As news recently broke about Idaho garnering the honor of being the fastest growing state in the nation, citizens across the Gem State have expressed mixed feelings. Those mixed feelings pose an important question. With a growing population of approximately 1.65 million and growing, does this population boom put Idaho more prominently on the roadmap or is that the center of the problem?
Idahoans have always been proud to boast their natural resources. Our expansive forest land holds plenty of beauty and wonder. No matter where you are in Idaho, there is always beauty to be found, from the lakes of the panhandle to the Snake River Canyon’s Shoshone Falls.
These wonders are part of the reason we are seeing this influx of people. People across the nation are hearing the stories of our outdoor beauty. These people are very intrigued by the thought of living so close to their favorite outdoor activities — many of which can be fulfilled by moving here.
Because of the flock of people wanting to move to Idaho, many Idahoans feel that our public resources are starting to feel crowded and less pristine. With more people than ever moving here, that feeling will only worsen.
Along with our resources, another draw to the state is the economy. Our agricultural industry is drawing huge attention, with large manufacturing firms, such as Chobani and Clif Bar, having planted roots in the state. Technology companies, like Micron, continue to add new jobs and lead industry innovation with their Idaho workforce. There are plenty of jobs to fill across the state, and economy is willing to generously give back to those who come.
Not only is this great to hear for our workforce, but also for our universities. Recruitment and investment into our state’s institutions can all be attributed in one way or another to population growth.
As a young person coming from a rural, agricultural area of southern Idaho, I have seen the firsthand effects from urban sprawl. Not only does it make it very difficult for our farmers and ranchers to conduct their business, but these residential areas are taking away valuable land and resources we depend on.
Many people are also seeing an increase of traffic in urban areas. Living in the Treasure Valley last summer, I saw more traffic than ever before. One point of living in Idaho that people love is being able to have the big city jobs and a big city feel, while not having the consequences of a big city, such as high traffic. However, as our population concentration starts to increase, those consequences are inevitable.
For those who see this population growth as a problem, there is really only one solution — compromise. Growth is inevitable. We must embrace it and help bring this new population into our community and show them our core Idahoan values.
Cole Lickley can be reached at email@example.com