LINN KINCANNON and RICK JOHNSON
For the Express
After 35 years of advocacy and attention by three generations of Idahoans, the Boulder-White Cloud mountains have taken a significant step toward permanent protection. The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the first Idaho wilderness bill to do so since Frank Church was our senator 26 years ago. Although the motorized recreation community and some environmentalists have criticized CIEDRA, the reality is that it is a balanced, carefully crafted piece of legislation that will protect the first new wilderness in Idaho in a generation.
CIEDRA has the support of Idaho's largest conservation organization—the Idaho Conservation League, as well as the local Boulder-White Clouds Council, The Wilderness Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Isaac Walton League. It is also supported by the Blaine and Custer county commissions, the mayors of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Stanley, and many of Idaho's disabled recreation groups. On behalf of these groups and others who care about protecting Idaho's future, we offer our sincere thanks to the thousands of Idahoans who helped get this bill passed out of the U.S. House.
To stand on Jerry Peak's 10,000-foot summit on the eastern side of the White Clouds and realize that everything you can see for miles to the west will be included in the new 319,900 acre wilderness—a wilderness much larger in size than the Sawtooth Wilderness—is a tremendous feeling. To give future generations that same opportunity in our increasingly developed world is a legacy of real value.
Idaho is our nation's third fastest growing state. With that population growth has come a comparable increase in off-road motorized recreation. There are more than 100,000 registered trail bikes and ATVs in Idaho, a number that has increased by over 30,000 in just the last three years. It is essential that we set aside sanctuaries for wildlife and quiet recreation right now.
CIEDRA contains compromises that we have considered very seriously. We would rather have a bill that only designates wilderness, with no other provisions. But while people argue about finding a perfect bill, Idaho's precious roadless lands are being roaded and scarred. Passing CIEDRA will forever protect some of our nation's most stunning landscapes, and will ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to experience the Boulder-White Clouds as we have. We owe it to them.
Linn Kincannon and Rick Johnson are senior representatives of the Idaho Conservation League, based in Boise and Ketchum.