“Do you believe public lands in Idaho should be controlled and managed by the state or by the federal government?” The Post Register editorialists (June 7 Statesman) were so horrified by the 73 percent support for this poll question that they had to explain it away.
Yes, the Idaho Constitution requires a “maximum long-term financial return” on state trust lands. But, sales are constitutionally limited. The 100,000 acres of state land sold since 2000 represents a tiny fraction of the 32 million acres that the federal government controls. It’d take over 5,000 years to sell off the federal lands at the rate of recent state land sales.
Federal lands transferred in the future could be managed under an amended section of the state constitution requiring management for multiple use with strictly limited sales.
The often quoted disclaimer about Idaho relinquishing future right-and-title to public lands was originally intended to give the federal government clear title so that the lands could be conveyed back to Idaho as was done in other states.
Idaho can afford to manage public lands. Federal lands are costly to oversee because of the way they are managed — by reactive, top-heavy, D.C.-based bureaucracies.
Fred Birnbaum, vice president, Idaho Freedom Foundation