World famous fisheries need our help

I subscribe to Bud Lillys fly shop updates and this came across my inbox today.  I had no idea this was going on.  Henry’s Fork is one of my favorite places to fish so I want to get involved as much as I can.  Here is the email:

Anglers – Harriman State Park and it’s world famous “Railroad Ranch” are in danger of being closed to the public. The Idaho State of the State and Budget Address calls to close this and all other Idaho State Parks by 2011. To sign a petition asking Idaho’s Governor Otter to keep the Parks and Recreation Department and the Railroad Ranch, go to: www.saveidahoparks.com Your help and electronic signature is needed to keep this wilderness and fishing treasure available to every angler. Thank you.

Here is some other information I found:

Article taken from Rexburg Standard Journal

Is future of Harriman State Park at stake?

ASHTON — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s proposal Monday to eliminate the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has prompted concerns from the director of the Henry’s Fork Foundation about the proposal’s effect on the future of Harriman State Park.

Otter has recommended what he describes as an “agency consolidation.” He recommends transferring the Department of Parks and Recreation’s property and operation management functions to the Department of Lands and transferring the license and registration function to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

According to the governor’s office’s budget proposal, the net savings in general fund expenditures from the consolidation is about $4.5 million and a reduction of 25 full-time positions.

Foundation Executive Director Steve Trafton says he is concerned that the elimination of Parks and Recreation Department will result in the loss of Harriman State Park, and possibly other state lands and facilities.

“IDPR was established in 1965, in large part the result of the gift of Harriman State Park by the Harriman family to the state,” Trafton says. “The family made their gift on the condition (among others) that a professional state agency be created to manage the park. Since then, IDPR has grown to include more than two dozen parks all over the state, providing a wide range of recreational activities to the people of Idaho and to countless visitors from around the country and the world,” Trafton says.

He says he’s concerned about the loss to the people of Idaho of the lands and facilities managed by the agency.

“At no place will this loss be more obvious than at the park that started the agency: Harriman,” Trafton says. “This stunning 11,000-acre park with its 8 miles of the Henry’s Fork is an international destination, arguably the most famous trout river in the world and one of Idaho’s most recognizable landscapes.”

Trafton says his understanding is that according to the agreement between the Harriman family and the state, the park must revert to the family should the state default on any of the provisions of the agreement, including that of the provision of a managing agency.

“The value of Harriman State Park cannot be measured in dollars and cents,” Trafton says in a statement prepared in response to the governor’s recommendations.

He calls the governor’s proposal “a short-sighted, short-term decision that will be permanently harmful.”

“No benefactor will ever consider making such a gift to the state again,” Trafton predicts. He says the Henry’s Fork (which flows through Harriman) generates an estimated $30 million dollars in revenue to the local economy each year, according to studies conducted by researchers at Colorado State University and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “If we look at the park in financial terms, Harriman is at the heart of the Henry’s Fork’s attraction to anglers from all over the world,” he says. “Those dollars generated by the river may not be making it directly into the state’s coffers, but they are helping to drive the Fremont County economy.”

In his speech, the governor says, “… the budget recommendations I bring you today are based on the fact that it is not state government’s money. It is the people’s money.

“As a result, these recommendations are responsibly conservative. They were developed with great care, deliberation and a full understanding of their consequences – real and perceived.

“Those changes (recommended) are meant to be permanent – based on a philosophy of government that recognizes our responsibility to individual Idahoans rather than to government itself.”

Besides Harriman State Park, the Department of Parks and Recreation also runs Henry’s Lake State Park in Fremont County and was in the process of improving the Ashton to Tetonia Rail to Trail for public use.

Trafton says he will be working closely with Trout Unlimited to get the word out about the governor’s recommendations to both organizations’ constituents.

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