Commissioners set public meeting on Caribou Habitat issue

Friday, March 30, 2012

Boundary County Commissioners will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Becker Auditorium at Bonners Ferry High School for everyone concerned about a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to set aside more than 600 square miles of North Idaho and eastern Washington as critical habitat for the Woodland Caribou.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also hold a public informational meeting on the issue from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28, also in the Becker Auditorium, to be followed by a public hearing from 2 to 5 p.m., during which citizens will be able to provide formal comments on the proposal.

“The commissioner’s meeting is being held so that people interested in the proposal can ask questions and learn exactly what that proposal entails, so they have accurate information and data upon which to base their formal testimony at the public hearing or in writing,” said Commission Chair Ron Smith.

Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be on hand during the commissioner’s meeting to answer questions and explain the proposal.

Also attending to learn the details of the proposal will be Boundary County civil counsel Phil Robinson, Idaho Senators Shawn Keough and Joyce Broadsword, Representatives Eric Anderson and George Eskridge, and representatives from the offices of Idaho Governor Butch Otter, U.S. Senators James Risch and Mike Crapo and U.S. Representative Raul Labrador.

“As commissioners, we are encouraged that our state and federal representatives have agreed to be here to listen to the concerns and fears of Boundary County citizens,” Smith said. “They were all supportive and instrumental in bringing about resolution of the ordeal Jeremy Hill and his family went through, and they’ve all acknowledged their support of our concerns on the caribou issue.”

On learning of the caribou habitat proposal, County Commissioners took action and were successful in obtaining a 60-day extension of the initial USFWS deadline for written comment through May 21, 2012, as well as in bringing the informational meetings and a formal public hearing to Boundary County.

“This is an issue of grave concern for a lot of Boundary County residents, and it’s our hope, as county commissioners, that people will avail themselves the opportunity to learn all they can so that their formal comments, either written or verbal, will be more effective,” Smith said.

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