Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Owyhee Initiative Legislation Will Proceed
The Owyhee Public Lands Management Act, S. 2833, was heard today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Subcommittee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) praised Owyhee Initiative Work Group members for their record of collaboration and consensus on land use. The Owyhee Initiative legislation is sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, who testified at today’s hearing. Sen. Wyden and Subcommittee members Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) participated in the questioning of witnesses from Idaho, the U.S. Department of Interior and the Forest Service. The Subcommittee held the hearing to discuss Sen. Crapo’s bill and another land management bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah). At the conclusion of the hearing, Sen. Wyden directed Senate staff to work with federal agencies, Sens. Crapo, Bennett and others to markup the legislation. “The Owyhee Initiative transforms conflict and uncertainty into conflict resolution and assurance of future activity,” Sen. Crapo testified. “Ranchers can plan for subsequent generations. Off-road vehicle users have access assured. Wilderness is established. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes knows their cultural resources will be protected. The Air Force will continue to train its pilots. Local, state and federal government agencies will have structure to assist their joint management of the region. And this will all happen within the context of the preservation of environmental and ecological health. This is indeed a revolutionary land management structure—that looks ahead to the future.” S. 2833, the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act of 2008, will protect the economic base and wild lands of Owyhee County. It designates 517,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness, while releasing 199,000 acres of wilderness study areas to full multiple use. The legislation keeps ranching operations whole through land trades and purchase agreements and offers federal protection to 316 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Owyhees.