Author: Rep. Russ Fulcher
Over the past two years, we have seen many changes to Idaho and our Nation. From the radical new direction of the Biden Administration to the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic to the thousands of new people entering the Gem State every month, things are much different from they were when 2019 started. However, one thing that remains the same is my commitment to serving the people of Boundary County and Idaho’s First Congressional District.
Roughly 74% of Boundary County’s land is controlled by the federal or state government. As the Congressional Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands, I am actively engaged in many efforts to ensure public access and responsible management continue on federal land. I know how important it is for the residents of Boundary County — and everyone who lives in North Idaho — to have access to Forest Service land for recreation and hunting.
Forest management is also vital. The decisions made by the National Forest Service in Washington, D.C., affect Boundary County residents on a day-to-day basis. Without proper management, fuel loads will be too high, and forest fires can become far more devastating.
A reduction in timber harvesting has a large impact on the area’s mill workers and the men and women who work as loggers, truck drivers, and other jobs throughout the industry.
Over the past 20 years, significant progress has been made on collaborative management practices. This has been a welcome departure from the past, where federal bureaucrats dictated timber policy to rural areas with little consideration for local residents. I am committed to seeing this collaboration continue and ensuring that the voice of Boundary County is heard when it comes to federal land decisions.
I also recognize that the large footprint of federal land in the county has a huge impact on local government and school systems. That is why I am a strong supporter of the Secure Rural Schools Act. This law provides funds for counties like Boundary County that take a big hit because so much of the land in their jurisdiction is not taxable. I am co-sponsoring legislation to reauthorize this vital source of funding for Boundary County’s schools.
While the challenges of having a large amount of federal land ar widespread across Idaho, one issue that is unique to Boundary County is the border with Canada. The COVID-related border shutdown has hurt many Boundary County businesses, in part because of the loss of Canadian visitors. It has also disrupted families and harmed workers overall.
Last year, I repeatedly urged the Trump Administration to outline a way to open the Northern border to more traditional travelers and commerce. While it was necessary to adjust travel provisions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, our federal government should have a clear plan for reopening border travel. Along with Congressional members from both sides of the aisle, I have asked the Biden Administration to develop a plan to reopen the border. With pathogen acquired immunity, the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine and our nation returning to normal, it is time for families, workers, consumers, and tourists who cross between Boundary County and Canada to be able to resume normal life.
From talking with countless fellow Idahoans, I also know and appreciate the concerns about the Biden Administration’s aggressive actions to increase federal gun control. As a consistently strong defender of the Second Amendment, I share those concerns. As we see from the president’s anti-gun nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), our rights are under threat like never before. I will continue to vigorously oppose any gun control legislation and work against regulations and executive orders that infringe upon our God-given rights.
I recently co-sponsored legislation to provide lawful gun owners with due process protections when the federal government wrongfully denies them their rights to purchase a firearm. Another bill I am supporting would ensure that BATFE does not abuse its authority to classify pistols as rifles for the purposes of criminalizing millions of gun owners who use stabilizing braces.
As 2021 continues, and as we see the proposals and regulatory changes brought by the Biden Administration, please let my office know about any federal issues of concern. I am here to represent you and stand up for Idaho values like limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the wise use of our natural resources. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your representative in Congress.