Idaho has more than 34 million acres of federal land. According to a bipartisan poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, 64% of Idahoans feel that federal public lands in Idaho belong to all Americans and 56% do not believe it is fair or fiscally possible for the state to manage these lands. An independent study determined that Idaho would lose $2 billion over 20 years if it had to assume the liability and responsibility of managing federal lands.

Efforts are being made to transfer lands over to the state. HCR 21 passed in 2013, creating a “Federal Lands Interim Committee.” The committee studies “all aspects of the process of the state acquiring title to and control of public lands currently controlled by the Federal Government.” HCR 22 passed in 2013, demanding that the federal government turn public lands over to the state. Lawrence Denney, a strong advocate of land transfers, was elected Secretary of State, which grants him a seat on the Idaho Land Board.

Idaho’s Enabling Act states “And the people of the state of Idaho do agree and declare that we forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof…”

2015 Legislation:

  • Senate Concurrent Resolution 108: Stating findings of the Legislature and authorizing the Legislative Council to appoint a committee to undertake and complete a study for the State of Idaho to acquire title to and control of public lands now controlled by the federal government
  • Senate Concurrent Resolution 115: Stating findings of the Legislature and requesting that the Department of Lands perform certain duties with the federal government regarding federal lands and to provide for periodic reports
  • Senate Concurrent Resolution 126: Stating findings of the Legislature and requesting that the Department of Lands perform certain duties with the federal government regarding federal lands and to provide for periodic reports
  • Senate Bill 1134: Adds to existing law to create the Office of Public Lands, to provide for appointment of an administrator and to provide powers and duties of the office
  • House Bill 265: Adds to existing law to provide for the Interstate Compact on Transfer of Public Lands
  • House Concurrent Resolution 7: Stating findings of the Legislature and inviting Outdoor Retailer to host its biannual show and to express the importance of outdoor recreation to the economy of Idaho and to the lives of Idahoans