BOISE, Idaho -- When Congress created the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho back in 1972. It included more than half a million acres known as the Boulder-White Clouds.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has worked several years to turn the Boulder-White Clouds into a wilderness area. The goal is to protect that land from future development. Simpson's plan -- known as the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, or CIEDRA -- would allow certain recreational activities like hiking and mountain biking.
But some recreation groups, like the Idaho Recreation Council and the Idaho Snowmobile Association, opposed CIEDRA.
That's because as designated wilderness, the area would be off-limits or could reduce trails open to motorized bikes and snowmobiles. That bill has stalled in Washington, D.C.
Now, some in Blaine County, which encompasses the Sun Valley area and the southern end of the Boulder-White Clouds, are getting behind an effort to have the area designated as a national monument.
Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen helped pass a resolution that supports a national monument designation for the Boulder-White Clouds. The goal is to preserve not only the wild areas of the Boulder-White Clouds but also protect recreational activities not allowed in wilderness.
Recreation is big business in towns like Hailey and Ketchum. Schoen says a national monument could attract visitors from around the country to visit central Idaho.
"Public land is viewed as a tremendous asset, a tremendous draw and feeds the dynamism of our recreation and tourism and economy” Schoen says.
Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker has more in this video from Idaho Reports:
Rocky Barker and the Idaho Statesman teamed up with Idaho Public Television and EarthFix reporter/producer Aaron Kunz to explore this issue. You can read Barkers full story here. This is just one of many stories Barker has written about the issue. Click the links below to see more of Rocky's work at the Idaho Statesman, as well as an Outdoor Idaho program on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.