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Tribes make case for public lands during hearing

If anyone has a right to public land in Idaho, it's the Indian tribes, a panel was told this week.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Leaders of three Native American tribes say they should have the first option if any of Idaho’s 32 million acres of federal land are ever transferred to state control.

Tribal leaders were one of several interest groups to testify Monday before the Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee meeting. Others included ranchers, timber industry executives, environmentalists and sportsmen.

The committee is studying the pros and cons of a resolution approved by lawmakers earlier this year demanding that the federal government cede most of the public land in Idaho to the state. The committee is scheduled to issue a report to the Legislature in 2015.

Coeur d’Alene Tribe lobbyist Helo Hancock said if Congress transfers title to any lands, the acreage should be handed over to their original owners — the tribes.



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