"Idaho's abundance of parks, forests, and public lands makes our state a wonderful place in which to live, work, and play. As a life-long Idahoan, an appreciation for Idaho's wild areas is in my blood. I spent my childhood years at Redfish Lake, hiking in the Sawtooth National Forest, and camping in Island Park. These places hold the memories of my childhood, but they are just as significant to me today. They provide beauty and space that lets me breathe and find rest when I need it.
"My experience with the wild areas of Idaho is no different than that of most Idahoans. Idahoans live here because of the beautiful natural resources, and we spend our free time fly fishing in the Middle Fork of the Salmon, rock climbing in City of Rocks, or hiking in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area.
"As Idahoans, we have a special relationship with our public lands. We live near them or in them. Our gateway communities welcome people from all over the world to enjoy the beauty and adventure that Idaho's parks and forests have to offer. When national forests and public rangelands go up in flames, like they have this summer, it impacts our day-to-day lives, and it is our friends and neighbors who rush in to protect our lives and property. And because we have such a close relationship with our lands, policies affecting public lands affect us directly and significantly.
"As Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget for many public land management agencies, I have a unique opportunity to influence federal policies that directly impact Idaho. The federal government owns nearly two-thirds of the land in our state, so Idahoans interact with agencies like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on a daily basis. Land management agencies need to be good neighbors, and in my position I am working to ensure that they are able to act effectively and efficiently on the public's behalf.
"After a number of years in Congress, I have learned to appreciate the perspective of those who come from different parts of the country. But I feel even more strongly than ever that Idahoans are more qualified than Washington bureaucrats to determine what is best for Idaho. Our public lands issues are complex--ranging from ecosystem management to resource development to private property rights--but some of my proudest moments as a Member of Congress have been watching my fellow Idahoans work together to find solutions to these challenges.
"As we celebrate National Public Lands Day this Saturday, take the opportunity to embark on a new adventure in a national recreation area or sit and soak in what nature has to offer in the quiet of a national park. In doing so, you will be taking part in a long Idaho tradition. For a full list of National Public Lands Day activities, please visit www.publiclandsday.org and click on "Find a Site" to find an event near you."