Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sharing the Great Outdoors

by Senator Larry Craig

There is a lot to love about Idaho. While many parts of our state are growing, it’s still a relatively uncrowded place. Compared with many of the people I meet in Washington, D.C., and other places, Idahoans are still incredibly friendly, helpful and easygoing. I think it’s because we’re all glad we live in a beautiful state.

Whether you were born and raised in Idaho, like me, or you came here from another state, many of us love it here for the same reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the amazing variety and high quality of outdoor activities Idaho has to offer. Whether you enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, boating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or any of a number of other outdoor activities, the opportunities to pursue these pastimes in our state are just as good as, if not better than, anywhere in the world.

That is why I will be at Fort Boise Park in Boise on August 25, at noon, to help celebrate the first annual Idaho Outdoor Recreation Week. The Idaho Recreation Council has organized the event to bring together outdoor recreationists of all kinds to raise awareness of the importance of all forms of recreation in Idaho.

As Idaho’s population and character continue to grow and change, it is important for all outdoor enthusiasts to keep informed of, and to understand, the issues facing them. First and foremost among those is the issue of access to public lands. How should these lands be used and managed, and by whom?

Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service once said, “National Forests are made for and owned by the people. They should also be managed by the people. They are made, not to give the officers in charge of them a chance to work out theories, but to give the people who use them, and those affected by their use, a chance to work out their own best profit.”

I know that hikers may have a different vision for public lands access than ATV users or hunters. Anglers and boaters may differ on the best uses for our waterways. In fact, for every outdoor activity, there are probably different views on how our public lands and outdoor resources ought to be used. That’s why it’s important for all these groups to communicate and interact with each other, to make a good faith effort to understand the needs and concerns of each other when it comes to public lands. The result of such cooperation and collaboration can, and often does, lead to better land use decisions that all parties can live with.

Idaho Outdoor Recreation Week was started with this kind of interaction and cooperation in mind. Solitude has its place, motorized recreation has its place, and they can co-exist. With nearly 20 percent of federal land in Idaho designated as wilderness, and 45 percent of our federal land designated as roadless, and considering an amazing 78 percent increase in ATV / motorbike registration in the last four years, outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds must acknowledge some things. We must accept that outdoor interests are widely varied, and that the time has come to work together, so that all Idahoans may continue to enjoy the unique outdoor opportunities that make Idaho such a great place to live.

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