Prospects for “wilderness bill” have now improved-
Walt Minnick, the Democrat who defeated incumbent nutwinger Bill Sali for Idaho First Congressional District, joined with Idaho Second District Representative, Republican Mike Simpson to reintroduce the controversial Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) on the first day of Congress.
With Democrats in control the prospects for the passage of the bill written by Simpson have increased as well as the possibility of making the legislation less damaging.
While the media often call it a “Wilderness bill” because it designates 318,765 acres in the Boulder Mountains and White Cloud Mountains as Wilderness, there are other aspects of the bill that many see as problems. We need to see the actual text of the bill to see if any of these have been removed.
- The problems are 3 wilderness areas with motorcycle trails splitting them when there is in fact one unified roadless area.
- A grant of about 5000 acres of federal public land to the counties. Many people believe they will be used for environmentally damaging purposes like subdivisions.
- Language subordinating federal water rights in the Wilderness to state water rights. This would have no practical effect, but opponents argue it is bad precedent.
- Large exclusions from the Wilderness to satisfy snowmobile interests, who have, nevertheless, continued to oppose the bill.
- No legislative guarantee of eliminating grazing, although the ICL says they have private voluntary grazing buyout money.
On the plus side, the bill would stop the slow degradation of the roadless area and put to rest the threat of mining.
Vehicles would be kicked off of a few trails.
The Jerry Peak Wilderness would protect high, rainshadowed mountains in the Challis Volcanics country that is at least fair wildlife habitat (and could be great if the cattle and sheep were eliminated).
Simpson brings CIEDRA back. Democrat Minnick now a co-sponsor. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer
Logging and timber are not issues in this legislation. Here is an old web page I put up on the roadless area. Lots of photos.