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Bill Would Create New Wilderness Area In Central Idaho

Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson is trying again to advance a project he’s worked on for 10 years. He’s nursing through Congress a fragile compromise over a new wilderness area.

Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports Simpson’s bill received a hearing in a Senate subcommittee Wednesday today.

Simpson proposes to give federal protection to about 330,000 acres of wilderness in the mountains of central Idaho. In exchange, the government would release another 130,000 acres of nearby land for development and recreation.

The Idaho congressman says he has developed a broad consensus for the plan.

Mike Simpson: “The old approach of wilderness, of sacrificing the needs of one individual or a specific user group to benefit the others will not work anymore.”

At the Senate hearing, the Idaho Conservation League called the bill a good compromise.

But Bill Dart from the Idaho Recreation Council gave only tepid support. He questions the need for new wilderness.

Simpson’s bill is backed by Idaho’s entire congressional delegation. He says with one key opponent, former Idaho Senator Larry Craig, no longer in office, this might finally be the year his bill passes.