• Marc Johnson

Life in the West


When Bob Abbey, the director of the Bureau of Land Management, testified before Congress last year during his confirmation hearing he talked about the need for common sense communication around the many demands on the 256 million acres of our land that he manages.

“We can achieve our common goals and better serve the public by working together while we continue our discussions on issues where we might disagree,” Abbey told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

That statement is a pretty good summary of the 15 year old philosophy of the Andrus Center for Public Policy.

The Center, chaired by the former Idaho governor and Secretary of the Interior, will host Abbey and the nation’s other major land manager, Tom Tidwell, the Chief of the Forest Service, at a day long conference in Boise on May 1st.

Registration for the conference – Life in the West: People, Land, Water and Wildlife in a Changing Economy – began yesterday at the Center’s website.

As Dr. John Freemuth, the Boise State University political scientist who serves as the Center’s Senior Fellow, has written:

“Whether it is lost habitat, wolves, or the many other battles stemming from different values, many worry that a livable and familiar Idaho could slip away under economic and other pressures. At the grassroots level there have been a number of efforts and partnerships underway in Idaho that might have something to teach us about building necessary “civic capacity” as we try and grapple with this landscape level change at the state level. We want hear hear and learn from some people involved in these efforts, in order to better see what might be needed to build a sustainable political and social coalition to work successfully all around the state.

“This Andrus Center conference will develop a set of action items designed to build on current successes in Idaho and elsewhere and commit to a follow up of these action items over the next several years by tapping citizens and leaders committed to making our capacities grow.”

If you are one of the thousands of Idahoans who care deeply about the use and future of our public lands, you will want to be part of this conversation. As Cece Andrus has often said, the best ideas come about when people check their guns at the door, sit down together to understand the point of view of others and come away with common sense conclusions. The many thorny issues – energy, water, wildlife, access – that confront us in the West certainly need a common sense touch.

I hope you’ll join us on May 1st at Boise State University.

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©2021 by Marc C Johnson