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Idaho Senate Backs Public Land Take Over from Federal Government

Benito Baeza

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Senators voted 21-13 to approve a House-passed measure demanding the federal government cede millions of acres of public forests, backcountry and rangeland to Idaho. Majority Republicans Tuesday argued Idaho’s economy has been stunted because 64 percent of the state is under Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or other federal agency control.

In support of the resolution, Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell contended Idaho can manage resources better, reducing wildfire risk, helping wildlife and creating timber-industry jobs. Democrats challenged such a transfer’s legality, saying it violates Idaho’s own Constitution. They also object to characterizing Idaho’s vast swaths of public land as an albatross, on grounds they’re a valuable resource there for everybody regardless of wealth to enjoy. An interim legislative committee also will meet this summer, to study a takeover.

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