The transfer of federal land to Idaho is “clearly” legal and would allow rural Idaho to prosper as urban Idaho has, said Jeff Wright a systems engineer from Lowman.
Wright was among the public who testified before the Idaho Legislature’s Interim Committee on Public Land. He was joined in support for the transfer of 63 million acres of federal land to the state as proposed in a resolution passed by both houses of the Idaho Legislature by several speakers for tea party groups in the state.
Wright said he doubted the law would drive the decision and instead it would be decided by politics. That would be a debate “between tax and subsidy users and tax producers.”
Wright said the state should sell some of the land to improve the economy of rural areas. For instance, he said two-thirds of the river benches along the South Fork of the Payette River from Garden Valley to Grandjean are in federal ownership and undeveloped and the number of homes could easily be doubled in the area if the land was allowed to be sold.
On the other side, Jack Trueblood repeated the warning against state and private takeover of federal lands his father wrote in Field and Stream in 1980. He said the state couldn’t afford to manage it.
That’s because it takes federal subsidies to cover the costs of grazing and even logging, let alone recreation and habitat management.
“Someone back east is paying their taxes so we can manage the public lands in Idaho,” Trueblood said.
Attorney Forrest Goodrum said the entire proceeding was counter productive. He said people who say there is a legal basis are mistaken and leading people on.
“I suggest to you that is a false hope,” Goodrum said. “People should not be encouraged to think there is a way to get a big bonanza for the state of Idaho.”