You are Needed: Public Meeting on CuMo Mine

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 9, 2019: Public Meeting (drop-in, open-house style) 5:00 - 7:00pm at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport, 2645 Airport Ave, Boise, ID

It’s hard to get your head around the size, and sheer magnitude, of a project that could create one of the largest open-pit mines in the world in our Boise National Forest, along the headwaters of the Boise River. These are our public lands. We need our business members and friends engaged! The U.S. Forest Service is once again taking comments and holding public meetings regarding the proposed exploratory drilling project at the Idaho CuMo Corp.’s mining claim site, situated near Grimes Creek.

Gettty Image of an open-pit mine.

Gettty Image of an open-pit mine.

Grimes Creek flows into Lucky Peak Reservoir and is part of the Boise River watershed which supplies valuable irrigation and drinking water to surrounding communities, as well as parts of Boise. The current CuMo exploratory drilling project being considered by the Forest Service would create about 13 miles of new roads, and allow the use of about 5 miles of existing unauthorized roads to reach up to 122 drill pads within the 2,885-acre site. On the CuMo website they state: “Currently, Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation is advancing its CuMo Project towards feasibility and its goal is to establish itself as one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost primary producers of molybdenum.”

Idaho CuMo Mining Corp., a subsidiary of a Canadian based mining company, says they intend to hire 50-60 local workers and spend $100 million – money that will benefit local families and economies during this exploratory drilling project. As a nonpartisan business voice in support of the advantage Idaho's preserved outdoors and public lands represent to our state and economy, Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO) does consider the economic value a mining project on public lands represents to our state, as well as our rural communities. However, this project will limit access to public lands, decrease outdoor recreation and its associated revenues (which represent 2.3 billion in wages and salaries to Idaho, according to the Outdoor Industry Association), pose risks to wildlife and threaten air, land and water quality in surrounding areas and beyond.

Federal Courts have sent this project back for environmental review twice on account of insufficient environmental analysis. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge ruled in 2012 that the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously by approving the CuMo Exploration Project without first examining potential groundwater contamination. In his opinion he cautioned, “The very nature of drilling holes 1,500 to 3,000 feet into the ground seems likely to impact the underlying surface including groundwater. . . .  These are significant environmental concerns”. Again in 2016, Advocates for the West, sued faulting the Forest Service for approving the CuMo Exploration Project without taking sufficient steps to protect water quality and rare flower habitat.

IBO remains concerned about the size of this project and its associated risks. The threat a mining disaster would present to our Boise River watershed, public lands, public health and economy could be devastating. It is also unlikely the costs of a mining disaster could be mitigated through the $300,000 bond CuMo has provided to cover the planned exploratory drilling to protect the taxpayers from footing the bill for any cleanup. Please join us on January 9, from 5-7p.m. at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport to learn more about the US Forest Service’s latest environmental assessment and to voice your concerns.

Cell Phone Addiction, Chronic Disease and the Nature RX

Day 2: SHIFT—Public Lands/Public Health

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Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Dr. David Sabgir a cardiologist from Columbus Ohio, decided he would invite his patients to go for a walk with him. To his surprise, over 100 people showed up on a Saturday morning in the spring of 2005, energized and ready to move. Now he leads a global program, with over 400 chapters worldwide, thats success can be traced back to this first walk he took with patients. However, Dr. Sabgir isn’t alone in his frustration to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, or in his willingness to turn to the outdoors to change behavior. Health systems, physicians and land managers from across the country gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the 2018 SHIFT festival: Public Lands/Public Health to explore the role nature and our outdoors might play in supporting individual health and community health.

There are officially more mobile devices than people in the world today. The average adult spends ten hours behind a screen, we were told at this year’s SHIFT Conference. As parents, we fight for our kids’ attention, competing with their screens in our own homes. Charges abound that our phones are crowding out physical interactions and increasing feelings of social isolation and depression. Compounding this problem is the understanding that sedentary lifestyles and chronic disease are increasing, while many people’s quality and quantity of life are decreasing. Heart disease and other chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. How do we improve population and community health and wellness? There was mounting evidence and countless testimonials from patients, doctors, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts that a Nature Prescription (RX)—without technology, may be the prescription we all need.

David Strayer, professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah presented his research on how a person’s ability to pay attention can be restored by interacting with nature, ideally without a mobile device. He uses converging methodologies in his lab to measure changes in both attention and performance, from psychophysiological (EEG and fMRI), subjective ratings, to primary (e.g., driving performance) and secondary task (e.g., reaction time) measures. Images of the brain were shown, reflecting how spectral EEG frequency changes after prolonged exposure in nature without technology. What does this all mean? When technology was used outside, there was greater inflammation across the brain, as compared to time out in nature without technology. Strayer, as well as other studies on neural plasticity suggest, brain-benefits of time in nature may include: improved cognition, enhanced memory, increased creativity, attention restoration, and changes in positive affect.

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Dr. Michael Suk, MD JD MPH FACS provided the opening keynote for the conference and presented additional evidence around the health benefits of time outside, mobilizing a call to action that advances nature as a social determinant of health. Current social determinants of health commonly include: education, employment and working conditions, food, housing, and social support. Access to nature is now being advanced as an important extension to a community health model. As people complain of an increasing sense of social isolation, despite technology’s promise to connect, doctors are finding they can help people be active and connect with friends and family when they send them outside. Additionally, without telling their patients to “exercise,” the prescription to go outside seems to encourage and support a more active lifestyle.

Some members of the audience asked if physicians and health systems need more evidence before widely adopting the Nature RX. The resounding answer was loud and clear: “Sure, we’d welcome more research and data, but we don’t have time to wait given the chronic disease we are seeing. We’re out of time.” Physicians are diving in, getting their hands dirty and finding ways to get their patients outside. Dr. Nooshin Razani presented her groundbreaking park prescription program called Stay Healthy In Nature Everyday (SHINE) where she takes families into nature every month. She is a pediatrician, researcher, and advocate of access to nature as a human right. As an attending physician at UCSF Benioff Oakland’s Primary Care Clinic and a Clinical Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), she conducted the first randomized trial of park prescriptions. She implemented Park Rx by providing transportation to parks, fun activities such as community walking, group games, meditation and yoga.

Other physicians across the country are leading similar efforts. Founder and Medical Director of Park Rx America, Dr. Robert Zarr, talked about his health initiative of prescribing nature to patients and families to prevent and treat chronic disease and promote wellness. Dr. Banner of Barton Health and USFS/Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Collaboration discussed his system’s team of staff who are getting patients out in nature. It is clear other health systems like Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Northwestern, University of Washington and Berkeley are advancing research and Nature RX prescription efforts of their own. At a time when chronic disease like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and mental health disease are being widely diagnosed, it is both refreshing and exciting to see health systems looking at different models to engage their patients and communities in nature as a determinant of health.

Most doctors and health leaders will say this is just common sense. Time outside makes people happier and healthier. Nature, parks and public lands offer us a place to unwind, to recreate, to experience risks and challenges that help build population resiliency. Time outside is also a way, and a place, to connect with friends and families. Maybe we have a favorite river or lake we like to go to, a city park, a mountain we like to climb, a landscape we like to be in to feel at peace. It turns out that these places we intuitively connect with or feel a sense of wonder over, are often what make us happier and healthier.

As an Idaho native, and as Idaho Business for the Outdoor’s Executive Director, I proudly support this nonpartisan, cross-sector collaboration that reestablishes people’s relationship with nature as a path to better community health. It is with deep gratitude and pride in our great outdoor state—Idaho, that I stand firmly behind this national effort.

2018 SHIFT: Public Lands/Public Health

Day 1 - Blue Mind

I’m in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the base of the Teton mountains. Last night, I attended an uplifting and moving talk at the SHIFT conference by author and researcher, Wallace J. Nichols. He’s a sea turtle lover and expert, with a captivating ability to connect everyone in a room around water. To a packed house, he talked about his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Heathier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”

He showed research and data on how water diminishes anxiety, amplifies creativity, expands compassion, and improves well-being. He also made the qualitative, or very human case, for water’s restorative benefits. He showed seemingly random photos, paintings, lyrics, and poems connecting people to and around water, making the case water heals us, makes us smile, makes us laugh, heals us, and makes us happier and healthier people.

