Board of Commissioners supports sportsmen’s access and outdoor recreation spending over short-term economic gain
In a meeting yesterday, the Blaine County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to formally oppose efforts to transfer or sell America’s public lands to the state of Idaho or local governments.
Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen explains that the resolution highlights the value of public lands to county residents. It also supports every American’s ability to hunt, fish, and benefit from a public lands system that is the envy of the world.
“We want that message to be crystal clear,” says Schoen. “Stakeholder groups in Blaine County have worked collaboratively, openly, and productively with the federal agencies for years on a range of issues to protect these resources and improve public access, management, and outcomes.”
The county’s resolution recognizes the importance of public lands for:
- Providing fish and wildlife with habitat, while offering opportunities for outdoor recreation—including hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife-watching, horseback riding, and bicycling—that is essential to residents’ quality of life.
- Attracting outdoor recreation tourism that drives local spending and employs hundreds of county residents.
- Preserving historically significant and irreplaceable cultural sites and landscapes.
Public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service comprise 62 percent of Idaho and 78 percent of Blaine County. These areas are cherished for their top-notch fisheries, beautiful open landscapes, and exceptional wildlife habitat, says Joel Webster, Western lands director at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “There’s no doubt that the county is doing the right thing for its residents, and all Americans, by supporting one of our nation’s greatest treasures—our public lands.”
“First Lite is a growing leader in the hunting world, and a growing outdoor business in the Wood River Valley,” says Ryan Callaghan, the hunting apparel manufacturer’s director of conservation public relations. “We have grown from an office of two to 14 employees since 2012, and I think we owe a great deal of our business to the simple fact that American outdoorsmen have so much access to public lands. We are certainly grateful that the commissioners are willing to formally oppose efforts that would take away that privilege here in Idaho.”
A growing number of Western counties in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona have recently taken formal positions to oppose the sale or seizure of America’s public lands. To learn more or take action, visit sportsmensaccess.org.