A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate to create a large, new wilderness reserve in central Idaho has been endorsed by the Obama administration. The legislation threatens to designate nearly 330,000 acres of land in central Idaho as wilderness, the most restrictive designation that can be placed on public lands. SEMA opposes the legislation as drafted since many off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests could be closed as a result of its passage.
For nearly a decade, lawmakers have proposed several variations of the Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness bill, also known as the “Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act.” The current bill is pending before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. There has been no action in the House.
Wilderness legislation is consequential since it potentially denies access to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase, much of which is manufactured by SEMA members.
SEMA supports land-use decisions that allow local communities and government authorities to participate in the decision-making process. Within that context, SEMA supports compromise approaches on wilderness areas that balance the need to preserve access to appropriate motorized recreation while protecting some of our nation’s natural wonders. This would include “cherry-stemmed roads,” which are corridors within wilderness areas that allow motorized recreation.