SHIFT 2018

SHIFT 2018

He gave each of us a blue marble to hold up in the air to remind us earth is a small blue planet of water. His resounding message was a call to action - find your water! We were encouraged to think about our marble and a particular body of water we relate to. It could be your favorite fly fishing stream, the lake you and your kids swim and paddle board, a river you paddle, the neighborhood pool, a mountain of snow (it is water after all), a beach, the water you drink. It’s different for everyone, but Nichols is so confident in water’s connective power that he uses is as a conversation starter on airplanes, “What’s your water?” he asks.

We all need water and our waters need us, is Nichol’s poignant and timely message to everyone. It struck a chord with me. We have waters in Idaho that need us; what’s our relationship to these waters? What’s our collective responsibility and my own responsibility to “my water”?

Next week, I will help facilitate a citizen science effort. Idaho Business for the Outdoors has teamed up with high school environmental science classes in Boise to conduct water quality testing along the Boise River from Arrowrock to Parma. As I board the bus to visit various testing sites with high school students, I will be thinking about the health and nature benefits of clean waters as well as their economic value to our state. I will be thinking about the collaborative business, education and community advocacy efforts needed to make 100% of Idaho waters fishable and swimmable. I will be thinking about what water quality data means to different people and stakeholders managing water quality, infrastructure, flows and water policy. I will also be thinking about how these young people connect to water and what it means to them.

We believe engaging young people in water science and monitoring is key to environmental science education, water conservation, and valuing water as an asset. What Nichols reminds me is that perhaps what is equally important and valuable, is helping everyone find their water and to make sure there is quality access for all. Water on a basic human level is fun, restorative, enriching, and life sustaining. We all deserve our own water story! Next week something about a particular student will engage me. We will connect on some level and I will do what Nichols suggested. I will share my blue marble, put it in someone else’s hand and help them find their water story.

What’s Your Water? #shiftjh2018 #bluemind #bluemarble

Heather Parkinson Dermott
Four Letters You Should Know:  LWCF

Business leaders and owners in Idaho are proud supporters of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), but it is now in danger of expiring.  The LWCF is one of our nation’s most important conservation legacies. Enacted in 1965, the LWCF helps preserve our public lands, working forests and ranches, and helps ensure access to public lands and outdoor recreation—all without the use of taxpayer dollars. 

Congress has not yet acted to fund or reauthorize this vital program before its September 30, 2018 expiration date.  Without the certainty of LWCF renewal, we put future conservation opportunities and our public lands in jeopardy.

Over the past 50-plus years, Idaho has received millions of dollars in LWCF funds, at no cost to the taxpayer.  LWCF is funded and authorized to receive up to $900 million annually through royalties paid by oil and gas companies drilling offshore.  The fund has enabled the preservation of millions of acres in all 50 states and supported the conservation of national parks, local trails, national recreation areas, wildlife refuges, rangeland access and more.

The Trump administration's 2019 budget, again calls for major cuts in the LWCF and some have threatened to let it expire.  The LWCF has two components: the federal land acquisition program and the state assistance program. The federal fund helps acquire “inholdings," or pieces of private land within the borders of national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other protected sites. The purchase of inholdings help make pieces of public land “whole,” more continuous, and therefore simpler to manage and access from a wildlife, rangeland grazing and outdoor recreation standpoint.

The LWCF state assist program allows matching grants for open spaces, parks and outdoor recreation areas and facilities. From Sandpoint to Soda Springs, LWCF state assistance program has helped fund the purchase of parks and outdoor recreation areas. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, City of Rocks, parts of the Salmon River, Bruneau Sand Dunes, Ponderosa State Park and many others have been conserved using important LWCF dollars. 

