With 1.2 million acres of roadless lands in the Clearwater Basin, the question of how much and where Wilderness should be designated has been the source of debate and controversy for over 50 years. Resolution of this issue is key to the future management of national forest lands and potentially an end to the longstanding public struggle over this issue.
- Battles over which areas should be Wilderness in the Basin is longstanding
- Resolution is key for public land management
- Resolution would quell contention and allow focus on other important issues
With enactment of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Selway Bitteroot Wilderness was designated and the Gospel Hump Wilderness followed in 1978. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area was established in 1980 and since that time no additional Wilderness areas have been established. Current Forest Plans recommend areas for Wilderness designation and the Idaho Roadless Rule identifies areas to be managed for “Wildland Recreation” which is generally consistent with recommended wilderness.
Over the course of the last 3 years, the CBC Land Allocation Subcommittee reviewed all of the roadless areas, which included over a million acres and recommended five backcountry areas for wilderness designation.
The areas being discussed include: Selway-Bitterroot Additions, Great Burn, Mallard Larkins (with the caveat of engaging Shoshone County, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and other stakeholders), East Meadow Creek,
and Cayuse Creek (aka East Bighorn-Weitas roadless area).