Now I am not for land transfer as a solution. I think that there is a middle way, or a variety of middle ways, to be tested that could help us deal with the concerns of local people and officials. But first we have to be willing to listen, and not enemize or partisanize them, or simply tell them that their concerns are not valid. Basically the US owns the land and it can do what it wants, buffeted by alternating sets of national interests.
Here is the link.
But here is an interesting paragraph:
WHAT ABOUT RECREATION?
Haunold, whose business sells skis, bikes and other outdoor equipment, said nothing in the discussion addresses his industry, whose $6.3 billion in consumer spending generates 77,000 jobs annually, according to a new report by the national Outdoor Industry Association.
According to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the parent agency of the U.S. Forest Service, more than 7 million people visit Idaho’s 20 million acres of national forests annually, spending more than $400 million.
A 2011 Interior Department report concluded that recreation accounts for six times more jobs than grazing or timber, and three times more than energy and minerals on the 12 million acres in Idaho managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Even though much of the visitation hits rural communities, much of the spending is done in Idaho’s urban areas, so the rural lawmakers backing the bill don’t necessarily see the economic benefits of recreation in their districts. What they do see are reduced timber harvests and restrictions on grazing.
That’s why Haunold is skeptical when lawmakers say they won’t sell off the land if they can win a lawsuit upholding their plan and force Congress to turn it over – which Haunold thinks is a distinct long shot.
“As soon as they get their hands on it, they are going to sell off what they think is not valuable,” he said. “They’re going to fail, but along the way they will waste my taxpayer dollars.”
I italicized the part that interested me. First, I ‘d like to see the breakdown of where the jobs are if articulated in the studies he refers to.
But I hadn’t heard before that the “rural communities don’t necessarily see the economic benefits”. I wonder if that’s true? If it is, perhaps OIA would support a “Payments to Counties-like” transfer based on a percentage of say, metro sales going to support governments in rural areas? It only makes sense if those uses are up-and-coming, require county services, and don’t pay taxes in the counties.
I am beginning to understand the point of view of some rural legislators. We can’t use the land for what would give local people jobs, but we can to give urban people jobs… because those uses are .. better..
There is a bit of an air of domestic imperialism here. I didn’t focus on that in this piece but here’s also a quote from Swearingen’s piece on collaboration that we discussed here:
The idea of collaborative process has had its skeptics ever since it got a foothold in the 1990s, as people looked for ways through the polarization of the timber wars. The basic idea was to get traditional foes like loggers and wilderness advocates into the same room to hammer out proposals that might spare the Forest Service some costly litigation. But critics complain that these local, collaborative groups shift power from urban conservation interests to a rural minority.
Maybe that’s what all the unrest is really all about. Maybe we should discuss the power issues directly. What would it take to give local communities their rightful place in determining land uses? What is the local communities rightful place? Are some communities simply colonies of national interests and groups, because they happen to have a large federal land component, and they should simply resign themselves to the fact that outsiders know more than they about what is best?