Idaho wants to manage federal land, help counties

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho's rural counties want Washington, D.C., to let the state manage federal land to boost their finances amid threats to a program that's propped up their budgets.

The Idaho Land Board including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter threw its support behind a pilot program to place 200,000 acres of national forests under state Department of Lands' oversight.

The Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/qn0vMw ) reports the state would manage the land to benefit rural counties.

For eight years, counties have been the beneficiaries of a federal law that's replaced dwindling timber sale receipts. It sends about $13.7 million annually to Idaho.

But with national debt cutting a priority, that money is in doubt.

Despite Idaho's support, environmental groups and others are skeptical the federal government will turn over national forest land to state control.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com