Last week word came out that residents of the City of Boise and an environmental group had filed a lawsuit against the Mountain Home Air Force Base. The case is stemming from the base needing to perform training in an urban setting. Like most people in Elmore County and truthfully most people throughout the state this infuriated me.
Part of the lawsuit alleges that members of the public weren't given notice or enough time to comment. In my line of work I can tell you, without a doubt, that is absolutely not true. We published their notice for weeks, as other papers did, and they held an open house at our public library and many others throughout the area. I also have digital copies of the 396 pages of recorded comments received by the Air Force in this matter. As well as their responses to those questions.
I love the sound of our jets, seeing them in the air leaves me in awe and makes me feel safe knowing we have the greatest Air Force in the world training hard and making sure they are ready to deploy at any moment. Their expertise keeps us and their fellow servicemen on the ground safe. I respect an individual's right to speak out against the training, just remember it is these very men and women who you are trying to deny essential training to that ensure you keep that right.
As I started doing research on the lawsuit I was curious about this environmental group. The Great Old Broads, quite the name and they seem like quite the group.
Quite the group of attention seekers and a group whose website mainly consists of ways for them to make money.
I was hesitant at first to even give them a searchable article by mentioning their name. It seems like other then occasionally having a spotlight article written about them by like minded publications their only avenue to get the attention they seek is by jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon. Most Google hits are different links directing one to their website.
It's a flashy website with links to all of their different little retreats and rallies, where surprise, surprise, one is expected to pay money. There is also a store where you can shop for their merchandise and of course the donation button. I saw their mission statement where they said they are vested in saving the wilderness and I saw a bunch of links to different causes. But there was no meat to any of it.
Okay, so they are against public grazing, drilling, and motorized recreation. Why? All I see is a bunch of pictures of older ladies and their supporters holding signs. In their list of things they say they are against out of concern for the wilderness they mention pretty much everything Idaho and the Western states are. I don't see a real substantiated reason for anything that the group says they are trying to stop. At no point does their website direct you to a sound piece of research or any type of article giving a sound reason for anything.
You don't believe in the grazing of public lands? Then explain to me why you feel this way. I'll come right back and tell you that our ranchers are some of the best stewards of the land. That by managing grazing in a sustainable manner ranchers are able to use their cattle to help restore the regenerative nature of our land and are able to help mitigate rangeland and forestland wildfires. I do my research and I could list some of the reasons why some people are against grazing: the cattle aren't a native species, their hoofs tear up creek beds etc. For one thing cattle may not be native, but other hoofed herding animals are. Two, in order to keep a land allotment, ranchers have to abide by reparian areas and the effect a herd is having on an area of public land is closely monitored. The agricultural community's whole livelihood is based off of the land. The best interest of the land is their best interest.
You don't believe people should be able to access public lands through motorized means, because it destroys native habitat and spreads noxious weeds? Okay then, tell me how you are going to rectify this. Do you think saying that no one is able to access any of the public lands on a motorized vehicle is going to stop people from doing it? Don't get me wrong, there are areas where ATV's and other vehicles don't belong. I believe in having a minimal impact on nature, on not leaving signs of a human presence on the land. "Pack in and pack out," but closely monitoring all of these lands in Idaho is impossible. Research shows that the more people are able to enjoy an area of nature, the better taken care of it will be. When children grow up exploring the outdoors they take better care of it. When people enjoy getting out into their bigger backyard they help ensure that others take care of it. Then there is keeping public lands just that: public. If we don't enjoy them by getting out and using them and by sharing this experience with our children how are we to ensure that they still matter down the road. Idahoans are engaged with preserving our public lands and wilderness areas, because they are ours. They are ours to play in and we love them. Without that connection with them, eventually there would be a generation of people who don't care if they are sold off to the highest bidder and developed or stripped of their resources.
In one of the press releases on the group's site that details their many lawsuits they outline the reason they are suing San Juan County for supposedly violating a members Freedom of Speech. In the article it alleges their rights were violated because they are being criminally prosecuted. They then go on to say that they were arrested for locking a gate on a pasture or corral to keep a group of cattle from water. However, according to them nothing criminal transpired because the fence was tore down and the cattle were able to get to water. It doesn't say whether or not the cattle got so desperate that they tore down the fence or if the owner of them came and tore it down. Doesn't sound much like a group that really cares about nature to me. How do you justify letting a herd of animals die from lack of water because you are helping the environment?
By becoming affiliated with a group like this I have a hard time even beginning to want to listen to the reasoning of why the Boise residents felt the need to sue our military. You are who you hang with in my opinion.
To our Air Force neighbors and friends. Thank you for what you do, thank you for the months away from home and thank you for your service. We support you in your need to have more realistic training and we support you in everything you do for our country.
Let the sound of freedom roar.