In Eastern Idaho, Harriman State Park sits in the middle of an 11,000 acre wildlife refuge. It’s the home of moose, elk, sandhill cranes, the occasional bear and trumpeter swans.
Situated on the banks of the Henry’s Fork River, it’s also a world class fly-fishing destination that is enjoyed by over 90,000 visitors annually. Harriman State Park was gifted to the state of Idaho in 1963. Unfortunately, a bill that was recently introduced by Rep. Palmer (R-Meridian) at the statehouse, HB 496, threatens its continued existence.
As a measure of good will, the Harriman family donated their parcel of land to the state for free with the only stipulation being that staff from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation manage the park. Park service personnel were to receive those positions on the basis of merit alone, or else the park could legally go back into the family’s possession.
Rep. Palmer’s HB 496 puts partisan politics at the front of park service personnel decisions and goes against the legacies of both the Harriman family and former governor Smylie. Yesterday, it was narrowly defeated after three split votes of 6-6 by members of the House State Affairs Committee. Today, the bill was revived by Rep. Crane (R-Nampa) and referred to a house floor vote. The bill now goes to the House amending order, a process where lawmakers amend existing bills.
It is possible, but not at all guaranteed, that the State Parks and Recreation Department will be excluded from this legislation. Either way, CVI is extremely disappointed that anybody in the Idaho Legislature would put Harriman State Park at risk. Conservation Voters for Idaho works to further the Gem State value of protecting the places Idahoans cherish. By jeopardizing Harriman State Park, the Idaho Legislature is working against the wishes and the values of average Idahoans. It’s time for this misguided effort to end.