Keep public lands public…

Dear Editor,

As a college senior at the University of Idaho, the pressure to know what’s next is palpable. Inevitably the dreaded question comes up: “What’s next after graduation?” Concerns over opportunity and quality of life ultimately dictate the decision we make when we decide should we stay or should we go?

Like most college students around the state, I have strong ties to Idaho. My Basque grandfather immigrated here when he was my age to escape an oppressive dictatorship. America delivered on its promise of opportunity and my family has now lived here for three generations. My brother and I grew up in Idaho’s forests, rivers, and mountains and we have America’s commitment to keeping wild lands wild to thank for those experiences. This makes it especially disappointing to see some Idaho politicians continually pursue a state takeover of our public lands.

The proponents of this ill-conceived plan have promised us that our access wouldn’t change, but fail to mention that the Idaho State Constitution mandates that we manage our state lands to attain the greatest possible profit. We only need to look to Priest Lake to see the latest example of what will really happen: our lands will be sold off. What will our access look like when this land is auctioned to private buyers? I’m not interested in rolling the dice to find out only to discover an Idaho full of keep-out signs and fences.

My decision about where to build a future is based on Idaho’s legacy of public lands access. Staying in this state is contingent upon my ability to access the public lands I love and many of my peers feel the same. Let’s spend our time and energy elsewhere and put this misguided plan to bed.

Anne Zabala

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