By Eric Oliver, Conservation Fellow
Last Monday, Governor Brad Little kicked off Idaho’s 2020 legislative session with his State of the State Address. Few moments offer more insight into our state’s direction than this annual speech, and here at CVI, we were watching closely. Time and time again, our members tell us that the reason they live in Idaho is simple: for our outdoor heritage and unique way of life. That inspires us to get to work protecting our public lands and wildlife, promoting clean and resilient energy, and ensuring that every Idahoan has access to the ballot. As Governor Little spoke, CVI took notes. Here’s our key takeaways, in case you missed it.
“We have an obligation to keep our public lands and waterways healthy, so that future generations can enjoy them as well.”
In 2019, Governor Little voiced support for Idaho’s rich legacy of public lands, most notably declaring May 2, 2019 as Public Lands Day in Idaho. In his speech last Monday, he reaffirmed Idaho’s outdoor values stating that “our children and grandchildren will choose to stay in Idaho if they can maintain a high quality of life, including the ability to get out and enjoy Idaho’s open spaces.”
We couldn’t agree more. We also agree with him that “Idaho has chosen to lead in public land management” by investing in programs like the Good Neighbor Authority and Shared Stewardship, and we support the Governor’s decision to add capacity to these programs that allow Idaho to better work alongside the federal government in managing public lands. This work isn’t easy, but CVI agrees that when it comes to public lands, we’re stronger when we work together.
“Idaho knows how to bring together diverse interests in a common pursuit.” Let’s keep it that way.
“From Lake Coeur d’Alene to Bear Lake and Priest River to the Snake River, we are all working together – the state, tribes, local government, citizens, stakeholders, and others – to ensure our waterbodies are safe and clean.”
Water is one of our state’s most precious resources and merits the highest protection. CVI appreciates that Governor Little recognizes the many different stakeholders that have a role in protecting clean water. As climate change alters predictability of snowpack, and with it reservoir and aquifer reserves, Idaho must continue to invest in managing and understanding our water resources. Some of our state’s largest industries place great strain on our water quality, and CVI believes that Idaho must work alongside all relevant stakeholders to uphold clean water regulations and monitoring, ensuring that clean water remains accessible to all Idahoans and is abundant in our natural areas. We agree that when it comes to the water we drink, “water quality…is as important as water quantity.”
“My friends, governing is about meeting the needs of today, while not losing sight of the state we want our children and grandchildren to inherit. It is about making Idaho strong today and prepared for tomorrow.”
As our climate changes, our population grows, and open space seems less limitless than it once did, 2020 is an important moment in Idaho’s history. At CVI, we are grateful every day for the support of our members who, like us, relish living in our great state. But, as Governor Little said, Idaho does not belong to us — it belongs to future generations. It is with that fundamental tenant in mind that CVI works to invest in creating the political environment that will protect our natural environment. We stand with Governor Little’s commitment to protecting public lands; we will continue to push for ambitious clean energy commitments; we will advocate for healthy air and water for our people, wildlife and lands; and we will work boldly toward a robust democracy that values the inclusion of all Idahoans above all else. We look forward to working with Governor Little on these goals.