Public Lands

From the moment we first laid eyes on them, Americans have been captivated by mustangs — with their strength, their determination and their wild nature. They have been featured in countless Western paperbacks, movies and songs through the years, and we’ve named war planes and muscle cars after them.


AP Photo/John Locher

A U.S. judge in Nevada declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case against a states' rights figure, his two sons and another man accused of leading a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents during a cattle grazing dispute.

Deb Love / Trust for Public Lands

Three top candidates trying to be elected Idaho's governor in 2018 have widely different backgrounds but share similar views on managing the state's wildlife conservation and access to public lands.

Vlad Karpinskiy / Flickr Creative Commons

During Ryan Zinke’s nomination hearing in the Senate last January, he was adamant on one point:

“I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land," he replied to a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Ty Stubblefield

Ty Stubblefield self-identifies as a “red blooded conservative,” but he’s also an avid hunter who is frustrated with the Republican party’s efforts to transfer public lands out of federal control. So, he’s fighting back.

screenshot / YouTube

Passions run high in a YouTube video showing an argument between a recreationist and a private land security guard in southwest Idaho.

Screengrab / Idaho Department of Lands

The Idaho Department of Lands has released a map detailing recreation accessibility on the state's public endowment lands despite earlier political resistance from Idaho lawmakers.

According to the agency, Director Tom Schultz requested the mapping of the state-owned land after the Idaho Legislature spiked a resolution urging the department to highlight which areas are accessible for recreation.

John Locher / AP Images

The trial of six men accused of federal crimes during a standoff at a Nevada ranch divided a Las Vegas jury Monday.

The jury found two men guilty of crimes connected to the armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014. A group critical of federal land management gathered at Bundy's ranch to defy agents there to round up his cattle, which were grazing on public lands. The armed standoff ended without injuries.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

About 2,000 people gathered at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Saturday. A coalition of conservation and environmental groups organized the rally.

People traveled from all over the state to rally in support of public lands. They held signs and led chants, many dressed in hunter orange and camo.

About 60 percent of the state is owned by the federal government, a fact that was repeated several times by organizers of the event.

Idaho Division of Tourism / Flickr Creative Commons

In 1890, the brand new state of Idaho was granted more than four million acres of land by the federal government. Public education is the beneficiary of money generated from state land sales to individuals or companies. Idaho law limits these sales to no more than 320 acres in some cases and 160 acres in others.

Idaho officials are in preliminary discussions with the U.S. Forest Service on possibly buying federal public lands.

State Forester David Groeschl of the Idaho Department of Lands told Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday that the state is eyeing timberland that the federal agency has previously proposed for possible sale or exchange.

Groeschl said the state is also identifying potential Forest Service lands not previously considered for sale.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Interior Department was questioned by a senate committee Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke was pushed on several hot button land use issues -- issues he’s well acquainted with as a Montana congressman.

 

When it comes to questions about how he would manage the relationship between states and federal land managers, the greater sage grouse inevitably came up. The imperiled bird narrowly avoided landing on the Endangered Species List, but the debate over how to save the bird remains contentious.  

AP

A change in U.S. House rules making it easier to transfer millions of acres of federal public lands to states is worrying hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the West who fear losing access.

Lawmakers earlier this month passed a rule eliminating a significant budget hurdle and written so broadly that it includes national parks.

President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Interior secretary, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, voted for the rule change as did many other Republicans. The Senate would have to weigh in on public land transfers as well.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

In his Monday State of the State address, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter says he’s hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will give Idaho more leeway when it comes to public land management. He says he recently gave Trump’s transition team advice about sage grouse protection and removing federal protections for grizzlies.

 

Sally Jewell, sage grouse
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A federal district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter against the Obama administration.

In September 2015, Otter’s office filed suit against the Interior Department, arguing the federal agency illegally imposed land-use restrictions to protect the imperiled sage grouse. Now – a year and a half later – U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the lawsuit.

Rick Bowmer / AP Images

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made her final stop in Boise Tuesday during her last month as an Obama administration official. Jewell was briefed by wildfire officials at the National Interagency Fire Center about a landmark policy she put in place during her tenure.

Andrew Selsky / AP Images

Earlier this week, President Obama created two national monuments. The newly preserved land is in Utah and Nevada. But before the transfer of power to President-elect Trump January 20, Obama could also designate 2.5 million acres of land near the Idaho border. 

 

Richard Drew / AP Images

According to the Washington Post, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been tapped to lead the Interior Department under Donald Trump. The cabinet position oversees key agencies pertinent to life in the West, including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to announce his picks for his administration, one cabinet position that could directly affect Idaho remains unfilled.

The Secretary of Interior oversees the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two agencies that can be the focal point of anger from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

A new legal analysis from a group of Western attorneys general casts doubt on many of the arguments Utah has put forward in its push to gain control of millions of acres of federal land.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

After an hour-long fundraiser with Trump supporters in Boise, the eldest child of presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke briefly to reporters Thursday. Wearing jeans and cowboy boots, Donald Trump Jr. made his love of western states known.

“I love the West," says the New York businessman, "I love the western states, I’m a big outdoorsman. I was always drawn to this part of the world and I’m just excited to be here."

Federal officials have approved the first geothermal project on Idaho's public land since the 1980s.

The Times-News reports that the Burley Bureau of Land Management has given the go-ahead for Walker Ranch Energy's geothermal project, which will include a plant about 13 miles south of Malta.

The power plant will be built on private property, but up to 22 wells will be drilled on 200 acres managed by the Burley BLM office. The operation is expected to eventually produce 25 megawatts of energy.

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!  

We asked, and you provided. Earlier this week we put out a request to our audience to send in their favorite memory from one of the 58 national parks in the U.S. Turns out, ya'll *love* national parks. (Some of us at BSPR even shared our best vacay pics.) 

So without further ado, below are your photos, videos, memories -- and even a painting! -- gratefully shared with the world. Thanks for contributing to our "birthday gift!"

Legislature Live screenshot

A packed meeting at the Idaho statehouse this afternoon focused on the hot topic of federal lands. The House and Senate resource committees convened to welcome speakers from Utah advocating that public lands be transferred from the federal government to Western states. The meeting did not include any public testimony.

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