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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 26 - March 4, 2003


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.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.