Idaho's vanishing rural lands and booming development will be the focus of the Idaho Land Use Summit, September 14 and 15 at the Nampa Civic Center.
The two-day event promotes conservation of Idaho's rural quality of life and wildlife resources by bringing experts in western land-use issues together to find a balance to the accelerating growth and development occurring across Idaho.
"What is important to know about the summit is that we are looking for Idaho solutions to balance growth with Idaho's rural lifestyles," said Gregg Servheen, chairman of the summit steering committee.
The summit starts at 9 a.m. Thursday, with U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, providing opening remarks about his Farm Bill provisions to help farmers, ranchers and wildlife conservation.
Other speakers from New Mexico, Montana and Colorado will relate their efforts to conserve working farms and ranches, wildlife, open space and rural qualities of life, shrinking every day across much of the West.
Panelists, including agency directors, legislators, county commissioners, developers, land owners and land managers, will discuss changing rural communities, the New West, and the role of government in helping to balance development with rural lifestyles, wildlife conservation and working farms and ranches.
The Idaho Association of Counties "supports the summit because counties across Idaho are struggling with this issue," said Kelci Karl-Robinson, speaking for the association. "Counties have one of the most important roles to play but have too few resources and their role is politically threatened by such initiatives, such as Proposition 2."
Summit sponsors include the governor's Office of Species Conservation; the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission; the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Potlatch Corp.; the College of Natural Resources at the University of Idaho; the Idaho Landowners Conservation Incentives Project; Forest Capital; Western Pacific Timberlands LLC; the Idaho Conservation League; and Idaho departments of Fish and Game, Parks and Recreation, and Lands.
"We feel the summit is very important for two reasons. First, it is about finding solutions that fit Idaho, and second, it is taking action on an issue that threatens the livelihoods and lifestyles of Idaho's ranchers and rural communities," said Gretchen Hyde, executive director of the Rangeland Resources Commission.
Terry Mansfield, deputy director of Idaho Fish and Game, has also been an active member of the summit steering committee.
"Our sportsmen are telling us we are losing hunting and fishing access because of development, and over 30 percent of big game winter range and 40 percent of Idaho's wetlands occur on private lands," Mansfield said. "The department is urging interested sportsmen to attend the Summit and we support its goal to find solutions that work for Idaho."
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 14, followed by a social hour and outdoor barbecue. It continues from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Friday, September 15.
Anyone interested may register, take an online survey, and download a program at: http://www.ictws.org/summit.html. Registration is $75 and includes two lunches and a barbecue dinner.