Idaho’s White Clouds Wilderness Debate to Air on PBS Friday

People are already debating it, the next go around in Congress for CIEDRA, the controversial White Clouds/Boulder Mountains Wilderness bill (with pay-offs to others).

Todd Wilkinson has a good story on the PBS program and the issue in New West.

Update Jan. 5. Given all the interest on this, I grabbed this from congressman Simpson’s web site. I see he has introduced a new version of CIERDA, but it doesn’t seem to be up yet.

Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA)








  1. Janine Avatar

    Here’s the comment I posted on the original site of the article–which of course makes more sense if you read the piece:

    In Simpson’s bill, all of the public land but about 80 acres was to be given away, outright, for free, gratis. For the 80 or so acres in Stanley that was to be paid for, the price was to be the value at which the land was appraised in the 1980s when the government acquired it to add to the Sawtooth NRA. So a bargain. And not to be paid for till later, after the city found a developer to buy it.

    I am astounded that anyone would praise Simpson’s acumen, smarts, skills, political savvy. The guy did not get his bill through.

    He said he would get it passed or “die trying,” but even as one of the “cardinals” of the appropriations committee, and–as he reminded us frequently–a close bud of the then-majority leader, Boehner, Simpson was not able to get his bill attached as a rider on the last/only bill that moved in the lame duck session.

    Even when it passed the House, it was under suspension of the rules, the cranked-up, move-’em-all-through-with no-debate, no-recorded-vote, favorite method by which the republicans, especially, pass bad land bills. So while greasing it through the House by that method may show some slight skill, Simpson’s compromising skills weren’t adequate to get agreement on the bill so it could survive the slower mark-up and vote on the floor method.

    Acumen? Savvy? The giveaways of public land to Custer County, Idaho that were the heart of the deal were not included in the bill that had a hearing because he forgot to include them. Simpson had lolligagged and prevaricated for so long over the issue of JUST HOW MUCH land would be given to Custer, had stood back for so long waiting for the county’s wish list, and then had failed for so long to put the actual acreage in so the rest of us could stop trying to guess…that he FORGOT to include the acreage in the bill when they started filling in the blanks. The press release Simpson put out on the day the bill was heard listed all the land, which added up to about 5,100 acres and included 2,000+ acres to go to Custer County, uh, but the CC land was never put in the bill.

  2. kt Avatar

    Part of the plan with these quid pro quo wilderness Bills in Idaho is that they serve as an endless distraction for the media, from everything else bad that is going on. The more Simpson, Johnson and others following the Campaign for America’s Wilderness agenda puff up and strut around proclaiming how wonderful THEIR bill and THEY are – the more bad things that are happening on the ground slide by unnoticed. It would be interesting to see if PEW, CAW, or some associate gave some generous donation to PBS to get what sounds like it is to be a propaganda piece aired.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Given the low visibility of conservation issues, I’ve got to doubt that.

    I think the media are more likely intentionally diverted onto “runaway brides,” the latest celebrity ethnic insult, minor scandal, the lifestyles of the rich, etc.

    That is one reason so many blogs have sprung up. People are taking the reporting of the news into their own hands, a bit of impolite democracy.

  4. Gerald Green Avatar

    After watching the program tonight, it sounded like Simpson and many -even the Wilderness Society-believe this bill is the best cpmpromise Idaho can get or they will get nothing at all, EVER.!Democratic House and Senate with enough Republicans up for 2008 election needing to look somewhat conservationist. Part of the area has Recreation Area protection, but now we are talking about the roadless area getting legitimate Wilderness protection-except for the one ATV trail .
    Isn’t “something” like this compromisebetter than “nothing” , especially in a red state.?

  5. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    I could not agree more, Gerald. What I also enjoyed about the show was Congressman Shays interview at the end where he said (on a totally unrealted subject) that to compromise on an issue does not mean you are compromising your principles. I am hopeful, like others who support not only the bill but the process, that the copromise gets better for conservation in the new Congress.

  6. kt Avatar

    Ralph –

    The local media – i. e. the state’s biggest newspaper the Idaho Statesman – has been completely smitten with CIEDRA and the OI for 5 years or so now. When during that period has there EVER been a separate story – with say a trashed streambank and cowpies floating in water – about how public lands grazing is destroying trout habitat in Owyhee or Custer County? Nada.

    In fact, the only kind of discouraging article about any public lands grazer that I can recall in the Statesman was a brief mention last month that Bruneau Cattle company was facing fines from EPA for polluting water on a feedlot on private land. The article unfortunately, was just about private land practices, and did not mention, however, that Bruneau Cattle had stood to profit by around 4 million dollars from Crapo’s Owyhee Initiative, including selling-off of public land.

    The reality is the Statesman and Barker are enamored of these wilderness bills. The appeal to them seems to be not the thrill of the kidnapped debutante story, but instead the thrill of a tale of Conquering the Wilderness Frontier across the great ideological divide … with no regard for the consequences to the rest of the land that is given away to Bag wilderness … and with no concern for what is happening to the rest of the non-wilderness lands, either.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I thought you were talking about how much attention the media gives these issues, not much; but yes the Statesman likes the ideas of everybody sitting down and singing Kum Ba Yah, with the “cowboys” calling each verse.

    Conservationists need to look beyond Wilderness. It’s great, but it won’t save the public land, and cattle are even allowed inside them — a lot of Wilderness not real wilderness.

    One good thing about the CIEDRA, the best thing, is that it might be a nearly cow-free Wilderness. That would be something, I’d give up something for.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan