State Politics

Effort to rename Idaho wilderness after Cecil Andrus clears House committee

Cecil Andrus in Hells Canyon.
Cecil Andrus in Hells Canyon.

The Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness.

Like the sound of that?

So does Congressman Mike Simpson.

On Wednesday, Simpson introduced long-rumored legislation to rename Idaho’s White Clouds Wilderness in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests as the Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness in honor of Andrus. The former Idaho governor and secretary of the Interior died Aug. 24 at the age of 85.

The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration. On Wednesday, Feb. 14, the committee passed the bill by unanimous consent, according to Simpson's office.

"It is only fitting that this iconic land in Idaho is forever tied to the man who dedicated his public service to protecting it," Simpson said in a statement.

Among Andrus’ first accomplishments was saving Castle Peak, the highest peak in the White Cloud Mountains, from mining. Andrus made stopping the mine the central issue of his 1970 race for governor.

In recent years, Andrus returned to his preservation work to help Simpson protect the Boulder-White Clouds as wilderness — an effort Simpson had doggedly pursued for more than a decade.

On Aug. 7, 2015, President Barack Obama signed Simpson’s wilderness bill into law, creating three areas totaling 275,000 acres, including Andrus’ beloved Castle Peak.

The areas are named the White Clouds, Hemingway-Boulders and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness areas.

Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, Rep. Mike Simpson, Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson and the Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker talk governing, compromise and public lands at a forum co-sponsored by Idaho Public Television and

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell