Letters from the West

BLM proposes Owyhee land exchange with Idaho

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to amend a resource management plan so it can exchange lands with Idaho inside six Owyhee Canyonland wilderness areas.

The change would allow 560 acres of public lands located in western Owyhee County to be exchanged. The classification change would allow the BLM and the State of Idaho to move forward in consolidating land ownerships within and adjacent to the wilderness areas, to minimize land use conflicts.

The BLM will analyze the potential environmental effects in an environmental assessment, which is not as complex as an environmental impact statement.

“The exchange would fulfill one of the original purposes of the Owyhee Initiative agreement and the wilderness designations in the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act,” said BLM Boise District Manager Jim Fincher. “It also illustrates how the ideas of the original Wilderness Act are being lived out in 2014, fifty years after that law’s signing.”

Fincher noted the ongoing support of the Owyhee County Commissioners and the Idaho Department of Lands for the Owyhee Land Exchange.