Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Campaign Profile: Boulder White-Clouds Wilderness

On Thursday, Hybrid.Pedal will roll into Ketchum, not far from the proposed Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness in Central Idaho. The Conservation Alliance supports Idaho Conservation League ( in their effort to secure Wilderness designation for 325,000 acres in the Boulder-White Clouds.

Ronald Reagan was the last president to sign Wilderness legislation for lands in Idaho, despite the fact that the state has some of the largest unprotected roadless areas in the Lower 48. The Boulder-White Clouds stands a solid chance of breaking that impasse and starting a new era of conservation in Idaho.

Working closely with Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, ICL has helped craft a proposal that will protect much of the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains, while providing economic benefits for gateway communities in Central Idaho. The proposal also makes concessions to the ranching and ATV communities in Idaho. Far from perfect legislation, the Boulder-White Clouds proposal reflects the diversity of stakeholders that want a piece of the BWC pie. For that reason, the proposal has endured criticism from all angles. In the end, though, it would permanently protect 325,000 acres of land, and cap ATV in adjacent lands at current levels. Interesting factoid: There were 750 registered ATVs in Idaho in 1980. In 2004, there were 104,000.

The primary threat to the area is unregulated ATV use. The legislation would help address that issue by defining where motorized recreation is allowed, and where it is not. Without the Wilderness designation, it is likely that ATV use will chip away at the wilderness characteristics of the Boulder-White Clouds.
I'm sure it's been a long haul for the riders from Boise to Ketchum. We hope they enjoy a nice visit and party when they are in town!
John Sterling
(Still at my desk in Bend, wishing I was on a bike)

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