Several Idaho legislators responded to an invitation from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to attend a conference on June 22nd. The conference was held to develop relationships between the White House and Idaho legislators.
Speakers included: Secretary Rick Perry, Dept. of Energy; Senator Mike Lee, Senator Orin Hatch and others. The most thrilling moment was when Vice President Mike Pence entered the room and spoke to the group. Upon leaving he wanted to have a group photo and said he would move to the middle of the room and have everyone in front of him sit and those next to and behind him to stand.
I immediately informed the Vice President that the middle of the room was right next to me! The room erupted in laughter and the Vice President stood next to me in the group picture. It was a moment I will never forget.
On Thursday, Representative Judy Boyle and I visited with many federal agencies concerning land use issues and policy. We first met with the Committee of Natural Resources Director and staff. Our main concern was the recent shooting by a BLM law enforcement agent of UTV occupants in Riverside, California. Similar use of force issues and federal trespass violations are common in Idaho.
We next went to meet with Department of Interior Assistant Secretary about grazing allotments, coordinated planning efforts with the USFS and agency law enforcement. Much of this discussion centered upon the current Assessment Plan for the Salmon-Challis National Forests and mining operation delays.
Our third meeting was with the USDA APHIS, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Wildlife Services. The Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs helped to facilitate this meeting to discuss the wolf situation in Idaho and depredation issues. The Deputy Administrator of APHIS was very responsive to our concerns about wolves severely impacting livestock operations in Idaho.
Finally, we visited the USDA Forest Service office and met with the Director of Forest Management, Rangelands and Vegetation Ecology about numerous issues my constituents have dealt with concerning the Salmon-Challis Forest planning effort. We met with the Director of Minerals and Geology Management regarding numerous mines in Idaho and the 10 plus years of permitting that has impeded employment opportunities for many Idahoans. He will check into the permitting issues I presented. Director of Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers was very responsive to our concerns for the Salmon-Challis residents with the massive number of Rivers being listed as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation.
Overall, Representative Boyle and I felt we made significant headway targeting appropriate agencies and their department heads with many issues of Idaho concern. All seemed anxious to help us as the new Trump administration appears to understand the need to open up economic development in rural America by eliminating roadblocks that have hampered economic opportunity for too long.