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Boulder-White Clouds Bill Passes Senate and Heads to Presidents Desk

August 4, 2015 Leave a comment
Castle Peak and Miriam Peak as seen from the air back in 2014. They are the more visible and well known parts of the Boulder-White Clouds.

Castle Peak and Miriam Peak as seen from the air back in 2014. These are the more visible and well known parts of the Boulder-White Clouds.

The United States Senate approved a bill today (8/4/15) that will create three new wilderness areas in central Idaho. A similar measure passed the House of Representatives last week and is known as the Boulder-White Clouds bill. If signed by President Obama, it will add strict protection to 275,000-acres north of Sun Valley in Blaine and Custer Counties.

The effort to create additional wilderness in Idaho has been directed by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson who began this effort more than a decade ago. The House passed the bill last week (July 27, 2015) and today (August 4, 2015) said “the passage of this bill is a huge victory for Idahoans who’ve worked for over 15 years to create a land management plan for the Boulder White Clouds,” said Simpson. “I am grateful for each and every person who participated in crafting this solution over the years and I am especially grateful to Senator Jim Risch who worked relentlessly to see this pass the U.S. Senate today.”

But despite support from a wide range of organizations, there is a feeling by some that wilderness wasn’t the better of two options. The second option on the table was a possible monument status that only needs Presidential authority. That power to designate a monument comes from the century old Antiquities Act. The difference, wilderness requires Congressional approval and provides stronger protections while a monument by Presidential authority could allow a wider mix of recreational use. The hardest part of wilderness for some is a reduction in groomed trails currently open to mountain bikers and ATV use. Wilderness prohibits motorized and mechanized travel.

Recreational groups have fought hard against Congressman Simpson’s efforts to create more wilderness. It stalled a bill introduced back in 2010 often known as CIEDRA which stands for “Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act.” Congressman Simpson has in recent years worked with recreation groups to help write the bill in it’s current form. As part of the deal, some of the trails open to motorized and mechanized vehicles will remain open. But there will be other trails that will be closed permanently.

Rick Johnson with the Idaho Conservation League said in a statement following today’s Senate action “from our perspective, this wilderness bill could have been stronger. The national monument proclamation ICL and others have been working towards over the last three years would have protected more acreage. However, we understand that legislation requires compromise. The conservation community had to give some—and so did other stakeholders. At the end of the day, we are pleased that one of Idaho’s most pristine wildernesses gets the lasting protection it deserves.”

To learn more about the Boulder-White Clouds, watch this video short – part of Idaho Public Television’s Outdoor Idaho “50-years of Wilderness.

I also teamed up with The Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker to produce this piece that offers more insight into the views of those on both sides of the wilderness/monument efforts.


To see a map of the area, click the link below that will direct you to a PDF file.

New Boulder White Clouds Wilderness areas

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A beautiful evening in the Salmon Valley

Salmon Valley this week. Still some snow on the mountains.


Oregon Field Guide: Columbia Gorge: The Fight for Paradise

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

ImageImagine a beautiful mountain side or river gorge that slowly disappeared as more homes, subdivisions and strip malls were constructed. That’s what the folks in Oregon dealt with over the past few decades. OPB’s Oregon Field Guide tackles the issue of preserving land from over development.

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Environmental Protection Falls to State Budget Cuts (AP Story)

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment


BOISE, Idaho – When lightning ignited a wildfire near Idaho’s Sun Valley in 2007, environmental regulators used monitoring gear to gauge the health effects for those breathing in the Sawtooth Mountains’ smoky, mile-high air. Read more…

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Salmon Recovery Timeline

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

TIMELINE: By Oregonian

1991/92: Federal government lists Snake River sockeye as an endangered species, others as threatened. Read more…

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Earth: A view from space.

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

The beautiful earth view from the International Space Station.

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November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)-Congressman Raúl Labrador (ID-01) announced today at a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol that he has co-sponsored the “Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act,” legislation that if enacted would permanently end all taxpayer subsidies for the energy industry. Read more…

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