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For the week of May 16 through May 22, 2001

Land Board deserves Marvel

Western Watersheds Project lightning rod Jon Marvel of Hailey has taken a lot of abuse in his quest to get Idaho to take better care of its public lands.

Marvel is a gadfly’s gadfly. Overstatement is his hallmark, and it makes people mad—even those who agree with him.

Be that as it may, the Idaho Land Board deserves Jon Marvel. It proved it again last week.

The Land Board leases state land to private companies and individuals for various enterprises, mostly ranching. Marvel had taken aim at its cheap sweetheart deals with ranchers and its lax attitude about range conditions on its leased parcels.

For a while, it looked like Marvel and the Idaho Supreme Court had gotten the Land Board’s attention.

It didn’t last long.

Last week, the Land Board reinstated a grazing lease on 7,000 acres for a Custer County rancher who never complied with a management plan he agreed to three years ago. The plan that called for lighter grazing would have improved conditions in lower elevations and along stream banks.

Land Board members Secretary of State Pete Cenarussa, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Controller J.D. Williams said they didn’t want to put a rancher out of business. So, they outvoted Attorney General Al Lance and Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard and decided to overlook the violations.

Instead, they demanded a 25 percent reduction in grazing and said, if they can be believed, that the lease will be canceled immediately if the management plan is violated.

The Land Board did more than encourage a scofflaw. It proved it needs Marvel and the Western Watersheds Project more than ever.


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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.