Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson said that the proposed federal Boulder-Whiteclouds wilderness area in south central Idaho is still necessary, despite some recent lack of support from other Idaho Republicans.
In a guest opinion posted on his website, Simpson called his plan to create 332,775 acres of federally-protected wilderness areas a plan crafted by Idahoans to prevent a takeover of the area by the U.S. government.
“If we leave things as they are, we give federal agencies free rein to cut off existing access or change land use policies at any time,” Simpson said. “There is a real risk that the Obama Administration could unilaterally designate this area as a national monument, giving Idahoans no input into how the land on which they live and recreate is managed.”
The wilderness plan, called the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), had the backing of all four Idaho members of Congress last month, when it had a hearing in the U.S. Senate. Gov. Butch Otter sent a letter to the congressional delegation opposing parts of the plan. At the Senate hearing, Bill Dart of the Idaho Recreation Council said motorized and non-motorized recreation groups will lose access to some areas if CIEDRA becomes law. Since the hearing, Sen. Jim Risch has said that he would oppose the plan as it is currently written. Idaho Republicans, at their state convention in Idaho Falls last month, moved to write Otter a letter thanking him for his opposition to CIEDRA.
“Extremists on both sides of this issue may refuse to find middle ground, but for most Idahoans, this solution is one we can’t do without,” Simpson said in his opinion. Read Simpson’s full opinion at his website.