Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, who served in the Jimmy Carter administration as Interior Secretary, is less concerned about the means to the end than the results in conservation efforts, especially regarding increased protection for the Boulder-White Clouds region.
Andrus, a Democrat, told the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board Tuesday that he counts Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, as a friend and ally in support of greater protection for the beloved Boulder-White Clouds region.
The 82-year-old Andrus has supported Simpson’s laudable 10-year wilderness legislative protection effort for the region via the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA).
Since that seems stalled, Andrus lately has been working on a Plan B: National Monument status by President Barack Obama through the Antiquities Act, an option exercised by numerous occupants of the White House since President Teddy Roosevelt.
If the idea of a monument — unpopular to some — agitates legislators, Andrus hopes it will spur renewed interest in Simpson’s CIEDRA — or ultimately lead to monument consideration. Either way, Andrus believes protection is lacking in a roughly 570,000-acre area that the Idaho Conservation League and others have targeted for a change in status. The area would include portions of the existing Sawtooth National Recreation Area and public lands now managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, among others.
Though sensitive to the wishes of “motorized” enthusiasts of these public lands, Andrus points out that they already have access to generous portions of the 54 million acres of public areas in Idaho. Andrus doesn’t believe a monument status would curtail any given group’s activities.
But no agreement or exact boundaries have been hammered out, even though talks involving Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Obama Administration officials have been ongoing with Idaho stakeholders.
On Tuesday Andrus said he believed Sandra Mitchell, executive director of the lobbying group Idaho Recreation Council, was paying a visit to Washington D.C. to represent her constituents’ interests in any new developments.
In this video Andrus discusses some of the issues stakeholders will encounter should a change of status be in the works: