Land and Water in Idaho: March Update


Every legislative session, CVI takes on fellows in order to train the next generation of Idaho’s conservation advocates. This month’s Land and Water Email was written by Legislative Fellow Elaine Zabriskie.

Conservation values still run deep in Idaho

The State of the Rockies annual report was released a few weeks ago, providing more evidence to back up what we already know: Idahoans’ top priorities are our shared lands, waters, and wildlife. The survey illustrates what I myself have been experiencing since I was a kid: the wonder of lightning storms that rolled across the Palouse in the spring, kayaking Lake Pend Oreille with my dad in late summer, watching cross country skiers make double-track trails across the hills. Every one of these memories depended on lands that were open, accessible, and managed to last for generations. 

When we look at the statistics stating that 64% of Idahoans already consider themselves conservationists and 75% support 30×30 goals – including 68% of conservative Republicans – let’s remember what our lands really mean to us. Public lands are a gift, passed down for generations to us. We now have the privilege of caring for those lands and handing them down yet again, as another link in a chain of incredible giving. 

Even at the federal level, Idaho is walking the walk by continuing to support good conservation measures. US Senator Jim Risch is presently co-sponsoring a bill to extend the Good Neighbor Authority, a provision that facilitates partnerships between forestry agencies across state lines, to county and tribal entities. This new change would help share the burden – and resources – necessary to carry out high quality land management. Responding to real needs with realistic solutions, the measure has even been supported by the National Association of Counties

I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty proud to be an Idahoan. 

Happy 10th Anniversary to the International Day of Forests! 

Also a cause celebration, the International Day of Forests is just one week away! On this day, the United Nations encourages us all to think of the ways our everyday lives are benefitted by forests. Whether it’s clean water in your tap, the medications that keep you healthy, or simply the memories you cherish for a lifetime, forests give greatly to us all. 

Additionally, as you look ahead to summer and begin making travel plans, don’t forget to see some forests up close and in person! The Montana legislature is ahead of the game in this regard, already working to pass a bill that will limit campsite reservations to 80% of available sites. We at CVI tip our hats to the spontaneous adventurers who may be better able to enjoy their public lands in Montana this year if the bill passes. 

An Update on the Idaho Legislature

While there are many causes for optimism, bills that attack our trees, wildlife, and public lands have already been coming rapidly in the Idaho state legislature. We all understand that victories usually require a fight, so CVI is here to put up a good one for our public lands. 

We’re currently tracking SB1084, a bill that would reduce regulations for Yellowstone Bear World, a private park with a record of USDA, OSHA, and Idaho Fish & Game violations. With dramatically reduced monitoring for animals that may have diseases or other health needs, this bill is directly hazardous to Idaho’s wildlife. 

We have also provided testimony and organized industry professionals against HB271, a bill that would permit advertisers to cut down trees in the public right-of-way that blocked views of billboards for 200 ft in either direction of the sign. 

As always, check on our bill tracker and legislative updates any time to see CVI’s priorities and how we’re fulfilling our mission to create the political environment to protect the natural environment. 

The Takeaways

It is heartening to see support rising steadily, despite so many changes in our state, and it’s important to celebrate the many victories around us. So this spring, enjoy the rains. Enjoy what may be the first drought-free year for our state in many years! Enjoy the hikes you take, and know that CVI is here throughout the legislative session, rolling up our sleeves to protect all the lands that we as Idahoans enjoy.

Thank you for being a conservation voter!