The real meaning of wilderness will open our eyes
like an Idaho sunrise on a summer morning.
In 1964, Idaho Senator Frank Church sponsored the Wilderness Act creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Act defines wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Any federal land that is unnoticeably marked by man’s imprint, offers outstanding opportunities for solitude, and has natural, aesthetic or educational value may be designated wilderness by Congress.
Four decades after the Wilderness Act became law, 106 million acres, or 4.4 percent, of U.S. land is congressionally designated wilderness. More than half of this wilderness lies in Alaska.
In Idaho, there are more than four million acres of congressionally designated wilderness. With seven million acres eligible for wilderness designation, no other state in the lower 48 states has as much eligible land as Idaho. “Wilderness is an uniquely American idea, the protection of country exactly as it was when the settlers first got here. It is to preserve our heritage of what America was about,” said Idaho wilderness advocate Linn Kincannon of the Idaho Conservation League.
The Boulder-White Clouds is the largest piece of land outside of Alaska eligible for wilderness designation. Currently, the Boulder-White Clouds are apart of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The SNRA is managed to emphasize recreational and related values. When Congress created the SNRA, it designated half of the Boulder-White Clouds a Wilderness Study Area, requiring the Forest Service to manage this area as wilderness.
In the past two decades, there have been several failed attempts to pass legislation designating the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness. Of the 582,932 acres of the Boulder-White Clouds eligible for wilderness designation, the Idaho Conservation League recommends 500,000 acres to become wilderness. Recently, Congressman Mike Simpson began meeting with conservation groups and other parties who have a vested interest in the Boulder-White Clouds.
To learn more about some of the recreational activities taking place
in the Boulder-White Clouds, click on the links below: