Friday, July 9, 2010

Simpson to tweak CIEDRA wording

Author of wilderness bill seeks support from reluctant governor


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Large tracts of land in the White Cloud Mountains are included in the proposed CIEDRA wilderness bill, now under review in Congress. Photo by Jason Kauffman

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, will propose additional language to the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act currently being reviewed in the U.S. Senate.

The language, according to a letter drafted by the congressman on July 2, would preserve the state of Idaho's right to land helicopters and use motorized vehicles in the bill's three proposed wilderness areas, so long as the purpose is to manage wildlife.

Lack of such access is a main factor in Gov. Butch Otter's long-held opposition to the bill. In particular, Otter has said he wants the state to have the ability to land helicopters in the wilderness to manage wolves.

The congressman's letter was drafted in response to a letter from Otter to bill co-sponsors Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho, in which the governor offered suggestions for CIEDRA modifications.

Similar rights were granted to the state in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, which contains more than 2.3 million acres surrounding the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The state was granted use of helicopters in 2006 to manage the wolf population. According to the governor's spokesman, Jon Hanian, management under CIEDRA would include radio collaring, tracking and occasionally killing individual wolves or entire packs.

Otter's letter also expressed concern about the bill's language regarding water rights, land transfers and eradication of invasive predators and weeds.

The congressman stated that he wished to "answer or alleviate" the governor's concerns, and specifically outlined the parts of the bill he felt answered Otter's suggestions.

Simpson's letter comes in the wake of a petition opposing CIEDRA that was circulated during the 2010 Republican State Convention. The petition was circulated by Barry Peterson, a delegate from Elmore County, who collected signatures in support of the governor's opposition to CIEDRA. However, Simpson's chief of staff, Lindsay Slater, said the congressman's letter was not in response to the petition.

CIEDRA is currently being discussed following a hearing June 16 before the Senate Subcommittee for Public Lands and Forests. Simpson has crafted CIEDRA over a 10-year period. The bill was first introduced in the House of Representatives, without success, in 2004.

This latest version of CIEDRA would create three wilderness areas, totaling 332,775 acres. The Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness and the White Clouds Wilderness would comprise land from the Sawtooth and Challis national forests, while the proposed Jerry Peak Wilderness covers land managed by the Challis District of the Bureau of Land Management and the Challis National Forest.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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