Idaho and South Dakota Wilderness Bills Get Senate Subcommittee Hearing

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Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee today heard testimony on two federal bills, which together would add over 378,000 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System. 

The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), S. 3294, introduced by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID), will permanently protect more than 330,000 acres of Forest Service land in the central part of the state.  The Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act of 2010 (S. 3310), sponsored by Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), would preserve 48,000 acres of National Grasslands a short drive from Rapid City. 

“We are pleased to see these important conservation measures move ahead in the legislative process,” said Marcia Argust with the Campaign for America's Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group.  “Both bills are the result of lawmakers reaching out to a wide cross-section of interests, listening to concerns, and finding common ground to move forward.”

The proposal for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho meets the needs of key stakeholders by providing federal land and $6 million to local communities for public facilities like fire stations and health clinics, facilitating $3 million in assistance for ranchers, providing 330,000 acres of land protection, and keeping open the most popular motorized trails for off-road enthusiasts.  “The Idaho bill will safeguard some of the nation's most spectacular wild lands,” said Argust.  “This measure represents legislating at its best—a balanced, fair approach that provides benefits for the land, recreationists, and the economy.” 
   
The South Dakota legislation has the distinction of creating America's only grasslands wilderness. ”A piece of our nation's cultural heritage will be preserved by leaving these prairie landscapes just as they were when our pioneer ancestors first experienced this land,” said Argust.”  As with all wilderness bills, established grazing will continue, as well as hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and rock collecting.

“We hope Congress will move quickly to pass both bills, and other pending measures to protect wilderness, as a gift to future generations,” Argust added.

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