February Land & Water Update

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At last, it’s February, and we can see the end of the wintry tunnel. The sun is brighter, the sky is (sometimes) bluer, and the Idaho legislature is in full swing – weeks ahead of the natural world in shaking off the frost and dust. There has already been movement regarding our public lands: some of it positive, and some concerning. As we cruise through the legislative session, here are some subjects to stay up to date on: 

Bills to Watch in the Idaho State Legislature

SB1051: Liability Provision for Outfitters and Guides

  • Position: Support
  • Why?: Outdoor recreation is an important part of being an Idahoan. Our outfitters and guides run small, often seasonal family businesses, and liability lawsuits can be devastating. These operations are an important part of our rural economy, but yet they are not offered the same protection from catastrophically expensive lawsuits as Idaho ski areas or similar businesses in neighboring western states. 

SB1017: Two Year Vessel Certifications and Invasive Species Stickers

  • Position: Support
  • Why?: Utilizing recreation equipment is a benefit that comes with our public lands. These adjustments to the proper registration of this equipment will make our lands more accessible and reduce complicated administrative requirements in the process of enjoying our public lands. 

SB1021: Priest Lake Outlet Control

  • Position: Oppose
  • Why?: This bill consolidates the power to approve or deny outlet structures in Priest Lake into the Legislature’s hands, taking control away from stakeholders and requiring a lengthy legislative process. The bill is in response to discomfort over a current project at Priest Lake, but citizens have already gathered a workgroup to discuss the project and resolve discontent. This bill would take the solution-making power away from quality citizen groups like this and give it to the Legislature. 

SB1049: Notices for Endowment Land Closures and Restrictions

  • Position: Support
  • Why?: This legislation will support better recreation practices on endowment lands, using signage and education to inform users about the rules. Tickets and fines will be used for enforcement – a practice that is much more effective than the current system of felonies and misdemeanors, which are rarely used and leave virtually no options for enforcement. The law will require proper posting of rules and training for enforcement officers. 

To read more about these bills, check out CVI’s 2023 Bill Tracker at https://cvidaho.org/idleg/ 

In other news outside the Idaho Statehouse…

Pitch In: Real Action You Can Take To Protect Wildlife This Winter
News sources all over Idaho are covering the impact of this year’s weather on our prized wildlife species. Winter is an especially hard time for predators and game animals alike, when resources and temperatures are low. At our blog, we address some recent headlines on wildlife and how you can do your part to help out the animals in your community as they wait out the cold.

A new study shows wildlife corridors connecting large habitat areas can help species survive
A new study has found that creating habitat corridors between large parks, such as Glacier and Yellowstone, can help species to overcome challenges of climate change and habitat loss – for hundreds of generations. While wildlife over- and underpasses will be necessary to cross roadways, most of the studied land for habitat corridors exists in the mountains and is already public lands.

City of Rocks shoots for the stars, awarded Dark Sky Certification 

Through a combination of quality outdoor lighting, public education on light pollution, and many other considerations, the City of Rocks National Reserve has received Dark Sky Park certification. Other dark sky certified areas in Idaho include Craters of the Moon National Monument and Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve.