Idaho Commissioner Building Support for Federal Lands Transfer

Official aims at building coalition of 100 western counties to support public ownership of lands

By Tristan Scott

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — An Idaho official is trying to garner support from counties in western states to legally challenge the government’s ownership of public lands.

The Lewiston Tribune reports Idaho County Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik is traveling this week with the goal of getting 100 counties to sign on to support the Western Landmark Foundation.

The foundation was formed in March with Chmelik as the registered agent. He says when 50 counties have signed up he’ll start asking supporters to contribute between $3,500 and $5,000 each toward a legal fund.

Chmelik says the hope is that the legal challenges will pressure the federal government into transferring the ownership of public lands to local governments. The foundation’s focus is on Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and New Mexico.

So far, Chmelik says he’s gotten commitments from at least eight Arizona counties.

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