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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2002

Opinion Columns

Preserving what we all love about Idaho

Guest opinion by LINN KINCANNON

Linn Kincannon, of Ketchum, is the Central Idaho director for the Idaho Conservation League (lkicl@sunvalley.net).

What do we love about Idaho? Open Spaces. Natural surroundings. The freedom to enjoy our wilderness and pass them on to our children and grandchildren. However we experience Idaho’s wilderness, fishing, hunting, hiking, horseback riding, camping or just having the ability to get away, it is important to protect these places of beauty and solitude for future generations while we can.

Idaho has many wonderful places, and rating favorites in Idaho’s outdoors is like rating favorite family members; it can’t be done. They are all the best in their own way. But there is little doubt that central Idaho¹s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains are high on the list of favorites for many Idahoans.

The Boulder-White Clouds cover an area approximately 25 miles by 30 miles with amazing scenery, free-flowing rivers, high mountain lakes, and over 60 wildlife species. One of Idaho’s largest elk herds lives there, as well as mountain goats and bighorn sheep. The lakes provide great fishing and camping opportunities.

But there¹s no guarantee that what we cherish and enjoy about the Boulder-White Clouds will be here 10 or even five years from now. In the 1950s we could not have imagined the huge impacts of industrial forestry and road building or the capacity of enormous mines to scar mountains and taint our lakes and streams. We aren¹t any better at predicting the future now. How can we make sure that the Boulder-White Clouds will stay the same as they are today, and that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the same freedom we have to fish, hunt, hike or just get away?

The best way is to designate it as Wilderness, the gold standard of land protection. The Wilderness Act, passed by Congress in 1964, states, "In order to assure that an increasing population … does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States … it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness," and promises "… outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation." The Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness proposal ensures that Idahoans will be able to use this treasure for future generations. The land will remain open for outdoor activities (such as hiking, hunting, fishing and horseback riding), while 160 miles of roads will continue to provide easy access to the wilderness. No private land will be affected and grazing can continue on the public lands. And protecting the Boulder-White Clouds will help the local economy without displacing any current businesses. This is a way to protect an important part of Idaho for Idahoans.

A new generation of wilderness bills places added emphasis on the needs of nearby communities. A Nevada "Wilderness" bill which was recently passed by Congress facilitates land exchanges, provides land for affordable housing, and gives other community support, as well as designating wilderness. Idaho’s leaders have a great opportunity to do the same in Idaho providing some much needed support for rural communities in central Idaho and protecting the Boulder-White Clouds for the future.

Editor’s Note: The Boulder-White Clouds, a roadless area on the east side of the Sawtooth Valley north of Ketchum, are currently managed as part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.



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