Federal Lands

Ken Lund via Flickr

Washington County Commissioners signed off 2-1 Monday morning on three ordinances that the state attorney general’s office said are likely unconstitutional.

A new white paper from the non-profit Headwaters Economics says transferring public lands from the federal government to Western states would generate more revenue, but also comes with high economic costs.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

County commissioners from across the West, including about a dozen from Idaho, are in Washington, D.C., this week to ask members of Congress to fund a program called Payments in Lieu of Taxes.



Last Wednesday, President Trump issued pardons to Dwight Hammond, Jr. and his son Steven. The pair had been found guilty of arson of federal property after their protest against the federal government over grazing rights.

Idaho To Receive $30M In PILT Funding For 2017

Jun 28, 2017
Patrick Whittle / AP

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced yesterday Idaho will receive $30 million via Payments in Lieu of Taxes, a.k.a. PILT funding, for 2017.



Rick Bowmer / AP

Jury selection begins Tuesday in the second trial involving people who took part in last winter's armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon.

Jurors last fall acquitted occupation leader Ammon Bundy and six others who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the federal control of Western lands and the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires.

The Obama administration offered five possible plans Thursday for limiting mining on federal land in the West to protect the vulnerable greater sage grouse, but it isn't saying which it prefers.

The options range from banning new mining activity on about 15,000 square miles for up to 20 years to imposing no additional restrictions on mine locations.

The rules would affect sage grouse habitat on federal land in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

S. Hellstrom / Bureau of Land Management

As tensions mount over the occupation of a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge by an armed group, some are asking the question: Could it happen in Idaho? The Gem State has had its own arguments over the use of federal land, including the Legislature considering taking control of all the federal land within Idaho’s borders.

Idaho would have the ability to enter into an interstate compact to pursue transferring control of federal lands under a proposal making its way through the Statehouse.

House lawmakers voted 45-23 on Friday to approve setting up the compact, facing from opposition from both Republicans and Democrats worried of the bill's unintended consequences.

Miguel Vieira / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report says Idaho could lose up to $111 million a year if the state took control of its federal public lands.

The University of Idaho's Policy Analysis Group report was requested by a legislative committee tasked with studying a state takeover of federal land in Idaho. The panel will finalize its recommendation Tuesday.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow a parcel of federal land to be transferred into county ownership for use as a gun range. 

The 31-acre area is near Riggins, along the Salmon River in north-central Idaho. An act of Congress is needed because the land currently falls under the protection of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

forest, trees, snow
U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal lawsuit filed by two Idaho counties is challenging the legality of a national forest travel plan that closed off about 200 miles of trails to motorized vehicles.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by Idaho and Clearwater counties against the Clearwater National Forest.

The counties contend the forest failed to adequately coordinate with local leaders while drafting the plan and didn't consider the economic impact it could have on local communities.

Sawtooth, lands, forest
The Knowles Gallery / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers mulling the merits of taking control of millions of acres of federal land are getting mixed reviews on the plan from the public.

Proponents of a state takeover said Wednesday state management of public lands would be a critical first step to rejuvenating Idaho's logging industry and reinvigorating rural communities. Supporters also argued the state would be a better steward of the resources.

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved a resolution demanding that the federal government cede most of the public land it oversees to the state.

mountains, pine trees, forest
U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region / Flickr Creative Commons

Bonner County commissioners in northern Idaho are urging the U.S. Forest Service not to designate any more lands as potential federally protected wilderness in the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports in a story on Sunday that commissioners say there are other ways for pristine areas to be preserved.

Commissioner Mike Nielsen says Scotchman Peak needs to be protected but that wilderness protection would isolate adjacent areas where trails are groomed for snowmobile riders.

Leaders of three Native American tribes say they should have the first option if any of Idaho's 32 million acres of federal land are ever transferred to state control.

Tribal leaders were one of several interest groups to testify Monday before the Legislature's Federal Lands Interim Committee meeting. Others included ranchers, timber industry executives, environmentalists and sportsmen.

Trees, Forests
Boise State Public Radio

  A draft forest management plan is recommending making more than 25,000 acres of the Scotchman Peaks area in northern Idaho and Montana part of a federally protected wilderness.

The recommendation is part of a draft record of decision developed for the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports the new draft updates the existing 1987 plan and will guide management of the forests for the next 15 years.

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The partial shutdown of the federal government will have a direct effect on some services in Idaho, with campgrounds on federal lands closing, 850 Idaho National Guard employees furloughed and a program that helps cover food costs for impoverished pregnant women and small children threatened.

Idaho has nearly 12,000 federal employees.

Trees, Forests
Boise State Public Radio

A group of Idaho lawmakers gathers tomorrow at the Statehouse to begin weighing whether the federal government should transfer public lands to the state to manage.  The all-day meeting will include presentations from Boise National Forest Supervisor Cecilia Seesholtz, Deputy Attorney General Steve Strack and State Forester David Groeschl. He's with the Idaho Department of lands.

Deb Love / Trust for Public Lands

Idaho lawmakers continue to move forward with an attempt to get the federal government to transfer some public lands to the state. It's an issue supporters say could happen under centuries-old law. Rocky Barker covers the environment for the Idaho Statesman and has been following this debate in the statehouse.  He says Idaho is the latest western state to consider such a move.

Dead Tree Sunrise
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho counties will share more than $26 million as part of the 2012 Payment in Lieu of Taxes program or PILT. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made the announcement Thursday.

Blaine, Cassia, and Elmore counties will get the largest payments, around $2 million per county.  The payments offset losses in property taxes on nontaxable federal lands. More than 60 percent of Idaho's land is public.