Pop this pigeon
A bill working its way through the
Legislature would hamstring wildlife protection in Idaho.
House Bill 252 would prevent the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game from acquiring more land for wildlife habitat. The
law would freeze the amount of acreage the department may hold.
The only way the department could acquire
new habitat would be to sell off its existing land holdings—a disaster in one of
the nation’s fastest growing states.
The bill is the brainchild of lawmakers
who represent Boundary County. They say public lands unfairly dominate the
county and cheat it out of property taxes it might receive if the lands were
sold for development. Although the county receives payments in lieu of taxes
from public lands, the lawmakers say they’re not enough.
Fish and Game recently alarmed the county
when it used federal dam mitigation money to purchase 1,400 acres for the
Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area.
This county’s alarm does not justify a law
that is unwise and unfair.
The law would stop millions of dollars in
dam mitigation funds from being spent in Idaho. It would punish
conservation-minded private property owners by shackling the state’s major
purchaser of lands with wildlife values. The bill would undermine Idaho’s
cherished outdoor legacy.
The Legislature should take aim at this
pigeon before it treats landowners and counties in Idaho like its brethren treat
statues in New York’s Central Park.