Cecil Andrus

cecil andrusCecil Andrus was elected governor of Idaho four times and served as Secretary of Interior. Currently, he is the chairman of the Andrus Center for Public Policy. We interviewed him in May at Redfish Lodge during the Idaho Conservation League’s annual conference.

What do you think about the proposal to designate the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness?

“The Boulder-White Clouds area is a very unique area in Idaho that is fully qualified for wilderness protection. It is a tremendous lab for elk and deer herds, and for water quality that feeds all of the tributaries going into the Salmon. It should not be commercialized from an investor standpoint. But it can be commercialized from a hunting and fishing and recreational standpoint. It is a situation where we need full wilderness protection to keep motorized vehicles and off-road equipment out of that particular area if we are going to protect the area. Then, those people need a place to be…If they are not able to be in that area, you need to have another area where you say, ‘you are welcome here.’ I think that those people who ride trailbikes and snow machines are sensitive people. The word ‘multiple-use’ is deceiving because it implies that everyone can do everything. But you don’t see people picnicking in an open-pit mine. You don’t see them fishing in a populated stream. They have legitimate concerns. They being the off-road vehicle users can’t go everywhere, but they have a right to go somewhere.”

Can a compromise be reached between the different user-groups?

“As I told the ICL today, you have to be willing to compromise. You cannot be strident, double up your fist, and try to run everyone off. It’s a situation where all of the legitimate concerns have got to have a seat at the table and work it out…It has been 15 years since Jim Brewer and I tried to protect these areas, and that attempt failed because we couldn’t convince both sides. I think there’s a different attitude right now. That people realize the value of this area…If you said you wanted to come in a take a bulldozer and tear this place apart you would have a civil war on your hands. That attitude among our people is going to save some wilderness. There are legitimate concerns about logging, mineral extraction, grazing and some areas really qualify for that use. And what they are talking about just over the hill there is an area deserving of pristine protection.”

What obstacles does Simpson face in reaching a compromise?

“The big problem is going to be to get the current national administration to back off some of the positions that they have taken. I think that Mike Simpson and Mike Crapo can handle that. If they can resolve the differences between the people in Idaho, they certainly can solve the differences at the White House…Do it now or we’ll miss our opportunity. This is a window, and we have to work for it. I think that our congressional delegation is on the right track in this regard.”


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