The economic impact and benefits of LWCF nationwide reported by the National Recreation and Parks Association are notable:
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the total LWCF was $450 million 
  • The State Assistance Program provided over $110 million in funding to states and localities FY 2017; Idaho received over $1 million for recreation use projects FY 2017
  • Wise Use of Federal Funds at NO Expense to the U.S. Taxpayer
  • States do not have to compete against other states for funding. Each year, a set percentage of LWCF State Assistance funding is equally distributed to the states and territories. Remaining funds are then allocated based on population.  
Congressman Mike Simpson, Senator Jim Risch, and Senator Mike Crapo have all been supporters of the LWCF in the past. However, the approximately $900 million deposited annually into the federal treasury for LWCF every year, continues to be diverted to other pursuits, depleting vital conservation resources. Join Idaho Business for the Outdoors in thanking our Congressional delegates for their support, and in asking for their leadership and support to help Congress:  
  • Fully fund and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is set to expire on September 30, 2018
  • Demand robust funding for the total LWCF greater than FY18 level of $450 million
  • Continued support for the State Assistance Program at 40% of overall LWCF allocations, appropriating no less than $110 million (FY17 level)
  • Continue their hard work to keep Idaho an outdoor state

 

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We Made It! - 2018 SHIFT Awards Official Selection in the Business Leadership Category
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Public Lands, Public Health 

We are proud to announce that Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO) has been designated for the 2018 SHIFT Awards Official Selection in the Business Leadership category!  We will have the opportunity to attend and participate in the SHIFT Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this October.  Entitled “Public Lands, Public Health," the program will highlight the ways pioneers, early adopters and thought leaders from around the country are integrating time outdoors in nature into our health care system and our daily lives. 

We want to thank SHIFT as well as our own early-adopters, and founding healthcare business members:  Direct Orthopedic Care, Center for Colorectal Care, Allied Orthopaedics and the Idaho Urologic Institute for uniting their businesses' healthcare voice with IBO.  By joining with other industries, as well as a broader nonpartisan set of stakeholders, these businesses are helping IBO connect land and water management and use decisions with the health and wellness of people right here in Idaho. Idaho has the second most physically active population in the nation - due in large part to our magnificent public lands and outdoor access.  Our outdoors and amazing outdoor recreation opportunities are also attracting needed healthcare workers from large cities and other towns across the nation.  The health benefits of our outdoors, as well as the business advantage they provide in attracting and sustaining critical healthcare jobs in Idaho, are important to our state, our economy and the public health of people in Idaho.  

SHIFT began their research for this years awards by looking at more than 400 initiatives that were leveraging outdoor rec for conservation gains. They then evaluated more than 150 nominations on the basis of impact, innovation and replicability, and applied an additional criteria to their evaluations—“Does the initiative help advance and promote the health benefits of time outside?”to insure alignment with this year’s focus.  We were told our work as well as our nonpartisan and inclusive mission at IBO stood out as among the most impactful, innovative and replicable in the space.  We're thrilled and very thankful that IBO has been invited to participate in advancing a national effort to connect our public lands and outdoors to our public health.  

 

Idaho Take Notice

One of America's best ideas—public lands are again being undermined

For several years, Idaho has been warding off threats of a sage brush rebellion that would allow for the transfer of public lands to the state. Some say this would bring more revenue to our state, but history suggests a different outcome. Public lands that are transferred to the state are frequently sold off to the highest bidder to generate revenue for the state, ultimately limiting public access to our outdoors. To prevent such transfers, "Keep it public" and "Public Lands in Public Hands," have been the tag lines, branding and unifying a nonpartisan, and national effort, to prevent the transfer or sale of our public lands. However, the battle is evolving rather quickly with much more nuanced and sophisticated moves being made by this administration to support a pro-energy and development agenda on our public lands.  

Instead of proposing the sell off of our public lands to developers or the highest bidders, Trump and his administration are now moving ahead with sweeping agency and policy changes that fast track and prioritize energy and development efforts, while simultaneously undermining and limiting the public's ability to oppose and provide feedback on proposed oil and gas projects on our public lands. Four bills are being considered by the House Committee of Natural Resources that deserve Idaho businesses, as well as the public's attention and immediate feedback as they stand to significantly impact land use review and approval processes:

