The following is Idaho Conservation League/Linn Kincannon's response
to Frankenstein Wilderness editorial.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Let's keep talking with Rep. Simpson
Guest opinion by Linn
Linn Kincannon is the Central Idaho Director for the Idaho Conservation
The Idaho Conservation League would like to offer a different viewpoint
from that expressed in your recent Boulder-White Clouds wilderness
editorial. We are deeply concerned by and opposed to parts of
Congressman Mike Simpson's central Idaho framework, but we find enough
good in it to keep talking.
The Congressman proposes nearly 300,000 acres of wilderness almost all
in two large, unbroken pieces--220,000 acres stretching from Galena to
the Jerry Peak country on the east side (that's about the size of the
Sawtooth Wilderness), and 70,000 in the alpine lakes and valleys of the
west side. The proposed wilderness boundary is much larger than the last
two congressional efforts over a decade ago: the first proposal was
150,000 acres, the second only 89,000 acres with two motorized routes
If designated, these areas will be wilderness in every sense of the word
and the Wilderness Act; and important habitat for salmon, steelhead,
elk, wolves, and bears, as well as quiet recreation opportunities, will
be protected for the future. Those values would be further enhanced by a
purchase of grazing permits and removal of livestock from many thousands
of acres. And Congressman Simpson has said publicly that he will add
more land to the wilderness before he's through.
The two areas would be divided by a single-track motorcycle trail where
one exists today. Idaho's Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness
is also divided by an avenue for motorized recreation--the Salmon River
is open to jet boats as it winds through the wilderness. That's one of
the compromises Idaho Sen. Frank Church reached in order to designate
wilderness there. Today, most Idahoans are very glad to have that
wonderful wilderness for themselves and their children--even though it
took compromise to get it.
Other trails in the Boulder-White Clouds that are already open to
motorcycles and snowmobiles would remain open outside the wilderness.
This includes Washington Basin--it's already open. Champion Lakes is the
exception and here the Mountain Express got it right. Champion Lakes
should remain closed to motors, as it is today.
As we judge Simpson's Boulder-White Clouds efforts, we have to factor in
that registration of motorcycles and ATV's in Idaho has quadrupled in
the last decade, with last year's total at over 71,000. The vision the
Mountain Express painted for us may happen anyway, with or without
The Idaho Conservation League continues to work for a bill we can
support. We're not there yet, but we haven't given up. Thank you to
everyone who spoke about wilderness at the recent town hall meetings and
sent comments to Rep. Mike Simpson about Champion Lakes and other issues
of concern. For more information, visit our Web site at
www.wildidaho.org or call our
Ketchum office at 726-7485.