Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pass on wilderness bill

As a wilderness advocate, I'm deeply opposed to Mike Simpson's bill for the establishment of a Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness. It is the structure of CIEDRA I oppose—not its aim. CIEDRA supporters do not grasp the critical flaw within this bill: CIEDRA establishes a procedure for privatizing national public lands.

Significant portions of Idaho will be given away under CIEDRA, along with tax dollars, to a select few for the sake of calling the area what we already know it is: wilderness. Tax dollars are better spent on managing public property for all citizens. Even nearby communities benefit more from this approach.

Additionally, the Boulder-White-Clouds already receive unique protections under deliberate sections of the Sawtooth National Forest Plan and under Public Law 92-400. This specific law established the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which harbors the BWC ranges and directed additional protection for its natural resources.

The darkest consequence of CIEDRA will fall on our children and grandchildren. CIEDRA commands us to give up public treasures to celebrate a place with a name change. If this happens, public land tradeoffs will become a national standard. Wilderness areas ought to be designated on their own merit. Other national lands must not be lost forever just to ensure wilderness designation. Land speculators will irreversibly and inappropriately develop privatized land surrounding new wilderness. By precedent and law they will have us all over a barrel.

I have hiked and camped in the Boulder-White Clouds since 1988. I hope to protect these lands from CIEDRA. Why? So that my daughter and I will continue to have the right and freedom to explore all our lands as we wish, when we wish.

Please join us in our effort to keep these lands our own.

Denise Jackson Ford

Former landscape architect for the Sawtooth National Forest and SNRA

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