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Environment and Public Lands

Wise use of our public lands and collaborative land-use decisions through stakeholder inclusive conversations are at the heart of the Andrus Center.  As former Secretary of the Interior, Cecil D. Andrus holds one of the greatest conservation records in American history.  In his words, “I remain hopeful that I will be able to pass on to my grandchildren all the pleasures of life in an unspoiled West. Perhaps hope should be replaced by a stronger word. It is a matter of obligation.”

SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 16, 2024

White clods

The 2024 Andrus Center Environmental Conference will focus clean energy on Public Lands. This conference will be held in-person on Tuesday, April 16th at Boise State University Student Union building. Save the date! 

The Emerging Energy Transition: Risks and Opportunities for Western Public Lands

Previous Conferences

2023 – Re-creating Public Land Recreation 

On Tuesday, April 18th, 2023, the Andrus Center hosted an in person environmental conference focused on recreation and public lands with an eye towards resolving tensions and furthering best practices. Conference speakers represented Federal and Tribal land managers, State and Local governments, and NGO and business leaders with expertise in recreation. Panel discussions centered on three themes:

  • Collaboration, especially working across jurisdictional proximities;
  • Funding, especially to overcome infrastructure and operational shortfalls;
  • Policy, especially shortfalls of current laws and policies.

A post-event paper is forthcoming, but recordings are available now on the Andrus Center Youtube Channel.

2022 – Sawtooth NRA at 50: Our Legacy and Future Challenges

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area was created 50 years ago to protect the iconic mountain landscapes of Central Idaho. Rather than create a National Park, Congress believed that a National Recreation Area would preserve the natural, scenic, historic, pastoral, and fish and wildlife values while also providing a recreational playground for Idahoans and the nation.

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the Andrus Center for Public Policy hosted a one-day virtual conference to explore how well this vision has been achieved, and to assess the protection challenges likely in store for this sanctuary of wilderness peaks, flowery meadows, and mountain lakes over the next 50 years. The Center was pleased to convene a series of keynote speakers and panels that include many of the diverse perspectives on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area’s past and future challenges.  Recordings are found on the Andrus Center YouTube channel here. The post-event paper will be available soon.

2021 – Energy, Salmon, Agriculture and Community: REVISITED

On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the Andrus Center hosted a two-year check-in virtual event revisiting the 2019 groundbreaking Environmental Conference, Salmon, Energy, Agriculture, and Community: Can We Come Together? More than 375 people joined online to hear from Tribal and Congressional elected officials, and representatives from a number of interests across the Columbia River Basin. Attendees heard Rep. Simpson say, “After studying this issue and the life cycles and the recovery efforts that have been made in the past, the science dictates either removal of these lower four Snake River dams or the extinction of the Snake River salmon.” Read the post-event White Paper.

2019 – Energy, Salmon, Agriculture, and Community: Can We Come Together?

The Pacific Northwest now faces two interconnected crises that can only be solved together – assuring our region’s energy system emerges reliable and affordable from the technological and market changes roiling it and reversing the continuing decline towards the extinction of many Columbian Basin wild salmon and steelhead, especially those in the Snake River. To make durable progress on these vital linked issues, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho must come together to resolve them. The conference is designed to encourage action and discussion toward such resolution and to bring together the leaders and groups who can find and implement a long-term plan that meets everyone’s needs.

2018 – Idaho’s Water: Supply and Quality in a Time of Growth

A conference to address issues with Idaho’s water supply and water quality in the context of rapid population growth and climate change in southern Idaho.  Some questions the conference considered: (1) The ability to manage Idaho’s water supplies for a rapidly growing population in the Treasure Valley where there is a continued reduction in acres of irrigated agricultural land, (2) How other states deal with changes in water use and growth, and (3) Water quality implications with urbanization of agricultural land and related issues with water quality downstream of the Boise River where it meets the Snake River.

2017 – Why Public Lands Matter

A conference designed to look at current public lands management practices, the various voices in support and dissent, and potential stakeholder collaboration toward forward-looking best practices designed to manage, protect, and preserve our public lands for the generations to follow.

2015 – Western Invasive Weed Summit

The purpose was to convene a summit of federal departments (i.e., DOI, USDA, DOC, etc) and agencies, state and local government agencies, tribes and key non-government organizations to review existing invasive species mandates and programs, and to set a coordinated plan of action for invasive plant management in the West.

The goal of the summit was to build on the recent Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) publication, Invasive Plant Management and Greater Sage-grouse Conservation: A Review and Status Report with Strategic Recommendations for Improvement (Ielmini et al 2015). We refined the report’s challenges and barriers and developed recommendations for securing adequate and consistent program funding at local, state, and federal levels.

We identified federal department orders and other directions for accelerating invasive weed management activities at all levels to meet the needs of GRSG conservation across the western United States. The final product of the Summit was the development of an Action Plan to help guide state and federal agencies, local governments and private entities in a coordinated and effective approach to addressing this important conservation issue.