Summer is here and like many Idahoans, my weekends are spent camping on Idaho’s vast public lands. The state is blessed with some of the world’s best outdoor adventures, whether it is riding dune buggies in the St. Anthony Sand Dunes or hiking to high mountain lakes to fish.
Like most, I have seen an increase of people in the woods since the arrival of COVID-19. I am glad people are experiencing the great outdoors, but I worry about the impacts on fish and wildlife as our mountains and plains become more crowded. With that surge in use in mind, I write today to encourage public lands managers to update the plans that guide how public lands are used. The plans that set management goals for Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands are decades old and do not address growing recreation demand.
Deer, elk, and pronghorn need room across a vast landscape to search for food and security, yet the current land plans were written in the 1980s and have little to say about migration, much less direction for how to assure those routes remain unbroken. On the Salmon-Challis National Forest and adjacent Bureau of Land Management property, for example, there are 13 mapped migration routes and countless undiscovered routes.
I ask our public land agencies to update their current management plans and address increasing use and the needs of fish and wildlife, specifically, the need for large animals to move on the landscape in pursuit of survival. Updating those land plans will make sure my kids and grandkids will enjoy Idaho’s public lands as I have.