  •  (H.R. 6087) (Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming), titled, "Removing Barriers to Energy Independence Act" aims to charge the public for protesting gas and oil lease sales, or permits to drill.    
  • (H.R. 6106) (Rep. Stevan Pearce of New Mexico), titled the "Common Sense Permitting Act" would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to allow for exclusions and authorize additional categorical exclusions to streamline the oil and gas permitting process. 
  • (H.R. 6088) (Rep. John R. Curtis of Utah), titled the "Streamlining Permitting Efficiency in Energy Development Act" or "SPEED Act" amends the Mineral Leasing Act to authorize notifications of permit to drill, and for other purposes. 
  • H.R.6107 -  (Rep. Stevan Pearce of New Mexico), titled the "Ending Duplicative Permitting Act" that says the BLM will not have to require permits for oil and gas activities conducted on mineral estates that is less than 50% federally owned, and for other purposes.  

Public lands belong to all Americans. The prioritization, or fast tracking, of an entire industry's projects, fails to take into account the broader long term economic value of our public lands. Too many stakeholders, businesses, and communities' livelihoods and health depend on the continuance of healthy public lands for us to fast track projects that could impact us here in Idaho for decades. Let's make sure that work done on public lands remain in compliance with the important environmental reviews required by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act which helps ensure the public's right to participate in how public lands are goverened.  

We need good long term multi-use public land management models and policies. As stewards and beneficiaries of public land access here in Idaho, your voice is needed in opposing bills that undermine public engagement and try to bypass necessary environmental reviews.  

Unite your business voice with ours!  Together, we are Idaho businesses supporting Idaho's Lands!

House Farm Bill Faces Full House Vote!

We stand with Idaho businesses, farmers and ranchers in asking more from the 2018 Farm Bill

Idaho Business for the Outdoors stands with the businesses, farmers, ranchers and countless others in rural communities that rely on strong farms, healthy lands and policies to help guard our food supply, water quality, land quality, and public health.  We urge Congress to meet its nonpartisan obligations to help support a strong agricultural economy, more responsible pesticide use, and the reinstatement of the nonpartisan energy title within the 2019 House Farm Bill.

Without an energy title, Idaho's private sector investment in renewable energy and supportive manufacturing in rural communities may see a sharp decline.  There are a number of biobased, biodegradable lubricants that are being developed for automotive, industrial, marine, mining, aviation, energy, drilling, manufacturing, transportation, construction and agriculture industries nation wide.  These efforts must be supported in Idaho to support our diverse and growing economy. 

1 ) We ask that an energy title be reinstated and funded as part of the 2018 HouseFarm Bill.  An energy title is a critical component in addressing our changing climate.  Idaho businesses trying to address these challenges through bioenergy, biofuels, biolubricants, renewables and other technological and manufacturing innovations need support.  The bipartisan energy title with mandatory funding for key programs requires minimal federal investment.  It is less than 1 percent of total farm bill spending, yet helps incentivize hundreds of thousands of jobs, new manufacturing, technology innovation and helps drive a cleaner, healthier America. More than 1.5 million U.S. workers manufacture biobased products, generating over $127 billion in annual economic activity. 

2 )  We ask the House Farm Bill provide broader protections against pesticide use to help promote and enact health standards that  ensure our right to clean land, food and drinking water. 

3 )  The House Farm Bill must comply with the Endangered Species Act.  It should not allow the EPA to approve pesticides without considering how they may harm threatened or endangered species.  It should not exempt the EPA, pesticide manufacturers, and applicators from any liability should those pesticides kill or harm listed wildlife.  Regulations, years in the making and put in place to protect our wildlife, should not be rescinded to benefit pesticide manufacturers.  

Please reach out to our Congressmen this week:  Mike Simpson:  (208) 334-1953 and Raul Labrador:  (202) 225-6611 to share your concerns over the 2018 House Farm Bill.  

 

Reclaiming multiple-use on our public lands

A story in the New Yorker this week reports that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is providing "vision" cards to its employees.  They depict a winding river and foothills which could pass as a scenic Idaho landscape, except on this same card there is now also an "oil rig." This card is meant to remind employees of their mission of multiple-use land management on public lands across the West.  

