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Archive for June, 2013

The largest as yet unprotected contiguous roadless land in America (outside of Alaska) is the Boulder White Cloud Mountains in South Central Idaho.  For several decades now, efforts and legislation to protect much of this half-million acre wonderland has languished in state and congressional debate, but the effort continues.  The addition of a 300,000 + acre wilderness to our preservation system would be one of the most substantial additions to our wilderness system since the 1980’s, and it should be done. 

The Boulder-White Cloud mountains are a bright and vivid Rocky Mountain environment.  It’s home to the headwaters of four rivers that run sparkling clear in this area.  Some of these waterways see salmon migration all the way from the Pacific, some of the longest salmon migrations on Earth.  Elk, deer, bighorns, bears, wolves, mountain lions, lots of trout, lots of trees, and soaring mountains.  It’s all there now and needs official protection forever.  However, the details of current proposals may be going too far to try to accommodate all interests.  Many wilderness advocacy groups are against CIEDRA (Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act) because it seems to be folding a more limited form of wilderness protection into a larger complex of increases in non-wilderness-like recreational and use designations.  But, this is the nature of wilderness preservation efforts in the 21st century.  It’s complicated.  More inclusive of different interests, more creative, more collaborative.  And, perhaps slower and more diluted from the original intention of wilderness preservation.  Can there be degrees of wilderness protection within the wilderness preservation system?  I tend to think the opportunity for that is limited before we begin to compromise what it means to call an area “wilderness.” 

But, some form of official protection for this area is needed.  The link below is a quality production by PEW Environmental on the efforts to protect this beautiful area:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAN1Qe6Xhd4

Location of proposed Boulder White Clouds Wilderness - Courtesy of Boulder White Clouds Council

Location of proposed Boulder White Clouds Wilderness – Courtesy of Boulder White Clouds Council

Boulder White Cloud environment - Courtesy of Idaho Conservation League

Boulder White Cloud environment – Courtesy of Idaho Conservation League

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