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.

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  • 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.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

13 Responses to Idaho's one Democrat, Minnick, teams with Simpson to reintroduce CIEDRA

  1. avatar Jay says:

    If this bill is introduced without changes, I will fight this tooth and nail, and I hope everyone else does too. The previous version was going to give 5000 some-odd acres of YOUR public lands to C(l)uster County to sell off to the developers to add more subdivisions and McMansions. Sure it would be nice if the SNRA was wilderness, but it’s managed pretty well right now, great place for wildlife AND recreation, and it doesn’t mean a public land giveway to give it a wilderness pedigree (which it wouldn’t really be, since it has clauses written up for motorized use in certain areas).

  2. avatar kt says:

    And the wretched Boulder White Clouds Bill also very likely would RELEASE to new and expanded cattle development projects and who knows what potential transmission lines or other energy projects – 80,000 acres of BLM WSAs. 80,000 acres is over 100 SQUARE MILES.

    Word is the Middle Snake Sierra Club now (at least as of last fall) is trying to embrace it. I smell some leaders in this the Sierra Club going after PEW funding behind it all …

  3. avatar matt bullard says:

    It probably goes without saying, but I support this bill (along with the efforts to make it better) because it will severely limit/curtail motorized incursions into this landscape, even with the proposed corridors that bisect the three areas. I believe the benefits of the bill outweigh the already well known negatives, including the land exchanges, which have been greatly limited themselves from earlier versions. I’m not aware of any “pure” wilderness bills – even the Frank Church has concessions. I hope that folks can at least acknowledge some of the benefits that would come from this. I respect the opinions of those who disagree, but I hope the discussion doesn’t denigrate into the personal realm as it has when this topic has come up in the past…

  4. avatar Jay says:

    Matt, you say the land “exchanges” “have been greatly limited from earlier versions”. First, could you explain how giving federal land to the counties is an “exchange”? Using public lands to bribe local communities into accepting a change in the designation of lands that are already federally owned is not an exchange by my definition. Secondly, I have read the first version, but not any revisions since its reintroduction, but it sounds as if you have? Could you explain in a few sentences how the scope of the giveaways have been limited? Thanks. I will not accept any Public land being given to local communities so that developers can profit and where we continue to erode away at a finite resource.

  5. About the land giveaways, I will say this. Rep. Simpson last year said he had dropped perhaps the most controversial land grant, the butte behind the town of Stanley. It has a stunning full view of the Sawtooth mountains on top.

    It was slated for one to perhaps twenty McMansions. I believe the rest of the lands proposed to be given to the countries were still in place. Correct me if I am wrong, Matt.

  6. avatar matt bullard says:

    I’ve not seen the current bill, like the rest of you. Exchange was the wrong word – sorry, not enough coffee that early in the morning. From dropping the Cape Horn land which was included in very early versions to the Stanley-area land that Ralph mentions, I believe this is a significant improvement. And yes, I do believe the rest are still in there, but I’ve not seen the most current bill.

  7. avatar Salle says:

    Here’s the link to the Sierra Club’s web site page that addresses the CIEDRA from the 110th Congress and a link the document (PDF file).

    http://idaho.sierraclub.org/sawtooth/issues/CIEDRA/index.html

    It’s the most recent version I could find at the moment.

  8. avatar Salle says:

    This is even better, it’s Simpson’s web site page on the bill:

    http://www.house.gov/simpson/ciedra.shtml

  9. avatar Jay says:

    4693.47 acres (1000 of the 5.6k will go to the state) of OUR land being given away to what will ultimately be developers? No dice…that’s a big load of cow manure.

  10. avatar Jay says:

    I’m sure everybody thought it was a horrible idea when that clown from Colorado (can’t remember his name, fortunately he lost his re-election bid) suggested selling off FS land a couple years ago, and I don’t see this as being any different. This is giving away a public resource to the benefit of the wealthy, and I won’t stand for it.

  11. avatar Salle says:

    I was just looking at the maps and the motorized use areas, I don’t like the winter “oversnow” or snowmobile areas since the have dates assigned for when they are open/closed. It looks like none of them are closed over the entire season. Off-trail abuse is rampant in that area.

    And I don’t like ANY TRADE of public land, period.

    Here’s the link to key changes:

    http://www.house.gov/simpson/ciedra_updates.shtml

  12. Salle,

    Thanks for looking up Simpson’s web site. He made more changes (positive ones) than I recalled. I’d like to see all the land grants to counties removed and much more done on the livestock front.

  13. avatar Salle says:

    It says, at the bottom of the revisions page that Title IV livestock grazing has been moved to Title III with new language, whatever that means… I wonder where to find THAT stuff. I’ll keep looking.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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