“I congratulate the Idaho Congressional Delegation, Mike Simpson, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch for their extraordinary effort to secure this for the citizens of Idaho and the nation,” said Mullen. “This is a great time for the Sawtooth and the state of Idaho.”
The Forest Service in Congressional committee testimony earlier this year supported designation of the Wilderness areas. Most of the National Forest System acres designated as wilderness by the legislation were recommended for wilderness designation in their respective forest plans dating as far back as 1987. The lands not recommended for wilderness in their land use plans are either inventoried roadless areas or their current management direction is compatible with wilderness designation.
“I would also like to recognize the tireless efforts of all the interests who have been involved in efforts leading up to and including this legislation,” said Mullen. “It is clear from the decades of involvement by numerous interests their dedication to protecting this magnificent backcountry.”
The three areas protected by the Wilderness Act are the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness (67,998 acres), the White Clouds Wilderness (90,769 acres), and the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness (totaling 116,989 acres: 92,979 acres of U.S. Forest Service land and 23,919 acres of Bureau of Land Management land). Two of the wilderness areas will be managed as part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which received more than one-and-a-half million dollars in grants for trail maintenance and improvements. The other area, Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness, will continue to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
With enactment of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will commence implementation of the law. Over time the Wilderness boundaries will be signed at trail heads and other appropriate sites, and updated maps produced for the benefit of Wilderness visitors. The legislation also includes a number of land conveyances to county and municipal governments in Blaine and Custer counties.
“We are set to begin the administration of these lands as Wilderness, and we look forward to working with local officials to complete the land conveyances,” said Mullen. “But today is one to recognize Representative Simpson and Senator Risch for their leadership, and all the interests who were involved in this worthy accomplishment.”