Bipartisan legislation to permanently protect over 330,000 acres of wilderness in central Idaho has been introduced by the full Idaho delegation. Senators Mike Crapo (R) and Jim Risch (R) joined Congressmen Mike Simpson (R) and Walt Minnick (D) in sponsoring the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act. The bill seeks to designate some of the nation's most iconic, yet still unprotected National Forest lands as wilderness, while simultaneously working to ensure the economic sustainability of surrounding communities.
“It speaks volumes about the importance of this legislation and the balanced fashion in which it was crafted, that the entire Idaho delegation has joined together across party lines to introduce it,” said Marcia Argust of the Campaign for America's Wilderness at the Pew Environment Group. “Wilderness is truly the nation's common ground, providing places to hike, climb, fish, hunt and just get away.”
The bill was shaped from legislation first introduced by Representative Simpson six years ago. It will create three new wilderness areas in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests and the Challis District of the Bureau of Land Management – Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, White Clouds Wilderness, and Jerry Peak Wilderness—protecting some of the nation's natural crown jewels in the core of the Boulder-White Clouds range.
“We commend the Idaho delegation for working to permanently protect some of the nation's most spectacular wildlands in the heart of Idaho, while also addressing the economic needs of local communities and the concerns of other stakeholders at the negotiation table. The delegation upheld promises it made to ranchers, conservationists, off-road enthusiasts and elected officials. We urge Congress to pass the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act quickly and send it to the president,” said Argust.