Statesman Editorial: All that’s left is president’s signature on Boulder-White Clouds wilderness protection

The time is here for President Barack Obama to sign on to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent Tuesday and paves the way to assign wilderness protection to 275,000-plus acres in the Boulder-White Clouds region.

If an otherwise contentious Congress can find a way to assign one of the highest levels of preservation to Central Idaho’s iconic natural jewel, certainly the president can find reason to draw his pen and sign into law an initiative begun four decades ago that will bestow dividends for generations to come.

The efforts of Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, over the past 13 years working with a diverse set of stakeholders from the environmental, outdoor, wilderness and government communities deserve the appreciation and final approval of the executive branch.

Since his visit to Idaho in February, we hope that Obama has appreciated the example of the bipartisan/bichamber efforts of Simpson, Sen. Jim Risch and their colleagues — which would have gone nowhere without the pragmatic and persistent efforts of such stewards as the Idaho Conservation League and groups representing hunters, anglers and recreationists.

The “Idaho Solution” within H.R. 1138 is one that the stakeholders have wanted and is the outcome the Statesman editorial board has championed for 50 years through a variety of initiatives with sundry names but one goal: the protection of the region where the White Cloud Mountains and Castle and Merriam peaks rise to remind us that they preceded us and deserve our best efforts to preserve them for posterity.

Though there are other efforts and approaches to reach a similar end — the president has no doubt been pitched over and over on a national monument — the evidence of collaboration, cooperation and compromise here in Idaho should be all Obama needs to believe this is what the people want.

We await the president’s action and his signal that he is joining us in doing what Idaho knows is best for the Boulder-White Clouds.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.