Montana Governor Steve Bullock will be the keynote speaker at Why Public Lands Matter, a full-day conference beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 28, in the Student Union Building Jordan Ballroom at Boise State University.
While Westerners may disagree on which activities should take precedence in certain places, most agree that these lands belong to all. Recent events, including the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, have underscored the importance of open public spaces in western economies, culture and imagination, as well as the need for sound public lands management.
The conference, hosted by The Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State, is designed to examine current federal management, the various voices in support and dissent and potential stakeholder collaboration. It also will explore best practices to protect and preserve public lands for future generations.
Registration is $50 and includes all speakers, panels, lunch and a reception.
The conference will highlight the importance of federal public lands to all Americans. “The events surrounding the occupation of the Malheur Refuge and renewed calls to transfer or ostensibly claim our federally managed public lands have alarmed people, not just in the West but throughout the country,” said Andrus Center Executive Director John Freemuth.
The conference will begin with a welcome from Gov. Cecil D. Andrus and conclude with an evening reception. Panel topics include a retrospective on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and discussions of successful collaborations. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden will give a presentation on legal theories for and against federal land ownership.
“Public Lands are critical to the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat, watersheds and antiquities,” Freemuth added. “They’re a critical source of outdoor recreation such as hiking, fishing and hunting. And, they’re an important economic engine driving tourism and the dollars it brings to the states in which these lands reside. When we talk about what should happen on our public lands, we are practicing democracy.”
The Andrus Center for Public Policy, housed in the Boise State School of Public Service, advances the legacy issues of former Idaho Governor and Secretary of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus – wise use of our environmental resources and public lands, proper funding of education for our children and the cultivation of leadership from all segments of our society.