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No bipartisan support for Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness

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Laura Paskus’ article on the Ojito Wilderness mentions the proposal for the Boulder-White Clouds in Idaho, an omnibus lands bill that includes some wilderness designation (HCN, 11/28/05: The little wilderness that could). Paskus states that this legislation has "bipartisan support," when in fact its only sponsors are Mike Simpson of Idaho and Jim Saxton of New Jersey, both Republicans, and there is a huge amount of controversy over the bill.

At a House hearing for the legislation in late October, the Resources Committee’s ranking Democrat, Nick Rahall, spoke passionately in favor of wilderness and against the Boulder-White Clouds bill. Also testifying against the bill were wilderness activist Carole King, the BLM, the Forest Service, a cattleman’s spokesperson, and an ORV promoter. Simpson and Idaho Conservation League (ICL) director Rick Johnson were the only witnesses speaking in favor of the bill.

Finally, 37 conservation groups, including 13 in Idaho, have gone on the record against the Simpson bill because of its numerous unacceptable provisions — including land giveaways, erosion of protections in the Sawtooth NRA, and the establishment of a huge ORV-dedicated management area. Only three groups — ICL, The Wilderness Society, and Pew’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness — are supporting the legislation.

The Boulder-White Clouds proposal not only lacks "bipartisan support," it is the center of an intense discussion among conservationists about the future of wilderness and public lands.

Janine Blaeloch, Director
Western Lands Project
Seattle, Washington

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