Letters from the West

Simpson, Andrus tell the Boulder-White Clouds story Monday at BSU

The White Cloud Mountains, photographed by Ed Cannady, a Forest Service ranger and photographer who helped Congressman Mike Simpson draw the maps for his Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill approved in 2015.
The White Cloud Mountains, photographed by Ed Cannady, a Forest Service ranger and photographer who helped Congressman Mike Simpson draw the maps for his Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill approved in 2015.

I am lucky to be part of a special evening with Outdoor Idaho host Bruce Reichert, Republican Rep. Mike Simpson, former Gov. Cecil Andrus and Idaho Conservation League Director Rick Johnson.

Our presentation will detail the nearly 50-year journey to wilderness designation for the White Clouds, Hemingway-Boulders, and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness areas. It will include a screening of highlights from “Beyond the White Clouds,” a recent Outdoor Idaho documentary.

The program will be at the Boise State Special Events Center Monday at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by Idaho Public Television and Boise State’s School of Public Service. Its free to the public; parking will be provided courtesy of Idaho Public Television and the Andrus Center for Public Policy. It’s almost full, so attendees should pre-register. It comes before a daylong conference Tuesday about the larger public lands issue.

Andrus Center for Public Policy Director John Freemuth will moderate a Q&A session.

“This is the first time that I’m aware of that Mike Simpson and Cecil Andrus have appeared together to discuss this legacy issue and to take questions from the public,” says Freemuth.

Last summer I hiked up to Castle Peak, the iconic center of the Idaho conservation movement, with Simpson and Johnson. That trip was a lifetime achievement for me.

“The story of Idaho’s conservation history is really intertwined with the story of Castle Peak, Idaho’s most important mountain,” said Reichert in a press release. “It was a handful of hard-working volunteers who made the saving of Castle Peak a national issue, which got a governor elected, which led to the creation of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and set in motion the strong conservation movement currently in existence in the state. “

The discussion will consider the future use of Idaho’s public lands, Freemuth tells me.

“Younger generations love open space, but as arguments over mountain bikes in the wilderness attest, those folks may be less interested in quiet and solitude and more interested in the outdoors as playground,” says Freemuth. “Can a common ground be found for both wilderness as it has been experienced, and for other places for a different set of journeys? Will wilderness survive as we know it?”

Simpson worked for 15 years, attempting to balance the interests of ranchers, recreationists and environmental groups before he got the bill to President Obama’s desk in 2015 with the assistance of Republican Sen. Jim Risch.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

‘Why Public Lands Matter’

The Andrus Center for Public Policy will host a conference March 28 titled “Why Public Lands Matter” at Boise State University. Information: https://sps.boisestate.edu/andruscenter/why-public-lands-matter/

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