Public lands: a chance to speak out

On Wednesday, Idahoans will have their say on the idea of transferring federal lands to state management.

Supporters of a lands transfer — including many Republican legislators — believe a transfer will boost Idaho’s public school endowment. The Legislature already is on record supporting a transfer, and a plan that would earmark 5 percent of proceeds from federal lands sales to the school endowment. Skeptics say the move would not pencil out to the state’s advantage.

A legislative committee is studying the lands transfer issue further, with recommendations due before the 2015 session. Legislators studying the transfer issue will take public comment Wednesday during a day-long hearing at the Statehouse’s Lincoln auditorium, on the west side of the building’s underground garden level.

  • The morning comment period will run from 9:10 to 10:30 a.m., with signups from 8:15 to 8:55.
  • The afternoon comment period will run from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., with a signup period from 12:45 to 1:25.

Testimony will be taken in order of signups.

The public lands “interim committee” will also hear from three county commissioners about a possible transfer: Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik; Valley County Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank; and Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen. A Democrat, Schoen opposes the lands transfer, and he says he wasn’t given a fair chance to make his case before the Idaho Association of Counties passed a resolution supporting a transfer.

Other scheduled speakers Wednesday include Seth Grigg of the association of counties, Jack Lyman of the Idaho Mining Association, Sandra Mitchell of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, and Will Whelan of the Nature Conservancy.

Wednesday’s hearing is slated to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Check back at Idaho Education News Wednesday for coverage of the meeting.