Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness Will Become a Reality

Aug 4, 2015

Boulder-White Clouds, Idaho

Ed Cannady Photography
Thirty years in the making, Idahoans are able to share a new wilderness area with the rest of America. Today the U.S. Senate passed the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act (H.R. 1138).

This bill protects a wild area of Idaho called Boulder-White Clouds.  The House of Representatives passed an identical bill so all that’s left to enact the legislation into law is President Obama’s signature.

“The Wilderness Society is incredibly grateful for the stalwart work of Congress to work together for a remarkable place like Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “Legions of Americans can visit this wild landscape for years to come and it will remain unchanged—and for that we have countless local advocates to thank and the dedication of elected leaders like Congressman Mike Simpson, who led his colleagues toward bipartisan agreement. This is truly a time to reflect on the value of the Wilderness Act, fifty years since its passage, and the good work it continues to deliver for nature and the American people.”

Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) first introduced legislation to protect the area in 2004, but The Wilderness Society has been actively working to protect the Boulder-White Clouds since the late 1970s. It was a favorite area of both Frank and Bethine Church, who worked tirelessly to conserve Idaho’s wild landscapes both back in Washington and with local communities.

The 275,000 acre landscape just east of the existing Sawtooth Wilderness Area comprises delicately-balanced habitat for eight of Idaho’s big-game species, including Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, moose, and antelope. Rare and sensitive predators also roam these mountains such as the wolverine, gray wolf, lynx, and mountain lion.

For thousands of years, salmon and steelhead have journeyed from their birth streams in the Boulder–White Clouds down to the Pacific Ocean—one of the longest salmon migration routes in the world—where they mature into adults and return to spawn.  The area is beloved by hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers. And the many high mountain lakes and hundreds of miles of trails make the Boulder-White Clouds one of Idaho’s premier backcountry hiking destinations.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law later this summer. This is the first wilderness bill passed by the 114th Congress.

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The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 700,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org

Contacts:  Michael Reinemer, Communications Manager, 202- 429-3949, Michael_reinemer@tws.org