People whose access to an area will be restricted or prohibited upon wilderness designation often oppose it. In the case of the Boulder-White Clouds, riders of snowmobiles, trailbikes, and all terrain vehicles do not want their access limited.
“I am not advocating that this area should be turned into wilderness,” said the president of the Salmon River Snowmobile Club in Stanley, Dan Hammerbeck. “At this point there is something here for everyone. We can access the Boulder-White Clouds with snowmobiles, motorcycles, and bikes. If the wilderness proposal goes through, it will exclude all of us from using this area.”
Hammerbeck believes that there are already enough acres of wilderness surrounding the Boulder-White Clouds, and for people who desire a wilderness experience they have access to the Sawtooth Wilderness and the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Fellow snowmobiler and Stanley resident, Gary Cvecich, is concerned that wilderness designation of the Boulder-White Clouds will hurt the winter economy of Stanley. He says the Boulder-White Clouds draw snowmobilers from all over the country who stay in Stanley hotels and eat in Stanley restaurants during their extended visits.
The past president of the Idaho Trail Machine Association, Mel Quale, proposes that instead of reducing the impacts of mechanized use by designating the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness, motorized access should remain open and motorcyclists should continue improving their environmental ethic. “It’s just a matter of being able to accommodate people. That’s really what our forests are about. It’s really about how the American people will be able to use them, enjoy them, and keep them forever,” said Quale.
The Executive Director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Clark Collins, believes that a compromise concerning wilderness designation of the Boulder-White Clouds can be reached. “There are a lot trails in the Boulder-White Clouds that we have a long-term investment in,” said Collins. “I think that they need to look at designating wilderness in the areas where there aren’t trails that we have been riding. We are willing to work with these guys on something that meets some of their needs as long as they are willing to meet us at least halfway, and leave the trails open that we have been using all of these years.”
Although the Idaho State Snowmobile Association is always willing to discuss wilderness proposals in the Boulder-White Clouds, its president Meril Ebbers maintains that there is enough wilderness in Idaho. He believes that disputes between user-groups in national forests should be settled locally. Ebbers said: “Keep it open to multiple use. There’s a tremendous resource back here that has been well managed.”
Much of the Boulder-White Clouds lie in Custer County which is 95 percent public land. Many residents of Custer County believe that the Boulder-White Clouds should continue to be a multiple-use area. Custer County Commissioner Cliff Hansen said, “I have always said that I am opposed to more wilderness in Custer County because there is so much wilderness in Custer County now.” But he is willing to work with Congressman Simpson because he believes that a compromise would be positive for Custer County where its tax-base is struggling to meet all of its needs.
Rancher and former Custer County Commissioner Melodie Baker agrees that a compromise would be positive for Custer County because it will resolve the current conflicts between user-groups. “We can all work together,” said Baker who supports managing the Boulder-White Clouds as a multiple-use area.
Fellow rancher on the upper East Fork of the Salmon River, Sid Dowton, does not believe that all of the issues surrounding the Boulder-White Clouds can be resolved while also allowing him to still graze cattle on public lands. According to Dowton, he has three options as a rancher in the East Fork of the Salmon River: stabilize ranching, sell conservation easements on his property, or subdivide his property. “I hope that we can stay in the ranching industry. I hope that we could find a balance so that we could get what everyone wants from this beautiful country. But I don’t see that happening,” said Dowton.
Rocky Barker, “Finding Common Ground in the Boulder-White Clouds: Custer County Hopes to Strike it Rich Again with Wildlands Bill,” The Idaho Statesman, July 6, 2003.