Idaho: Are wilderness bills really wilderness bills anymore?

Some of the biggest gripes environmentalists have about the recent
spat of not-so-wilderness bills has come from Idaho’s Wilderness
proposals. And even though I only live one state away I’m not too sure
about the devil in the details of this particular bill. What I do know
is that any bill that wants to turn a “recreation” area into a
“wilderness” area is suspect of not just rearranging the deck chairs
on the Titanic, but also… is it ok if I also intuit collusion with
local RealEstate interests? Or perhaps that’d be inappropriate?

Stepping in to lend a hand to Idaho’s senior member of the U.S House
of Representatives is Idaho’s newest congressman, Rep. Walt Minnick,
D-Idaho, who signed on as a co-sponsor. Just after their swearing-in
ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Simpson and Minnick formally
reintroduced the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act
into the 111th session of Congress.

“Walt knows first-hand the
importance of CIEDRA and I’m thrilled he’s joining me in the quest,”
Simpson said in a prepared statement. The legislation would designate
318,765 acres in the two scenic alpine ranges as congressionally
designated wilderness. Most of the lands targeted for wilderness
designation are within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, with a
small share in the northern Boulders dropping over into U.S. Bureau of
Land Management lands south of Challis. Minnick predicted this will be
just the first example of the kind of partnership Idahoans can expect
between the state’s two U.S. Representatives. He credited Simpson for
his work to bring often opposing sides together to protect the
Boulder-White Clouds region. “Mike deserves high praise for his work
and for setting a new standard on the collaborative approach to
wilderness designation,” he said. “I pledge to him and to the many
others involved that I will do all I can to help pass CIEDRA.” The
legislation would designate a 110,438-acre Hemingway-Boulders
Wilderness within sight of Ketchum in the southern Boulder Mountains.
Farther to the north and east, the bill would establish a 76,657-acre
White Clouds Wilderness and a 131,670-acre Jerry Peak Wilderness.
CIEDRA also proposes to convey more than 5,000 acres of public land to
Stanley and Custer County and release 131,616 acres of wilderness
study areas from consideration for wilderness designation.

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