Concerned Citizens. I’m reposting this article written in October 2011. I have not edited the article – in lieu of new facts or startling evidence. The property selected in Alternative F was a mistake. Its best that the Idaho Commissioners retract the land offered in the Swap and go back to the drawing board.
Idaho County Commissioners wrote in their letter to Teresa Trulock on March 8, 2011 “we have always identified a local solution as one that does not “negatively” impact Idaho County economically”.
This may be an economically feasible approach, but are there more “negative impacts” to consider before launching into a proposal without any communication with the people at large? Fiscal responsibility does suggest that economic aspects are important. But what about the sociological aspects? Not important?
WHAT ARE OTHER IMPLICATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONERS PROPOSAL?
In their proposal to US Forest Service to swap acre for acre of Idaho County Public Lands, Commissioners have not only ignored the will of the people, but have shown ZERO compassion for the human side of the equation. Public lands they’ve identified for swap from USFS to Western Pacific Timber will certainly enhance the local economy for a period of time, no doubt. But the implications of far reaching impacts to the spirit, the sociological health and collective soul of the people lacks any sensitivity whatsoever.
Near McComas Meadows, Earthquake Basin, Cove Road area, Fish Creek and the areas west of Slate Creek down to Rapid River represent important nearby locations where local citizens and visitors enjoy outdoor recreation and which do generate tourism dollars. From collecting firewood for winter heat, to camping, and trail riding, berry and mushroom picking, bird and wild game hunting, these are the lands closest to local communities and roads where the people of Idaho County as well as tourists visiting the area and lending to the local economy, can getaway from it all and enjoy quality time with our families and friends and sometimes even find solitary moments to sit and contemplate the beauty of the lands.
“NO GUARANTEES” IN LIFE
Sure, there are lots of public lands in the region that the people can use to recreate in and will be forced to travel to for personal enjoyment if the swap goes through. After all, Commissioner Skip Brandt tells us in no uncertain terms “there are no guarantees in life”. One guarantee the people understand and acknowledge is that our own wallets will feel the pain when we spend more in fuel and more time on the road to get to where we can finally rest and relax and enjoy the outdoors instead of looking at painted fence posts of private property owners.
The fact is, local citizens and taxpaying landowners are highly bothered by this land grab. Will the Lochsa Land Swap – as it relates to Idaho County Public Land, fester and morph into unsuspecting mental health issues for the people of this area? Will the proposal made by Idaho County Commissioners ultimately impact the underlying pulse of our community in harsh, negative ways, causing anger and hostilities to boil over?
COMMON SENSE TELLS US A LOT
Common sense would tell us that a failure to examine all of the proposed impacts to Idaho County is a flawed solution. On a human to human level, these public lands have provided decades of inner harmony for the people who cherish them. Snatch away a treasured legacy, or the basis for a businessman to move his entire company to Idaho County, and the careless, selfish, power trips that neglect human impact can present the case for why citizens go postal. If the swap goes through, will the sociological damages to the local community be directly traced to flawed decisions made by County Commissioners? In future years, the local community may begin to wonder why the rate of abuse, hostile standoffs and general crime is on the increase in our local community. Don’t forget the arrogance of Idaho County Commissioners who brought an abrupt end to a discussion forum on October 17, 2011 at the Senior Citizen Center. Name calling? Why not extract one or two unruly folks instead of erecting a wall of silence for the rest of the community who still had questions. The SWAT Team was already called in and could have handled individuals whose behavior might be indicative of the impacts this decision will cause, echoing into the history books of Idaho County.
INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS ARE IMPACTED
In 2002, one of our honored citizens, and business leaders, Ray Anderson, moved to Grangeville, along with all the equipment, inventory, and most of the personnel for his business, Anderson Aeromotive, an FAA Certified Repair Station specializing in the overhaul of Pratt and Whitney and Curtiss-Wright radial engines. As of July 31, 2011, Anderson Aeromotive employs 32 people, of which 30 are mechanics and 2 management personnel. Anderson Aeromotive currently occupies 55,000 square feet of building space on 8 acres of land just off Highway 95 not far from the airport.