Courtesy of PEER.org

Courtesy of PEER.org

The Washington Post unveiled these vision cards and then the New Yorker published a provocative piece this week titled, "Ryan Zinke's American Fire Sale," by Carolynn Kormann. The article uncovers a pro-energy and pro-development administration's top-down efforts to rebrand our public lands and their land management practices, replete with updated BLM branding cards. For some, this doesn't come as a surprise, as Trump made clear in an early executive order his commitment to “promoting energy independence and economic growth,"  and directed Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, to “suspend, revise, or rescind” any guidelines that have imposed “regulatory burdens” on the oil, natural-gas, and mining industries. For others, it is further evidence of an administration's effort to ignore the myriad of land uses, values, and requests that compete with energy and development on our public lands. 

The BLM's multiple-use mission was set in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and mandates the BLM manage public land resources for a variety of uses, such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation and timber harvesting, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural and historical resources. It states, "The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." While the new Trump-era, Zinke inspired "vision" card can be dismissed as simply a card, it doesn't stop there. Kormann reports BLM posters depicting conservation landmarks, such as a federally protected red-rock canyon, have been swapped out for ones showing a towering black coal bed and a yellow haul truck.

There are so many other stakeholders and beneficiaries, like outdoor recreation and renewable energies, not accounted for in this narrow Trump-era vision of our public lands. The outdoor recreation economy depends on healthy public lands.  A new Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report out this year shows the outdoor recreation economy alone accounted for 2 percent of the GDP in 2016. Compare this to oil and gas, and mining extraction which accounted for 1.4 percent of GDP in 2016.  Consider reports from the BLM that say, "An estimated 43 percent of the public lands in Wyoming have wind energy development potential."  Energy development is no longer defined by oil rigs. Multiple-use land management must be about long-term asset management for future generations, not short term gains. 

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Reading Kormann's article it's hard not to feel like she is confirming a worst case scenario that one couldn't imagine unfolding at a federal agency overseeing one of our country's greatest historical legaciesour public lands. Trump and Zinke have managed to forge an aggressive and what some might call a winning strategy of deregulation that has eliminated "two million acres from the nation's protected areas, and offered another 11.6 million acres of largely wild public lands to oil-and-gas prospectors."  The land nominated for leasing also no longer requires a pre-sale environmental assessment.    

We witnessed first hand last year the Trump administration's decision to ignore conservation groups, recreational users, and local tribes when it decided to shrink Bear's Ears National Monument, largely at the urging of oil and mining interests. Kormann confirms what others have reported, but seem to only want to surmise—the sale of public lands and shrinking of monuments in Utah fits the parameters of a very nice and convenient energy postal stamp. "In late March, the B.L.M. sold leases on fifty thousand acres of public lands in southeastern Utah, over the protests of tribal leaders, conservationists, and, most notable, another agency within the Interior Department—the National Park Service. Some of the parcels are located within a few miles of the original boundaries of Bears Ears; others are adjacent to Hovenweep, a national monument containing the ruins of six prehistoric Native American villages."  

Korann exposes how at risk our public lands are in the West, which should give us plenty of reasons to remain steadfast and vigilant in our efforts to defend our public lands right here in Idaho.  One of the hallmark of our Western states is our huge surplus of leased, but undeveloped oil-and-gas parcels.  Many of these leased parcels aren't being developed due to energy prices and energy surplus. While Trump and Zinke continue to use “energy independence and economic growth” to justify the sale of lands and leases, a dark picture emerges of a very unbalanced, what I'll call, "lease-and-lose it" public land management model.  If one were to look for the silver lining, it might appear to be that the government is receiving industry money from various leases, while the land stays undeveloped and preserved for recreation, or other uses.  However, Kormann manages to expose the fault even in this kind of thinking:

"If the leased land isn’t going to be developed anyway, why shouldn’t the government make some money from all that unused space? Isn’t that a win-win? Absolutely not, Bloch and Nada Culver, the Wilderness Society’s senior counsel, told me [Kormann]. Once the land is leased, they noted, the B.L.M. has a legal obligation to see that it delivers what the lessee wants. In addition, the agency most often sells its leases without any stipulation preventing surface occupancy, meaning that some development—clearing brush, building roads, drilling wells—may occur. Once that happens, any possibility of using the land for conservation or recreation, or preserving it because it is sacred to local tribal groups, goes out the window."

