Late yesterday afternoon, Sen. Jim Risch introduced the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Act of 2016. If enacted, the bill would designate approximately 13,900 acres of national forest system lands in Bonner County as wilderness. The wilderness designations would be a first for North Idaho. There are currently no protected wilderness areas in the state’s nine northern counties.
Introduction of the bill comes after more than 12 years of hard work to gain the necessary public support. The credit for this work goes primarily to the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, who organized to advocate for this special area.
The proposal enjoys unusually broad support. The Bonner County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution asking Idaho congressional delegation to take action on the proposed wilderness. Additionally, the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness enjoys the support of Idaho Forest Group (a timber company) and the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. The proposal has also garnered the support of over 6,700 individuals, 80% of whom live within a two-hour drive of the area.
Sen. Risch has shown great interest and leadership in Idaho’s natural resource issues. While serving as interim governor, Risch worked with constituents to craft the broadly supported Idaho Roadless Rule. He also played a key role in shepherding legislation drafted by Rep. Mike Simpson through the Senate in 2015, leading to the protection of the Boulder-White Clouds in Central Idaho.
ICL is pleased to collaborate with the Friends of Scotchman Peaks on this effort and supports the bill introduced by Sen. Risch. We look forward to working with senator, the community and other elected leaders to get the bill passed.