BRC Wilderness Update — Update!

| June 25, 2010 | 0 Comments


Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

Last Thursday we blasted a Wilderness Legislation Update and reported on Wilderness bills in Idaho, South Dakota, Colorado, Montana and Utah.

In the past week there has been quite a bit of news on each of these bills so we thought we’d send another update. Call it a Wilderness Legislation Update – Update! 

We also wanted to send a heartfelt THANKS to everyone who took the time and effort to contact legislators on these bills. Judging by the news in Idaho, your phone calls and email are having a positive effect.

I’ll repeat our a disclaimer that this update won’t cover all of the various wilderness and other land use bills pending. If we miss any bills in your area, we apologize and ask that you shoot us an email and we’ll include it in our next update.

Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


S. 3294 – CIEDRA – Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act

The U.S. Senate Subcommittee for Public Lands and Forests heard testimony June 16, 2010 on Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness bill. Known as CIEDRA, this legislation would close approximately 80 miles of mountain bike single track and tens of thousands of acres of prized high mountain snowmobiling.

Apparently, the Subcommittee testimony raised serious questions…
Risch: Wouldn’t bet on Idaho wilderness

CIEDRA deemed a ‘tough sell’
Wilderness bill rides momentum after hearing, but opposition looms

Adena Cook, BRC’s Senior Policy Adviser, wanted everyone to read Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s letter opposing CIEDRA.  Adena reports that Otter’s letter combined with calls and emails from the OHV and snowmobile community is making an impression on Senator Risch. She said “Your e-mails and letters ARE making a difference. They have REAL IMPACT.”

So much impact that Idaho’s Wilderness Advocacy Media, in the form of Rocky Barker, environment and natural resource writer for the Idaho Statesman, seems to be doing their level best to spin the opposition to Rep. Simpson’s bill. Barker has posted two blurbs on his blog:

Motorized recreation activist flexes muscles

Other collaborative processes threatened if Simpson’s bill goes down

Speaking of Sandra Mitchell…
Sandra Mitchell sent a email update to members of Idaho Recreation Council and Idaho State Snowmobile Association reacting to the news that Senator Risch is reconsidering his support of that bill:    

     “We have waited a long time to hear something like this and I know there were times when we all felt as if CIEDRA was a done deal. Thanks to your hard work and that magnificent  letter from the Governor; it isn’t over.

     Again, I am going to ask you do something and that is to contact Senator Risch and say thanks for his comments in the Statesman and for understanding that this CIEDRA bill doesn’t work for the people or the land. I promise you, by acting you will make a difference.

      We have come so far and worked so hard, we cannot give up and numbers still matter. It is important that the Senator know folks care and are paying attention.”

S. 3310 – Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act of 2010 –

This bill will designate 48,000 acres of Wilderness in South Dakota’s Buffalo National Grasslands.

Senators, groups clash on wilderness

H.R. 3914 – San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act of 2009

A bill that will designate approximately 60,000 acres of Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

In House, San Juan public lands bill passes committee

Our previous updated explained that confusion and controversy erupted in Colorado’s Hidden Gems Wilderness campaign as Colorado Rep. Jared Polis scrambled to clarify his position after an AP story reported the process would be put on hold. The latest news comes from Pitkin County, who says the Wilderness activists need to work harder at reaching accommodation with other stakeholders:

Pitkin County to Gems: Get more public comment

S. 1470 – The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

Montana’s Senator Jon Tester is making some changes to his bill, but he’s sticking with his original plan to require the USFS log a certain amount of overgrown forest.  He has posted a revised draft on his website:

Senator Tester Stands Behind Logging in Wilderness Bill

Tester adjusts forest bill

The last updated mentioned SUWA’s play to encourage Colorado Senator Mark Udall to become the Western Champion of their unfathomably massive 10 million acre BLM Wilderness bill.
Udall may lead regional wilderness issue

But we didn’t mention any news on Senator Bennett’s county-by-county Land Use Legislation process.  Both San Juan and Emery Counties are considering land use bills that would include Wilderness, as well as other recreation friendly designations. Emery County’s Public Lands Council is currently putting pen to paper and should have a draft bill ready in coming months. Draft maps and other information is posted on the County’s website:

Utah’s National Public Radio interviewed Senator Bennett who repeated the probably accurate threat that the Obama Administration may take unilateral action (Monument designation) should the county-by-county process fail.
Wilderness After Senator Bennett

SUWA has an interesting spin on their website:
An Emery County Update

     “Unfortunately county officials have drawn heavy criticism from local wilderness opponents for working too closely with SUWA, whose interests they see at odds with theirs. This has dampened any early optimism.”

Doesn’t it seem like they are setting the stage to blame their opposition to Emery County’s bill on “local wilderness opponents.”

Maybe not. Its too easy to assign nefarious motives to a group like SUWA. And, in all honesty, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that any legislation that would be palatable to the elected officials and the citizens of Emery County would be in significant conflict with SUWA’s 10 million acre behemoth wilderness bill.

Whatever spin SUWA tries to put on it, the question will boil down to whether or not SUWA will want to take what wilderness it can get via Bennett’s process, or continue its past history of killing the bills in Washington D.C.

SUWA Negotiates with Oil and Gas Industry to Close Areas to Public??

According to Tom McCourt, a columnist for the Sun Advocate in Price, Utah, SUWA has struck a deal with the Bill Barrett Corporation that would allow Barrett to develop their oil and gas operation in Carbon County as long as the company and the County agrees to close roads to public access.
The Wasatch Behind: Grin and Barrett

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