Utah activists and ranchers who dispute the federal government’s current role in managing public lands met for a conference dubbed “Storm Over Rangelands” in Boise Saturday.
Josh Tolley, who helped organize the event, said the events at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where four people remain occupying federal property, don’t wholly represent the federal lands question. There’s another way to address the federal lands dispute, he said.
“We aren’t here to tell people to take up arms,” he said. “We are here because property rights, grazing rights and federally managed lands are a big issue.”
The conference featured speakers who dispute the Bureau of Land Management’s approach to management.
Advocates for public lands marched earlier Saturday from the Idaho Statehouse to the Boise Centre, where the conference was held.
Katie Fite, who marched in the counterprotest and sat in on the conference, said the anti-public lands crowd was being misleading with their information.
“The whole purpose of (our) rally was to protect public lands,” she said, and went on to criticize the militants who took over the Oregon wildlife refuge. “It’s caused a tremendous amount of turmoil in their community.”
She said that the ranchers advocating for the government to back out of federal land management were a “land seizure movement.”