Reducing Our Government Footprint - Part 1

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“A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.” (Ayn Rand)

Nothing stirs the passion of the people quite like the public-lands debate. Both sides of the debate acknowledge the need, as well as value, of a public-lands system. However, both sides disagree vehemently over the “how” and the “who” of meaningful public-land management.

Recent events in Utah as well as Nevada underscore the many unanswered questions surrounding the care and management of public lands throughout the west.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) recently “killed” HR 621, a bill designed to dispose of small public land parcels that served no public purpose, as identified during the administration of former President Bill Clinton (D). Quoting Representative Chaffetz, “…groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message.”

In other Utah news, the Outdoor Retailer trade show, held biannually in Salt Lake City, announced that it would begin searching for a new host city due to Utah’s continued push to return public land to the state as well as its call for President Trump (R) to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument designated by former President Obama (D).

Conversely, in Nevada, Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV) sponsored HR 1484, the first phase of which would return approximately 7.2 million acres of public land to the state of Nevada. In addition, Representative Amodei sponsored HR 2733, which returned approximately 70,000 acres of public land to tribal control.

Locally, the City of Challis will work to write its own story. We will tell the story of the return of 400 acres of public land from the BLM to the City of Challis, highlighting the positive aspects of such a transfer. We will articulate the value we place on our public lands, the commitment to our culture and heritage and the benefit of true local management as demonstrated by our record of achievement.

The transfer presents three immediate areas of opportunity, all of which meet the aforementioned criteria.

First, the City of Challis will make a longtime local landowner whole by eliminating the need for a BLM easement to reach his property. This represents an exchange of 1 acre, or 0.25 percent of the total, for 100 percent peace of mind for the longtime local landowner.

Second, the City of Challis will honor the current grazing allotments, as well as work with a longtime local rancher to extend those allotments into the future: 100 percent peace of mind for the longtime local rancher.

Third, the City of Challis will look to work with Custer County, as well as other stakeholders, with regard to the landfill and potential waste incinerator. The flexibility to work local government-to-local government affords opportunities that may not otherwise exist: 100 percent peace of mind for Custer County.

Notwithstanding the three immediate areas of opportunity, the transfer also allows the City of Challis to eliminate unnecessary red tape with regard to utility rights-of-way, continue traditional uses including a trail system and hunting (Idaho Fish and Game rules and regulations apply), as well as the potential development of a 35-acre pasture for lease.

This investment also provides a direct revenue source for the city’s general fund, specifically parks and recreation, as well as an indirect economic benefit to the city overall.

No downside exists to well-managed, accessible land reflected through public policy that takes into consideration our culture and heritage. In other words, “what you can do now, you will be able to do after the transfer.” The only difference: The land will be owned, and managed by the City.

Challenging and complex issues present unlimited opportunity. Through a reasoned, measured and balanced approach to management we will enhance and preserve access, while at the same time honoring our commitment to our culture and heritage.

“Natural Rights can be summarized in four words: The presumption of liberty.” (Judge Andrew Napolitano)

Michael Barrett - Mayor, City of Challis

“Reducing Our Government Footprint - Part 1” is the first in a three-part series. Parts 2 and 3 will elaborate on partnerships with stakeholders to reduce municiapl costs, tax policy, specifically how changes at the state level will result in a ripple effect for rural municipalities, and private property rights.

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