Owyhee Shows Need For State Management
by Christy Zito
The articles in the April 27th Owyhee Avalanche regarding motorized herding in the Owyhee Wilderness and the Gateway West process illustrate the need for Idaho to manage her own resources free from the heavy hand of the federal agencies
The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is the perfect example of a government agency that has become larger than the people it was created to serve. The mission statement of the BLM is as follows:
It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The irony of this statement is that those private individuals who own land in the United States have the same mission. Those who work the land and make a living there, those same individuals in the United States who provide food for at least 150 other people, beside their families, those who log, mine or other land based industries have no desire to destroy the land. That would be comparable to someone intentionally destroying the office they work in, or their residence. Why would anyone want to destroy the very thing that supports them?
It is important to remember that “public land” belongs to the public, and as a nation, that public is every person who lives here legally. The question about public land is who manages it.
Hearing the complaint from some out doors enthusiasts that the state or local officials having management control of public lands would cut them out of using the land is inaccurate. The BLM is working to take those rights away from everyone.
In a short period of time one can find many areas that federal agencies have and do plan to close. In Idaho alone Owyhee County Commissioners and other proactive people in the county have been working to prevent the closure of around 2000 miles of back road, this closure will make fire fighting and prevention more difficult and not allow hunting, hiking, fishing, or any out door recreation to take place on those lands.
It feels like just when local residents know what the plan is, the plan changes, we see this with the Gateway West transmission line, the recent changes. It is the understanding of many that there was an energy corridor in place through what is now Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, before it was a conservation area, and that when Birds of Prey was created, it was with the understanding that the energy corridor would remain in place. Today Owyhee County residents continue to battle to protect private property as routes for the transmission line, once believed to be agreed upon arbitrarily change.
The same has happened with the Owyhee Initiative. It was agreed that motorized vehicles had been, could and would be used to gather cattle, check fence, make repairs and what ever activity was necessary to be a good steward of the land. Then that agreement, was one-sidedly changed. Worse yet it only involves two or three operations. How constitutional is it to target only these two or three.
Federal bureaucracy is far too powerful. “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” This quote is attributed to Tomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine have also been said or have expressed the same opinion.
Citizens of the state, it is past time to be active in the future of your communities, we may stand by and think that the battle over public land only affects a few, that ranchers, farmers and such are the only ones that are involved, heed the warning, for the BLM to try to force high voltage power transmission lines over the homes of private property owners, it is just a matter of time before a federal agency visits your community.
If the current trend of federal control and management of over 60% of Idaho’s land and resources continues, the rural counties and communities will continue to suffer and decline. The road to receiving the federal lands will not be short, smooth, or without difficulties but we cannot let that stop us from proceeding. The citizens of Idaho possess the intelligence and fortitude to plot the path and overcome the obstacles to equality with the eastern states. The Idaho Legislature must begin putting the pieces in place and be prepared for the day when Idaho receives what was promised her.