How Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness came to be
If you missed it live, you can listen to the broadcast of the City Club of Boise’s ceremony recognizing two of the partners who led the effort to pass Boulder-White-Clouds wilderness bill in 2015 with City Club’s Stimpson Award for Civic Engagement on Boise State Public Radio on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. on KBSX 91.5 FM.
Watching Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and Idaho Conservation League Director Rick Johnson talk Dec. 9 about how they came together and how the bill creating 275,665 acres of new wilderness was finally passed unanimously and signed by President Obama was a graduate class in political science. I sat with Boise High School students who were enthralled by the Idaho Public Television program on the area surrounding Castle Peak and the later discussion moderated by Idaho Statesman local news editor Bill Manny. You also can watch a special City Club excerpt from IPTV’s Outdoor Idaho documentary that focuses on how the wilderness bill became law.
After hearing how Castle Peak — the highest mountain in Idaho that can’t be seen from a highway — was saved from being turned into an open pit mine by former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, Manny acknowledged Andrus in the crowd and he stood up, giving the students a chance to see living history. Indeed the entire gala was filled with historical significance.
Johnson, who had spent his career fighting motorized off-road vehicle interests, called out Sandra Mitchell, leader of the Idaho Snowmobile Association for her critical role in the bill’s passage. His recognition that her constituency and his share a common desire to protect open, wild places showed the pragmatic approach he has taken to keep Idaho wild.
Simpson suggested there are other places that need the same kind of protection, mentioning Idaho’s highest mountain, 12,662-foot Borah Peak, which is not in wilderness. Reports that Washington state Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers may be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Interior secretary came during the talk and Simpson called it a good choice.