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Idaho's Conservation Experiment, 50 Years Later

Idaho’s Conservation Experiment, 50 Years Later

Idaho’s Conservation Experiment, 50 Years Later

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area includes more than 700,000 acres of rigid mountain peaks, 700 miles of trails and more than 300 alpine lakes.

The central Idaho destination offers diverse outdoor recreation opportunities such as rafting, backpacking, fishing and hunting.

The SNRA was established by Congress on August 22, 1972.

Fifty years later, Boise State Public Radio is exploring how the SNRA was established, how it’s working today, and what its future holds.

Read our stories on the SNRA below.

A view of the Sawtooth Mountains on a sunny, blue-sky day.
Rachel Cohen
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Boise State Public Radio
Idaho is the only Western U.S. state without a national park, and that's not accidental. Proposals introduced by regular citizens and politicians alike have been shut down for a variety of reasons, including because the idea was very unpopular with ranchers in central Idaho. In the 1960s U.S. Sen. Frank Church was ready to be the new champion of the movement, though he quickly realized it might not be the best path forward.

An aerial view of Redfish Lake in front of the Sawtooth Mountains
EcoFlight
The Sawtooth Valley is prime habitat for Chinook and sockeye salmon; it's where the headwaters form to the Salmon River.

The view of the Sawtooth Mountains from the window inside a cabin.
Rachel Cohen
/
Boise State Public Radio
The SNRA was created in 1972, in part to halt development springing up on the Sawtooth Valley floor. There was hardly any local zoning at the time. Subdivisions were growing and more were planned.

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Rachel Cohen
We take you on a trip to a wilderness paradise to look at the past, present and future of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.