Letter to Mt. Express, by Erik Schultz.
CIEDRA Deals are Reasonable
February 15, 2006
Mountain Express, Ketchum Idaho
I am tired of out-of-state environmentalists representing minor league
groups like Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Wilderness Watch, (Missoula)
and Western Lands Project (Seattle) attacking local efforts to find
workable solutions to the decades-old question of wilderness designation
for the Boulder-White Clouds.
Wilderness designation in Idaho has never come clean and simple, as some
would have us believe. Our two most cherished protected areas, the SNRA
and the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness, were products of
locally driven compromises and exceptions that caused heartburn to
environmentalists. The fears that those compromises would sabotage the
very places they intended to protect proved unfounded.
Now Rep. Simpson has presented us with a new set of compromises necessary
to realize protection for our backyard cathedral.
To be sure, conveying some public land to Custer County as part of the
package that would designate over 300,000 acres of the largest roadless
chunk of real estate left in Idaho and the lower 48 is tough to swallow.
But what our out-of-state friends donít mention is that this precedent has
already been set by other Western states in much larger amounts.
From 2000-2004, Congress passed three major wilderness and development
bills for Oregon and Nevada that collectively privatized over 200,000
acres of public land. These bills enjoyed widespread bipartisan support.
In comparison, CIEDRAís small land transfers seem downright reasonable.
History shows that the tough deals needed to pass wilderness bills will
eventually fade in importance, and all that remain are landscapes
protected for all time.