On Jan. 18 I attended the Bonner County Commissioner’s public hearing regarding the proposed Bonner County Natural Resource Plan.
I have concerns with the manner in which the public hearing was conducted.
At the beginning of the hearing the commissioners stated any letters mailed to the board that in their opinion had been “cut and pasted” were not going to be given consideration. There were several times those who were speaking were interrupted by the commissioners, who then proceeded to argue with them. A public hearing is the time to listen to what the public has to say. All citizens who take the time to write a letter or to attend a public hearing should be listened to, whether pro or con, and treated with respect by their elected officials.
All in all, six people spoke in support and I estimate that 20-25 were opposed. It became quite clear by the end of the hearing that all of the commissioners are in favor of the plan and that they were not really interested in the opinions of the public, especially of those who had an opposing view.
I am a voter, a long-time resident and an informed citizen and like many others in the county I expect that my representatives in local government are representing all of us and are making decisions to run our county in everyone’s best interests. This was not the case at the public hearing and this plan is not representative of our county. It is not supported by the Idaho Forest Group or the Idaho Conservation League.
A natural resources plan should involve all stakeholders and be developed with input from a broad spectrum. Input should be provided by federal agencies, state agencies, sportsmen’s groups, the outdoor industry and the forest products industry.
Our board of commissioners should be representing all of their constituents and respectfully take into consideration all opinions and value the input that could be provided by those qualified people within the groups listed above.