An Open Letter: To the Bonner County Board of Commissioners in opposition of the Natural Resource Plan

By Kirk Sehlmeyer
Reader Contributor

Dear Commissioners,

My name is Kirk Sehlmeyer, and I live in Bonner County. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments and express my opposition to the proposed Natural Resource Plan.

As a sportsman I am troubled by any reference in the proposed Natural Resource Plan to “transfer” federal lands to Idaho. Page 11 of the proposed Natural Resource Plan states: “Returning title of federally held lands back to State ownership is a viable solution that should be explored by the County and supported by the County at the State level.” According to the Idaho Statesman, Idaho has sold 41 percent of its state-owned land: 1.7 million acres. That’s an area nearly 1.5 times the size of Bonner County. Much of this land is no longer available for hunting and fishing by Idahoans. Federal transfer to Idaho will lead to the sale of this land and loss of access by hunters and anglers.

Additionally, I feel that a natural resource plan should include input from a variety of stakeholders. I believe that this plan was drafted by a group that all share a similar philosophy on land management and resource extraction in our county. The composition of this committee should reflect the diverse user groups that depend on public land for their livelihood or recreation. To ensure the plan’s efficacy and benefits to the county this list should include (but, not be limited to):

Federal agencies including: United States Forest Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

State agencies including: Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Lands, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Sportsmen’s groups including: Bonner County Sportsmen, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

Forest products industry including: Stimson Lumber Company, Idaho Forest Group, Hancock Investment Group.

Outdoor industry including: the Idaho Outfitters and Guide Association, Schweitzer Mountain Properties, and owners of restaurants and hotels in Bonner County.

In summary, I believe that you should reject this plan. You should solicit additional public comment and host workshops to collaboratively shape a natural resource plan that benefits Bonner County’s residents and businesses. Thank you for your careful consideration of this plan.

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