Letters from the West

Hearing on Boulder-White Clouds protections expected this summer

Rep. Mike Simpson now has a commitment for a hearing before a House Resources Committee subcommittee for his bill to protect wilderness in the Boulder-White Cloud mountains in Central Idaho.

Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the committee, told Simpson the subcommittee on federal lands will hold the hearing, Simpson staff said.

The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act would prohibit development in 272,000 acres of wilderness in three areas — Hemingway, White Clouds and Jim A. McClure-Jerry Peak.

In addition, the bill would allow a transfer of four acres of land from the federal government to the city of Stanley for affordable housing for local workers, another transfer for local infrastructure near Clayton and one in Blaine County. Custer County also would get access to $1 million already appropriated for general purposes in the county.

The bill gained new support this year when Simpson made changes that kept motorized trails intact and with a proclamation looming to protect up to 700,000 acres of the mountains and East Fork of the Salmon River watershed as a national monument by the Obama administration.