Key US Senate subcommitee holds hearings on CIEDRA and Owyhee Initiative today

Idaho’s Senior US Senator Larry Craig chairs the Senate subcommitte that has hearings on CIEDRA and the Owyhee Initiative today.

CIEDRA has already passed the House of Representatives where notorious Richard Pombo chairs the committee. His pound of flesh was insistence that the very beneficial buyout of East Fork of the Salmon River ranchers be taken out. The ranchers had wanted to be bought out. There was a hope that it would end a hundred years of overgrazing. An end to grazing could have made it a wildlife paradise.

Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman has a article today where he gives some history of the political battles of the past in central Idaho (which is affected by CIEDRA)

The article says ” ‘No matter what the outcome is on the bills, the process has changed the face of public lands management in the West,’ said John Freemuth, a Boise State University political science professor.’ ” ‘I think it’s a sea change that they have decided to participate in seeking solutions,’ he said.”

I am not so sure. If the bills become worse from the standpoint of conservation interests, there will be no more of this kind of solution seeking. Conservation interests won’t participate. While a number of major conservation groups are standing behind CIEDRA, many other groups are greatly opposed, and some of these folks will probably post to this forum. The off-road vehicle lobby is also strongly opposed because the bill isn’t weak enough even though they got numerous special favors.

If this “new process” offends the membership of the groups that are now participating by having the proposals backfire, almost all groups will just strop participating. If their members are pleased with what they see on the ground, compared to the long stalmate, participation will continue.
At the top of Warm Springs Canyon the the White Clouds Mountains.
Home of the Galena wolf pack. This is in part of the Wilderness designated
by CIEDRA. Copyright Ralph Maughan

I am judging that the Owyhee Initiative has less support than CIEDRA.


  1. BE Avatar

    It is dissapointing that these “wilderness” bills are increasingly exploiting the term rather than actualizing it. The Owyhee Initiative touts itself as an example of collaborative effort while
    sidelining legitimate conservationist concerns and parties. The issue of grazing on the proposed “wilderness” was categorically dismissed from “negotiation” at the onset of the proposal. I hope that you are correct that more conservationist organizations will step away when faced with excluded allies and limited topical contribution.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think the hearing yesterday says these bills are dead as far as any conservation aspect of them goes. I will post shortly

  3. Rose Jones Avatar
    Rose Jones

    Ralph – You are underestimating Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson.

    Unlike Senator Larry Craig, who is a powerful politician but not a leader or a bridgebuilder, the two Mikes are both, and they are not going to give up or go away.

    As for groups being “sidelined” — that’s what happens when people refuse to give an inch.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    You might be right, but I think the bills will fail precisely because Senator Craig has never been a bridge builder, and due to his position as chairman of the committee, he has the hammer, the lumber, and the nails needed to build the bridge

  5. Rose Jones Avatar
    Rose Jones

    Ralph – what you apparently are saying is that there will never be any more Wilderness protected in Idaho during the reign of Sir Larry Craig.
    I hope you are wrong. Why not stand up and think like a wolf and use cunning and stealth and protect a big chunk of the Boulder-
    White Clouds now?
    It will always be an uphill fight to protect wild lands and wild wolves. Right now Custer County is supporting a bill that would protect nearly 320,000 acres in the Boulder-White Clouds .
    Heck with Craig’s lumber and nails … think positive and work like hell to do what needs to be done. Even if that means talking to people who don’t like W or wolves.
    No one should misunderstand me. I’m not an opponent of CIEDRA as it is written, although it already got worse in the House when the buyout of East Fork of the Salmon River Ranchers was dropped. However, it is probably the only way a big Wilderness in the White Clouds and the Boulders will ever be established. I am just making a prediction about Craig. I’ve talked with our good senator before, and I don’t think I am one he would listen to. This is based on pretty direct experience.
    Other folks he doesn’t know should do all they can to keep it from getting worse and trying to make it better
    Ralph Maughan


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Ralph Maughan