All citizenry desiring to hear an update through report and Q&A from Idaho County Special Task Force on the Lochsa Land Exchange Alternative F should attend the Idaho County Commission meeting.
Idaho County Commissioners Meeting Agenda December 20, 2011
11:00 a.m. Lochsa Land Exchange – Task Force Report/Questions——————Roy Lee/Commission
11:45 a.m. Indigent————————————————————————–Shirley/Debbie
Questions circulating throughout the citizens of Idaho County ask about the true intent of Commissioners in forming the task force. What legal framework applies to the official Task Force in lieu of the Lochsa Land Exchange and their official advisory capacity. There could be several scenarios to review, along with underlying motive that Commissioners have not presented clearly and emphatically either through editorials, the grapevine, nor through advisement of the Task Force committee members (at least none that have surfaced):
Is the Task Force an officially recognized advisory board / council / task force such as the task force designed for Idaho County Airport? Is the Lochsa Land Exchange Task Force subject to the Open Meeting Law or not? Why is there no legal language (such as an ordinance) in place to legally permit the Lochsa Land Exchange Task Force to make decisions for or recommendations to a public agency (Idaho Board of County Commissioners)? Are the Idaho Board of County Commissioners not receiving proper legal counsel from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Idaho County concerning establishment of any body “with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public agency regarding any matter”?
IF THE TASK FORCE IS ESTABLISHED AS A governing body of a public agency…
“Governing body” is defined to mean the members of any public agency “with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public agency regarding any matter.” Idaho Code subsection 67-2341(5). “Public agency” is defined to encompass various categories of governmental entities and subdivisdions at all levels of government. Idaho Code subsection 67-2341(4). The Open Meeting Law defines “public agency” to include “any sub agency of a public agency which is created by or pursuant to statute, ordinance, or other legislative act,” and “governing body” to include any body “with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public agency regarding any matter.” Idaho Code subsection 67-2341(5).
Have the Idaho County Commissioners established the Task Force to advise the official comments of the Idaho County Commission to the USFS relative to the “Supplemental draft EIS” concerning the Idaho County proposal for the Lochsa Land Exchange, knowing full well that they can legally choose to totally ignore any recommendations the Task Force makes. Why? because no apparent ordinance outlining a legal governing body seems to have surfaced, and no permanent steps to establish a “public agency” has been outlined, to the publics knowledge. Therefore, are Idaho County Commissioners using their well appointed Task Force to force an auspicious agenda that is not favored by the public?
A special Web Exclusive article by Andrew Ottoson in the Idaho County Free Press states that:
“the county commissioners have appointed a 16 member advisory panel to advance the county’s position and build public support for an acre-for-acre trade.”
The official purpose outlined in an early Task Force document on November 23, 2011, stated this official purpose:
To advise the official comments of the Idaho County Commission to the USFS relative to the “Supplemental draft EIS” concerning the Idaho County Proposal for the Lochsa Land Exchange.
There is uncertainty as to the origin of the statement in the Idaho County Free Press Web Exclusive Article (see below) that the purpose of the task force is to “build public support for an acre for acre trade”. If the Idaho County Commissioners underlying motive is to build support for an acre for acre exchange through the appointed task force, someone has been duped. Is it the members of the Task Force? Or the Idaho County Commissioners? Time will tell.
All citizenry who is able to attend the 11am Commissioners meeting at the Idaho County Courthouse for this topic, should be present. Otherwise, bookmark StopTheSwap.net to get frequent updates on the Status of meetings and task force position.
Lochsa land exchange meeting draw 165
(Web Exclusive Story) – Many reiterate concerns about privatization
By Andrew Ottoson – sports/outdoors reporter
GRANGEVILLE — No picketers marched, and nobody was heard shouting above the rustling of a dozen one-on-one and small group conversations during the fourth hour of a five-hour open house on the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange last Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the National Guard Armory.
Among the roughly 115 who attended, many reiterated concerns about privatization.
The Forest Service had experts on hand to address questions about roads and appraisals, and Western Pacific Timber (WPT) reps took questions about recreation, grazing, water and other oft-raised issues.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation distributed copies of an article written for the March-April edition of the organization’s “Bugle” magazine. Focusing on the virtues of converting the checkerboard to public ownership, the article lays out the foundation’s preference for the public to buy the land from WPT using federal tax dollars. RMEF’s article also quotes a former Forest Service chief, Dale Bosworth, to argue that Lochsa River headwaters are of such high value that the public can come out ahead through a land trade.
While the value-for-value plans being considered at the time RMEF’s article was written are still live options, the foundation is taking some heat from local members now that heavily-used areas near Grangeville, Harpster and Riggins are up for privatization.
A long-time member of the foundation, Janice Inghram, gave back a collection of treasured gifts from the organization she and her husband, Roger, once loved.
“We don’t approve of the foundation’s role in this land trade,” she said. “The land should stay with the Forest Service.”
Other long-time foundation members, John and Kathy Warford, expressed support for RMEF’s role: “It’s a win-win situation when a non-profit conservation organization with no financial interest is working on something like this,” John Warford said. “They’re as concerned as anyone about watershed, habitat, land stewardship and access, and a conservation easement covering all of it would be perfect.”
The foundation’s long-held view remains that the best, most valuable use for the Upper Lochsa is as publicly-owned wildlife habitat.
The Forest Service also strongly favors public ownership of the Upper Lochsa and has been considering ways to acquire the private half of the checkerboard since 2006. The forest has analyzed a handful of value-for-value possibilities: a land trade, an outright purchase, and two trade-purchase hybrids.
The forest is also considering an acre-for-acre land trade concept put forward by the Idaho County commissioners.
According to the forest’s analysis, all approaches would increase public ownership of elk summer range by 39,000-plus acres in the Upper Lochsa. Under any of the value-for-value land trades, some elk summer range in other parts of Idaho would be converted from public ownership to timberland, but with a net gain in public ownership of summer range of at least 28,000 acres.
Under the acre-for-acre trade, more than 38,000 acres of elk winter range would lose the protections afforded by public ownership.
Local backlash has focused on nearby roads and trails, recreation quality and opportunity, and access to resources such as grazing allotments, water and firewood. The backlash has included two volatile town hall meetings and a protest that shut down WPT’s open house in October.
In response, the county commissioners have appointed a 16 member advisory panel to advance the county’s position and build public support for an acre-for-acre trade.
Roughly 50 attended the Nov. 28 Forest Service open house in Riggins, and another meeting will be held in Riggins on Monday, Dec. 12. It will be put on by the National Association of Forest Service Retirees and the Friends of the Palouse Ranger District.