After the positives that Ray Anderson has injected into the community of Grangeville as well as in the broader region of Idaho County, adding 32 new jobs, operating a world class aeromotive repair service that has encouraged upgrades and improvements to the local Idaho County Airport facility, this man of integrity and passion who has graced us with his brilliance in aeromotive radial engine overhaul, is definitely feeling the bite of the proposed land swap.
STOP THE SWAP
What is it that drives a man like Ray Anderson to organize a movement called Stop The Swap. He engineered the action of friends, colleagues and acquaintances based upon the pure passion in his heart, and the worry and anger over this proposed public land swap. The lands that mean so much to him are being threatened by plundering thugs in the name of Western Pacific Timber and its primary investor, the infamous Tim Blixseth. In Ray Andersons heart and mind, the very beauty of what drove him to Idaho County is diminishing. The vision he had for his family, his kids and grand kids to enjoy the bounty of what originally brought him and his entire aeromotive operation to the little town of Grangeville, is now a burning flame of dissatisfaction that is driving him to actions that he would otherwise devote to his business or to the enjoyment of life in Idaho County.
Ray has fought other battles, and won. When Skip Brandt suggested Ray Anderson and his neighbors backyard should become a multi-regional landfill that would create jobs, Ray fought back. He gathered the people of his neighborhood together and helped to create “Citizens Against the Grangeville Landfill“.
Suffice it to say, Ray Anderson is one of MANY citizens in the local economy who feels betrayed by the flawed insensitive trail of decisions that has led to a proposal by County Commissioners to US Forest Service to swap public land into private ownership.
WE THE PEOPLE WILL TAKE THE ISSUES TO A FEDERAL LEVEL
We the People are hereby taking this battle to the Feds (for whatever good that will do.) If the Commissioners cannot be sincere in sharing and collaborating with their constituents their perceived challenges of losing production base and declaring ”A No Action Alternative” in the EARLY STAGES of these Forest Service swaps, then how can We the People support and embrace their secondary and alternative position on the matter? Its a pure contradiction to state publicly that the County Commission stands on “no action” but still pushing for an acre for acre swap in Idaho County since its a fairly certain fact that the USFS is going to claim their prized Lochsa Lands.
In Andrew Ottoson’s Idaho County Free Press article published October 19, 2011, Andy skillfully quotes a meeting attendee who asked commissioners a question that really goes to the heart of this matter that Commissioners took measures into their own hands: Andrew wrote: Robin Herrman of Grangeville asked and suggested pointedly: “Have you contacted our Congressional representatives, senators, governor, the heads of Congressional committees and the head of the USDA about this? How come you didn’t motivate the public months ago? We can have a consolidated, coordinated effort on a political solution.”
Are we just a bunch of pests that they cannot effectively communicate with? Do they perceive some sort of arrogant hierarchy that falsely elevates them to a superior position? Do the Idaho County Commissioners really think in this day and age, that the people are just going to accept whatever they deem as “most important”? No, no, and no. We are all on equal ground and the commissioners posts are designed to serve the needs of the people. Somehow Skip Brandt, James Rockwell and Jim Chmelik appear to have become “self serving”, do not listen to the people, give them confusing information without specifics, and that perceived arrogance is utterly despicable and downright sad.
The three county commissioners are not bad people. They are serving the public in jobs that, good bad or ugly, most of us would not wish to perform, ever. They get beaten up and sometimes heralded for their decisions. But that doesn’t excuse the seemingly shifty answers that were provided in a recent meeting on this very serious issue.
Lets make a difference and take the issue to a level beyond Idaho County. The economic health of any community is important, but when Commissioners take it upon themselves to move forward with a controversial issue and neglect to consider the will of the people, their deep felt feelings and aspirations for the future of their families, then the human bonds of trust are broken and leadership value is diminished.
Author: Mary Mangold