. In fact, our national forest system is the direct result of a vision and hard work, planning and collaboration, not an accident.
About 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, looked around the country and saw wildlife going extinct, habitat being destroyed and America’s natural resources being plundered. He saw the vast lands that had helped build America being laid to waste.
Roosevelt wanted future Americans to be free to live what he called “the vigorous life.” So he created a series of national forests, to be owned and enjoyed by all Americans long into the future. That included the Panhandle, the Salmon-Challis, the Clearwater-Nez Perce, the Boise and the Payette ational forests here in Idaho, lands that generations of Idahoans have grown up hunting and fishing on.
Idahoans believe in multiple-use and we believe in well-managed public lands. We greatly treasure our freedoms to enjoy the great outdoors.
Texas, however, is not a state known for valuing access, with just 2 percent of Texas being public. The only way you have access to 98 percent of Texas is if you are wealthy enough to buy your access for hunting, fishing and camping. In Idaho, you don’t need to be wealthy to have rights to access land, and that’s the way we like it.
Idaho is special. We have ready access — for any working-class millworker, young professional, farm hand or schoolteacher — to enjoy the kind of hunting and fishing most folks just dream about.
Yes, we can do more to make sure our national forests are well managed. However, selling them to the highest bidder will only lock out more Idaho families. Mr. Cruz: we Idahoans like our public lands and do not want to be more like Texas. It might not be perfect, but we’re perfectly happy with Idaho the way it is.
Jerry Bullock is a lifelong hunter and fisherman. He is a life member of the NRA, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club and Safari Club International and a member of Trout Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. He has been an Idaho resident for 38 years and lives in Blackfoot.