Report: Idaho Grab for Public Lands Would Cost the State Billions


Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League, (208) 867-3505

Dr. Evan Hjerpe, Conservation Economics Institute, (208) 869-1675

Mike Ferguson, Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, (208) 297-3974

BOISE – The Idaho Legislature's proposal to seize millions of acres of national forest and other public lands in Idaho would end up costing the state billions of dollars in infrastructure, fire-fighting and lost county payments, an economic study has found.

"This is the first cold, hard calculation on what the costs would be if Idaho were to take over public lands now managed by the federal government, and those costs are staggering. Idaho legislators would be wise to ask themselves how Idahoans could afford to take on that additional burden," said Mike Ferguson, former State Economist and director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.

According to the report, if Idaho were to assume control of 28 million acres of Idaho’s federally-administered lands (as envisioned by House Concurrent Resolution 22), the state:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Would lose $250 million in the first year, $1.5 billion over the course of 10 years and more than $2 billion after 20 years.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Would immediately lose nearly 2,500 government jobs and more than $11 million in state income tax revenues.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Would immediately lose $54 million in payments to Idaho’s rural counties to cover costs associated with schools and roads.

To put this in perspective, the state of Idaho spent approximately $250 million last year from the General Fund on public safety (police, prisons, and judicial costs).

The study was conducted by Dr. Evan Hjerpe who has worked as a forest economist for more than a decade. The Net Present Valuation analysis relied upon assumptions contained in a 2013 economic analysis conducted by the Idaho Department of Lands, as well as data from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies.

"Idaho's forests and public lands are important for Idahoans and for all Americans. Idaho's economy and our public lands face very real challenges. We need to work together on practical solutions, not ideological pipe dreams," said Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior conservation associate at the Idaho Conservation League, which contracted the report. “This economic analysis clearly demonstrates that the State of Idaho would have little choice but to sell off our treasured public lands.”

The report is available online at

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Jonathan Oppenheimer

Senior Conservation Associate
Idaho Conservation League
PO Box 844, Boise, ID 83701
208.345.6933 x 26 • fax 208.344.0344 • cell 208.867.3505 http://www.idahoconservation.org Twitter: iclnaturerocks
Facebook: /idahoconservationleague

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