Idaho GOP governor: Climate change is real, must be reversed

Source: By Keith Ridler, Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Idaho’s collaborative efforts with federal agencies, conservation groups, industries and residents have put the state out front in tackling tough environmental problems involving forests, rangelands, water uses and other issues, Gov. Brad Little said Wednesday.

The 64-year-old Republican sworn into office earlier this month shocked some at the Idaho Environmental Forum by declaring that climate change is real and will have to be dealt with.

Speaking on the 17th floor of the Zions Bank in Boise with the snowcapped Boise foothills as a backdrop, Little responded to a question from the audience about climate change by recalling the deep snow he had to work in during the winters while growing up on a ranch. He said those types of winters are less frequent.

“Climate is changing, there’s no question about it,” he said. “Sometimes what you do from a regulatory standpoint might be counter to what the right thing to do is, but you’ve got to recognize it. It’s here. We’ve just got to figure out how we’re going to cope with it. And we’ve got to slow it down. Now, reversing it is going to be a big darn job.”

Little said the state has made good progress in working with agencies in the U.S. departments of the Interior and Agriculture.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” he told the crowd of more than 300. “When I visit at the federal level, both at the Interior and Agriculture, they appreciate what’s taking place in Idaho. We’ve got a long way to go, but I like the trajectory about what’s taking place.”

He cited a program called the Good Neighbor Authority that has the Idaho Department of Lands helping the Forest Service on federal timber sales and restoration projects. Last month, Little, then lieutenant governor, signed with then-Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) a Shared Stewardship agreement with the Agriculture Department that they said will help protect national forests in Idaho from destructive wildfires through logging and restoration work.

Conservation groups are generally supportive of the agreement but have said they will be vigilant about where logging occurs, especially if it involves older growth.