Suiting up to protect wilderness in Idaho

Little Jacks Creek Wilderness Area, Idaho. Photo by John McCarthy

One of the great things about going on Idaho Public Television to talk about wilderness in the 21st century is that we’re building on success. When IPTV asked me to go on camera in a five person round-table show called “Dialogue”, the central question was whether we need more wilderness. The answer, of course, yes. (Watch the Dialogue episode.)

Yes, because Idaho people supported the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness, with all four members of Congress from Idaho voting yes to represent their constituents. Yes, because the Idaho wilderness bill was the largest, at 517,000 acres, part of a great national package of more than 2 million acres of new wilderness. And yes, because people in Owyhee County supported the legislation and continue to meet with their neighbors, including us conservationists, and wilderness advocates, to address many land management issues.

Yes, we need and want more wilderness to meet the interests of local, statewide and national constituents. On the Dialogue show, I was also able to point out there are numerous similar local efforts going on right now. They too are working from the bottom up to help neighbors solve problems and protect the wildest parts of our lands as wilderness.

Here in Idaho, we have the south-central Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness ready to be finalized in Congress. The Scotchman’s Peak proposed wilderness up north has support of local communities and officials, who are helping to craft legislation. In vast forested Clearwater basin, the spectacular Pioneer Mountains and the wild Payette forests are other wilderness opportunities with local and national support.

One of the great things about my job is telling people about the new, 21st century opportunities to build on the National Wilderness Preservation System. Going on TV to tell the good news was one great way to do it – even if I had to wear a tie and get a haircut outside my irregular cycle. The fabulous pictures from IPTV of our precious Idaho wildernesses really tell the story.

[The Wilderness Society’s Craig Gehrke appeared on a companion IPTV show to talk about how a wide range of disparate interests found a compromise that protected the Owyhee Canyonlands. Read his blog post on Owyhee.]


Little Jacks Creek Wilderness area, Idaho. Photo by John McCarthy.