Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Idaho that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Extension of the Boise River Greenbelt and completion of the Owyhee Land Exchange are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Butch Otter and the state of Idaho, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Idaho and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Idaho highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt offers more than 22 miles of pathways on both sides of the river. A signature attraction of the city of Boise, it connects parks, historic features, residential areas, and the downtown area. This project will extend the greenbelt to 63 miles, from Lucky Peak Dam to the confluence of the Snake and Boise rivers, creating a recreational expressway to Eagle Island State Park. Connecting pathways will provide recreation access and bicycle commuting to and from 10 cites in Idaho's Treasure Valley. The project also will clear barriers and provide portages for boating and increase access for fishing and wildlife viewing.
Some 1.5 miles of the Boise Greenbelt Trail have been built on Bureau of Reclamation lands in southeast Boise. Reclamation is part of the Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative. This coalition of federal, state, local, and private partners supports recreation and tourism, including the Boise River Trails and Parks Project. This project has substantial support in the area.
Owyhee Land Exchange
The Owyhee Wilderness is a Bureau of Land Management-administered wilderness area in southwest Idaho along the Owyhee River. This landscape is defined by rivers cutting steep canyons out of high desert and sagebrush plateaus. Rough roads provide access to empty, open land.
BLM and the state of Idaho have been working on a potential land exchange under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The exchange would swap state-owned trust lands within the Owyhee Wilderness for BLM lands outside the area. This will result in more contiguous wilderness and provide the potential for more revenue for the new state trust lands. There are 32,538 acres of federal land and 38,440 acres of state of Idaho land included in this exchange, but it will not be executed until both BLM and the state of Idaho have completed several tasks. This project has the support of the state of Idaho and Sen. Mike Crapo.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Idaho, for example, potential actions the Department could provide include technical and financial assistance for the extension of the Boise River Greenbelt.
In the Owyhee Land Exchange, The department could also provide matching funds for cultural resource surveys, boundary surveys, market appraisal, and other work required to complete the land exchange.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus – including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.