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HJM 10: Opening up Recommended Wilderness Areas — 2019

Summary: HJM 10 would ask Congress to release recommended wilderness areas from protection in North Idaho.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: House Committee

Issue Areas: Public Lands

Official Legislative Site

House Joint Memorial 10, introduced by Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay), aims to send a message to Washington, D.C. as to how acres of recommended wilderness areas (RWAs) in national forests in northern Idaho should be managed. This memorial was added on the 79th day of the 2019 session — well past the supposed bill introduction deadline.

The memorial promotes motorized use and other development in areas that are currently protected under both the Idaho Roadless Rule and individual forest plans. The non-binding memorial (sent to the President, Congress, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service Chief, etc.) only relates to recommended wilderness areas in the Panhandle and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Those areas contain some of the most important backcountry roadless forests in the state, and ICL and others remain engaged in long-term collaborative efforts to resolve management concerns of these and other areas. Areas like Kelly Creek, the Mallard Larkins, the Selkirks and Scotchman Peaks would be exposed to new threats.

At the introductory hearing, Rep. Dixon noted that he didn’t expect the bill to advance this late in the session, and that no hearing was anticipated.

If the Forest Service were to follow the memorial, it could mean that thousands of acres across North Idaho could be opened to potentially inconsistent uses that would detract from the values for which the areas were protected. For instance ATVs, snowmobiles, jeeps or off-highway vehicles could be allowed to impact the pristine qualities of a potential wilderness area. Also, commercial leases, harmful development or disturbance in nearby locations could impact these sensitive areas.

This is yet another attack on your public lands. Our national forests are managed according to the existing laws including the National Forest Management Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the Wilderness Act. Working together with land managers and communities to collaboratively advance common goals provides a much better path, not political meddling.