Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick today sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar asking that the Department of Interior work to immediately address issues of critical importance in Idaho. Simpson and Minnick asked for cooperation from the Department to find solutions on the issues of wolf management and potential changes to recreational activities on Lake Lowell in Canyon County - in both cases they express their willingness to fix these problems through legislation if necessary.
Simpson and Minnick expressed deep concern about the impact that the recent court decision to put wolves back on the Endangered Species list is having on Idaho. "There can be no doubt that wolves are now a fully recovered species in the interior West and that state management of wolves is not only warranted, but necessary," wrote the Congressmen. "We urge you to use any and all authorities available under existing law to ensure state management of wolves continues."
The letter continues, "We would prefer for this matter to be resolved cooperatively and outside of the legislative process, but should the Department find itself unable to meet the request of Governor Otter and should wolves remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, we will work with you to find a legislative remedy that allows the Department to delist wolves and turn over management to the State of Idaho."
The Congressmen also pushed for the Department to preserve traditional recreational uses on Lake Lowell. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a new Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, and many Idahoans are concerned the Service will curtail boating and other activities on the lake.
"The people of Idaho are, unfortunately, well-accustomed to the inevitable loss of access that has accompanied any re-evaluation of multiple uses on federally managed property over the past few decades," wrote Simpson and Minnick. "Given their prior experiences, our constituents keenly sense that the outcome of this process may be pre-determined and that recreational boating will be the clear loser .In the strongest possible terms, we urge you and the Department of Interior to take immediate steps to reassure the people of Idaho that recreational boating, including waterskiing and other uses, will not be significantly curtailed."
In February of 2009, Minnick and Simpson also urged the President to allow Idaho's first wolf hunting season, which Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials reported as a success.
Congressman Simpson is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, which oversees funding for the Department of the Interior.