Promoting county interests, advocating good public policy
and providing education to Idaho's county officials

Public Lands Committee

The Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) Public Lands Committee is responsible for all matters relating to federal and state owned public lands, including tax immunity problems, federal and state land management programs, natural resources, endangered species and all matters relating to the Native Americans residing within the state of Idaho.

  • Chair

    Wayne Butts
    (Custer County)

  • Vice Chair

    Mark Bair
    (Bingham County)

  • IAC Staff Liaison

    Seth Grigg



Idaho’s county governments have a critical role in the planning and management of acres of federally and state owned lands within the state of Idaho.  Idaho’s counties have the land use planning and zoning responsibility in unincorporated areas surrounding public lands and should expect acknowledgement of local policy by public land agencies.  In counties with a high percentage of public land, federal and state decisions can influence social and economic stability.  In some cases, consideration of these impacts has not been satisfactory in legislation, regulation or implementation by federal and state government.  Idaho’s county officials are elected to represent and express the economic, social and environmental concerns of local citizens directly affected by public land management decisions.  Policies and plans of federal and state agencies should be formed collaboratively and take into account the land use plans and policies of Idaho’s counties whenever possible.

County Involvement

The Idaho Association of Counties believes that in all potential actions by state and federal agencies, by Congress and the Idaho Legislature, consultation with Idaho’s county elected officials is a most fundamental principle.  Federal and state agencies with public lands management responsibilities should actively seek county official participation in the planning process and that involvement shall not reasonably be withheld.  Historically, the socioeconomic impacts have been  underestimated or ignored and has had the effect of destabilizing local economies.  Community stability is of primary importance, not only morally, but also to enable the success of culturally appropriate multiple-use management practices on public lands.


Protection of the environment has increased in importance in the decision-making process at all levels of government.  Idaho’s county officials, representing the concerns of their constituents, are keenly aware of the rich heritage, the beauty, and the natural resources of their local environment.

However, the environmental and socioeconomic issues must be considered to achieve a solution, which balances a high degree of environmental protection with the preservation and enhancement of local communities.  Therefore, environmental impact statements required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) should carefully consider local economic values and concerns.

Public Land

Federal and state real property holdings should be maintained at a minimum level.  Acquisition of new land by a federal or state agency should be offset with a similar relinquishment by trade or sale of public land to private ownership within the same county.  If additional federal or state land acquisitions are necessary without offset, financial impact to local government agencies reflecting the loss of tax base must be disclosed.  Since these issues are critical, the IAC supports the establishment and the maintenance of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Public Lands Trust Fund for the purpose of promoting and defending the interests of counties as they relate to federal lands.

Native American Land

IAC recognizes the status of Native Americans and their authority to govern their own people and lands.  At times, counties and Native Americans come into conflict because of this sovereignty and the fact that there is private ownership of lands within the confines of a reservation.  IAC further recognizes that Congress has created through its inconsistent policies, uncertainty and conflict between Native Americans and state and local governments.

Therefore, IAC supports the creation of a relationship with Idaho’s Native American Tribes based upon respect for each party’s position and an understanding of issues of mutual concern.  The IAC supports the use of NACo as a forum to resolve issues and relationships between Native American Tribes and counties on a national level.

Land and Resource Management Practive

Historically, the primary goal of public lands management in the United States has been to encourage development of the natural resources.  This is not only true of activities which are usually considered traditional, such as timber harvesting, mining and grazing, but also for such activities as wildlife management, fish hatcheries, tourism and recreation.  Local economies based on these principles and practices have evolved naturally over time and form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Multiple-use management, tailored to individual communities, is the primary concept by which federal and state land use decisions should continue to be made.  IAC strongly supports this philosophy as the best manner to provide a wide diversity of compatible activities on both federal and state lands.  Where appropriate to the local culture, this should include increased maintenance of roads to maximize utilization of public lands under the multiple-use concept and construction of new access when determined to be necessary for the multiple-use concept.

Long Range Planning

IAC supports a collaborative approach to the formulation of long-range land use plans on federally and state owned lands in Idaho. Inclusion and consultation of the local populous has been proven to improve the acceptance and implementation of the final planning product.

IAC supports the sale or transfer, at fair market value, of federal and state lands for commercial, industrial and other uses, where the sale is not in conflict with federal or state agency plans and where it is in the public interest.  IAC supports the transfer of federal and state lands for the expansion of existing communities, public infrastructure, and for the development of new communities and towns.

Administrative Protection of Public Lands

After extensive debate and studies, Congress has enacted comprehensive laws to govern the management and protection of the nation’s public lands.  These acts include the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974, and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 that amended RPA.  These Acts provide for the administrative protection of public lands with unique resources, which are eligible for special use designation.  These Acts require public involvement and an intergovernmental approach for the affected county governments.  IAC supports this approach to designation of all special use areas.  Before designation of any special area, public hearings must be held in the counties affected by the designation.

The IAC supports congressional or legislative designation of special use areas only when endorsed by the affected Idaho county government once studies indicate no adverse local economic impact.  IAC will oppose any federal or state special use proposals when they are in conflict with officially adopted land use plans, or when a county (or counties) does not endorse the proposal.


Name County
Mike Paradis Adams County Commissioner
Viki Purdy Adams County Commissioner
Sara Sexton Benewah County Treasurer
Dick Fosbury Blaine County Commissioner
John David Davidson Blaine County Treasurer
Jeff Connolly Bonner County Commissioner
Dave Radford Bonneville County Commissioner
Dan Dinning Boundary County Commissioner
Bryce Somsen Caribou County Commissioner
Dwight Davis Cassia County Assessor
Greg Shenton Clark County Commissioner
Rick Winkel Clearwater County Commissioner
Dawn Erlewine Clearwater County Treasurer
Lura Baker Custer County Clerk
Josh Dison Elmore County Assessor
LeRoy Miller Fremont County Commissioner
Jordon Stoddard Fremont County Commissioner
Ron Buhler Gooding County Commissioner
Skip Brandt Idaho County Commissioner
Scott Hancock Jefferson County Commissioner
Marc Eberlein Kootenai County Commissioner
Mike McDowell Kootenai County Assessor
Rick Snyder Lemhi County Commissioner
Brett Barsalou Lemhi County Commissioner
Rebecca Wood Lincoln County Commissioner
Ann Youts Lincoln County Treasurer
Toni Gruenwald Owyhee County Assessor
Jerry Hoagland Owyhee County Commissioner
Kelly Aberasturi Owyhee County Commissioner
Joe Merrick Owyhee County Commissioner
Jerry White Shoshone County Assessor
Ellen Masterson Shoshone County Treasurer
Cindy Riegel Teton County Commissioner
Bob Heneage Teton County Commissioner
Billie Jean Siddoway Teton County Prosecuting Attorney
Beverly Palm Teton County Treasurer
Gordon Cruickshank Valley County Commissioner
Kirk Chandler Washington County Commissioner