Esto Perpetua

Idaho’s state motto as depicted in the state emblem is, Esto Perpetua, meaning, may this always last. The emblem shows an elk, representing wildlife and their habitat along with justice, agriculture and mining.

Like thirty-four other states, Idaho has never adopted an official state motto, per se. Instead, the motto Esto Perpetua was accepted as an element of the state seal.

This motto seems at odds with the current tide trying to shift ownership of public federal lands to states. It reminds me of the time a dog chased my truck. Having had enough of this particular dog, I slammed on the brakes and rolled down the window. “Well”, I said, “Now that you have caught it, what are you going to do with it?” The dog looked at me quizzically and then slinked off. I had apparently ruined his fun.

I worry that the proponents of this movement are much like this dog. For all the barking and chasing, if they actually catch this truck, would Idaho would be poised for proper management or would development interests swoop in and seize the opportunity at the public’s peril?

It does seem clear that their intent is to eviscerate irksome federal legislation, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, that requires the federal government to consider the impacts of proposed activities. As onerous as NEPA can be, it evolved because of abuses public lands suffered by development and commercial interests. It rightfully acknowledges that there are many opinions about how to best manage these lands, profit only being one of them.

Even our conservative governor doesn’t support a plan to turn federal lands over to the state. Last year, in a Capitol for a Day meeting in Dubois, this subject was raised and Governor Otter declared that Idaho cannot afford to shoulder the burden of these lands. Wild fire prevention and suppression alone would be more than Idaho could handle, he said. His reasoning is borne out by a recent study by the University of Idaho which found that accepting responsibility for federal lands could cost Idaho over $100 million a year.

When Yellowstone National Park was proposed around 1870, similar arguments were vetted. A small handful of developers sought to privatize the area and develop it into a series of spas and lodges for the wealthy.

I don’t know about you, but I am very glad that conservationists and not developers won that battle. A park for all the people, not just a select few, has served America well. I suspect that even the economic impacts of a national park far outweigh the short-term and short-sighted get-rich-quick-at-public-expense schemes that were the alternate future.

Esto Perpetua.   With that goal, we can have development and conservation too. It takes careful planning and forethought though. Too often we develop first and then try to mitigate for the ecological storms that follow. We need to turn that around so we don’t find ourselves like the dog and the truck—wondering what we are going to do with the mess we caught.


Wildlife License Plates

Idaho Wildlife license plates provide essential funding that benefits the great diversity of native plants and wildlife that are not hunted, fished or trapped—over 10,000 species or 98% of Idaho’s species diversity. Game species that share the same habitats (such as elk, deer, antelope, sage-grouse, salmon, trout) also benefit from these specialty plates.

No state tax dollars are provided for wildlife diversity, conservation education and recreation programs. Neither are any revenues from the sale of hunting or fishing licenses spent on nongame species. Instead, these species depend on direct donations, federal grants, fundraising initiatives—and the Idaho Wildlife license plates.

Both my vehicles have Bluebird Plates. I prefer the bluebird because the nongame program gets 70 percent of the money from bluebird plates, but only 60 percent of the money from elk and trout plates - 10 percent of the money from elk plates supports wildlife disease monitoring and testing programs (to benefit the livestock industry) and 10 percent from cutthroat plates supports non-motorized boat access.

Incidentally, in 2014, the Idaho Legislature denied the Department of Fish and Game the ability to add new plates or even to change the name of the elk and cutthroat plates (very specific) to wildlife and fish plates, a move that would have allowed for changing images occasionally and generating more revenue. It would seem that they believe that we Idahoans don't want a well funded wildlife program.

I think it is time we let the Legislature know that Idahoan support wildlife funding and that we would like to see these generic plates come to fruition.

"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 


Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho