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First take/those feds

The statement of purpose on Idaho’s Senate Bill 1338 suggests that it calls only for Idaho officials to advise federal agencies when they think federal land management policies in a given area might cause a problem. Which would not be a terrible thing.

But read the bill, by Senator Sheryl Nuxoll, more closely, and you pick up something else: A county’s sheriff or its “chief executive officer” (first indicator of a problem: Idaho counties have no such thing) essentially could, under terms of the bill, take over management of the federal lands in question, cutting timber, changing grazing conditions and so on.

In a guest opinion in the Idaho Statesman today, attorney Kahle Becker (who has been an attorney for the state Department of Lands, in the attorney general’s office) described the measure as “yet another piece of ALEC-backed legislation wealthy land grabbers are parading around the West in the hopes of one day gaining control of your and my favorite places to hunt and fish. This bill is bad for Idaho and it is bad for those who love to recreate on public lands.”

She added, “What this bill actually does is sets the stage for a sheriff to go monkey around on federal lands cutting trees, building roads, and lighting fires that could ultimately land that sheriff or other county officer in Federal prison making license plates with the Bundy clan. It also sets counties up to pay the federal government a landslide of attorney’s fees and potentially treble damages.”

That sounds about right. And the odds are that the attorney general’s office has already advised legislators to that effect. None of which stopped the Idaho Senate from passing it last week 28-6. It now sits in a House committee.

Sounds like another argument for legislators to hire their own legal counsel which will tell them whatever they want to hear. – rs (photo/Bureau of Land Management)

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