What Korann's article doesn't bring to light are any bipartisan alternatives to challenge Trump's priorities for our public lands. It is helpful to realize the preservation of our public lands have historically been driven by strong bipartisan support.  It's time to reinvigorate and reclaim a multiple-use public land model that unites a vast array of individuals, businesses, scientists, conservationists, public health officials and industries to support our public lands.  Together, we provide a strong united voice, as well as the economic, social and conservation framework to justify the return of a multi-use land management systemone that values and can support our public lands as a long term asset, rather than a short-term energy play.

 

Outdoor Recreation finally calculated as part of GDP!

On December 8, 2016, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan, groundbreaking and historic legislation that would count outdoor recreation jobs as part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time.  Up until last year, the U.S. government had not measured, tracked or released the jobs and values associated with the outdoor economy: protected lands, clean rivers, and healthy oceans which have been an important part of the American economy for over the past century.  

Today, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released their prototype statistics from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) providing some initial calculations for review that size outdoor recreation as an industry:  

  • The outdoor recreation economy is said to represent 2.0 percent ($373.7 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016.
  • Our national outdoor recreation economy grew 3.8 percent in 2016, outpacing the 2.8 percent growth in the overall economy.  

We are excited to dive into this report, but in the meantime wanted to share the news.  At IBO we see this calculation as great progress in our national efforts to value and preserve the American outdoors.  These statistics should start to help businesses and their owners, as well as our government officials with necessary funding, resources and planning when it comes to advocating for the outdoors and its value to our American economy and our state economy here in Idaho.

The full text of the release on BEA's Web site can be found at https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/orsa/orsanewsrelease.htm

 

Heather Parkinson Dermott
Shrinking Farmlands The Focus of Idaho Ag Forum
ID Ag Forum, 2/8/18

ID Ag Forum, 2/8/18

Steeped in rich agricultural heritage, Idaho's farmers and their private lands are feeding the nation and providing important wildlife and fish habitats.  According to the Department of Labor, Idaho's agriculture sector contributes about $3 billion to the Idaho state economy.  Our agricultural heritage has positioned our state as:

In urban centers, we are often removed from our agriculture heritage, its value to our state, and the issues that impact our farmers.  If anything, urban circles hear more about the impact of non-point source water pollution caused by polluted runoff from agricultural areas affecting our rivers.  However, this year I was invited by our IBO Board Member, Merrill Beyeler a rancher from Lemhi County, to attend Idaho's Ag Forum titled, Agriculture:  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.  This forum placed the urban/rural divide front and center in order to explore how Idaho farmers can best address the continued loss of farmland due to urbanization. 

I heard a broad range of approaches raised to try to explore this problem - how do we feed a growing population as our farmlands are declining?   What was clear is this issue had brought research scientists, policy makers, county leaders, farmers and ranchers together to consider best practices that would allow them to produce affordable food for our growing population in the face of shrinking farmland here in the Treasure Valley.  

BSU professor, Dr. Jodi Brandt, a land-use scientist who studies landscape change and its drivers, and the impacts of landscape change on biodiversity and ecosystem services, presented her research.  She has modeled predicted declines in farmland against the backdrop of predicted increases in Idaho's population to 2100.  I also enjoyed an award winning speech delivered by a Meridian High School FFA student, Ashton Shaul.  For Shaul "the solution is right in front of us," if we can get over our fear of biotech and GMO's.  For her this growing field of science offers the opportunity to produce more food on less land, with less environmental impact. IBO's Board member and the Chairman of Lemhi Regional Land Trust, Merrill Beyeler, explained the way farmers might come together in their community like many of the ranchers in Lemhi County have done. Beyeler suggests voluntary conservation easements might help support conservation, wildlife habitat and trout runs as well as a viable path to keep their large ranches intact for the next generation. 

It is clear that the future of farming in Idaho is not without challenges.  Our end goals are the same as we work to preserve Idaho's land, as well as the fish and wildlife corridors and open space our farms and ranches provide.