Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Wilderness plan to honor 2000 winter-use pact

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Express Staff Writer

Written August 13, 2003

A 2000 agreement that designated specific parts of the northern Wood River Valley for motorized and non-motorized uses in winter would likely be kept intact as part of any proposed legislation by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to establish a new wilderness area in the Boulder and White Cloud Mountains.

"We will honor the snowmobile agreement that was made," said Lindsay Slater, Simpson's chief of staff, in addressing whether winter uses in the popular recreation area would be impacted by a new federal wilderness designation.

Slater said existing boundaries for winter motorized and nonmotorized uses—which were approved by the U.S. Forest Service in the fall of 2000—would be integrated into the wilderness plan to ensure that existing snowmobile use areas are not reduced.

The 2000 pact between snowmobilers and skiers established large areas reserved for each group. Both the motorized and nonmotorized areas include large portions of the Boulder Mountains, north of Ketchum.

The net result of the plan to honor the agreement, Slater said, is that portions of the Boulder Mountains near Galena Summit would be part of a new wilderness area, while the area encompassing Silver Creek, Easley Creek and Boulder Creek would be excluded.

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