CASTLEFORD • Mike Crapo got an earful about management of federal lands when he stopped in Castleford Tuesday afternoon.
The Castleford Community Center was one of a dozen town hall stops the Republican U.S. senator made in the Magic Valley on Monday and Tuesday. Twin Falls County Commissioner and Castleford resident Terry Kramer first brought the lands issue up, saying that while states and counties don’t have the resources to manage the lands, many of them are being held back economically because they can’t tap into the natural resources.
“We like the federal lands, but what we need, I think, is cooperative management between the state and federal government,” Kramer said.
Several residents then voiced concerns about access for motorcyclists and ATV riders, saying environmental groups with the money to go to court have too much influence and federal officials seem to be biased against motorized users.
“They’ve already got this mentality, ‘You’re the bad guys,’ as soon as they talk to you,” one man said of the Forest Service.
Crapo, who supports increased state management, largely agreed with the crowd of a couple dozen, and said he wants to move “away from a litigation and conflict mode” of management and toward one that brings more groups in on the decision-making.
Federal regulations in general, including environmental and land-related regulations, were a major point both in Crapo’s prepared presentation and with the crowd. While Crapo lamented the growth of regulations, he wasn’t optimistic that many of them will get rolled back.
“It comes back to the fact that we need the votes and elections have consequences,” he said.
The 300 refugees, some of them Syrian, who are expected to come to the Magic Valley in October were a much-discussed topic at Crapo’s town halls on Tuesday in Filer, Hollister, and Hagerman, his spokesman Lindsay Nothern said. A few people brought the issue up in Castleford, too.
Crapo told the crowd he hadn’t yet read, but would read, a bill that was introduced by Texas Rep. Brian Babin on July 29 to end all admission of refugees into the United States until a study can be done of how much they cost in federal benefits. The bill has no co-sponsors. Nothern said that Crapo plans to study the topic more and reach out to Babin and the relevant federal agencies, and he didn’t know yet whether Crapo would back the legislation.
Crapo told the Times-News in July that he understands the need for a refugee program. When responding to someone at Tuesday’s town hall who brought up terrorist attacks that have been carried out by refugees, Crapo said that, while he doesn’t disagree about the dangers, there are people who should be allowed in as refugees, such as human trafficking victims. Crapo did say he wants to know more about the State Department’s vetting process. After the town hall, Crapo said he still has questions he’s trying to get answered.
Crapo is running for re-election to a fourth term in 2016. So far, Timothy Raty of Idaho Falls, and Pro-Life, a person who changed his name from Marvin Richardson and who ran for governor last year, have said they intend to challenge him. Several Democrats are considering it too, but none have declared, state party spokesman Dean Ferguson said Tuesday.
There’s another big election next year, too — for president. Crapo said a number of the candidates in last week’s GOP debate stood out to him, mentioning Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush by name. He also said he had read good things about Carly Fiorina’s performance in the undercard debate held before the main one.
Crapo said he was concerned about the possibility of Donald Trump running a third-party candidacy and drawing votes away from the Republican nominee. When asked his opinion of Trump after the meeting, Crapo said the other candidates would be wise to pay attention to his message and the response he’s been getting.
“I think he’s touched a chord of feelings that people across the country are feeling about their frustration with government,” Crapo said.