Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dems, Hunters, Anglers

I happened to attend a BBQ over the weekend. The hosts and guests were pretty much conservative, Republican mormons, and all love to hunt and enjoy other outdoor activity. These folks would never vote Dem. Except, maybe they'd think about it if the issues were right.

To them, a key issue is access to outdoors. They decried efforts to privatize land and make it off limits to sportsmen and women. Given the Governor's long-standing credentials as a Sage Brush Rebel (for those of who who aren't familiar with it, the point was to sell off federal land to private owners), this issue is an opportunity for Dems. There has been noise lately about abolishing the practice of the state trading land below the high water mark for greenbelt land. **

Talk about the importance of access to recreational areas. Support funding for the Access program, and for buying an access easement to public lands that are off limits because access is only through private land.

The hunters at the party complained bitterly about the common practice of a person with BLM grazing rights fencing off and locking out hunters from that land. Perhaps preventing access could be a misdemeanor (this should be coupled with punishment on the other side if the hunter leaves the gate open, or harms the grazing or livestock).

Anyway, a dialog on such issues would accrue to Dem's benefit, I think.

**The link is broken, but from Google Cache:
Treasure Valley leaders have urged the Idaho Land Board to continue a policy that has helped expand the Greenbelt through Boise and Eagle and kept riverbanks throughout the state open to anglers, boaters and hunters.

The LandBoard oversees the Department of Lands, which manages state-owned property including the banks and beds of rivers up to the high-water mark.

Adjacent landowners often ask the board to recognize that dried-up channels are no longer below the high-water mark and therefore no longer state property. Under a long-standing policy, the department has routinely required these landowners to provide a 25-foot public-use easement in exchange for a disclaimer of state ownership of the lands that were formerly submerged.

After questions from one developer, though, the board will reconsider its policy at its meeting this morning.

The Land Board obtained rights of way for several miles of the Boise River Greenbelt by using this 25-foot easement, said Don Stockton, a retired regional director of the Idaho Department of Lands. It also has helped trails and parks in Marsing, Payette and along other rivers statewide.

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