Boulder-White Clouds bill passes House; permanent protection near?

Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds could soon be protected as wilderness. 

Credit: Ed Cannady Photography.

Legislation passed the House on July 27 to permanently protect Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds region, marking major progress in a decades-long effort by The Wilderness Society and local partners.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), would designate more than 275,000 acres of snowy peaks and gorgeous lake-filled terrain as wilderness in the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains, one of the largest intact roadless areas in the country that lacks permanent protection. If it passes the Senate and becomes law, the legislation will represent a huge and eagerly anticipated victory for conservation.

“It’s now up to the U.S. Senate to demonstrate that it can finally resolve this decades-long debate.”

“Congressman Simpson’s leadership on protecting the Boulder-White Clouds is something sorely needed in Washington right now and we commend his ability to move this bill cleanly through the process,” said Craig Gehrke, Idaho Director with The Wilderness Society. “It’s now up to the U.S. Senate to demonstrate that it can finally resolve this decades-long debate.”

Central Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains preside over a patch of rocky wildland that includes delicately-balanced habitat for mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain goats and elk. Slightly to the east of the existing Sawtooth Wilderness, the Boulder-White Clouds has been the focus of conservation efforts by The Wilderness Society and local communities for more than 30 years.

Protecting this area would boost the economy of nearby counties by up to $12 million annually, and prominent Idahoans, including former governor Cecil Andrus, have already voiced their support for the idea of beefing up conservation efforts to preserve this place for future generations of sportsmen, hikers and sightseers.

Stay tuned for developments on this major conservation effort!

Credit: Ed Cannady Photography.