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Idaho House shoots down resolution for 50th anniversary of Sawtooth NRA

Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio

A resolution to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area this year passed the Idaho Senate but was voted down by the House Wednesday.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), Rep. Sally Toone (D-Gooding) and Rep. Ned Burns (D-Bellevue).

“The importance of the SNRA cannot be overstated,” Burns said on the House floor. “Idaho’s river outfitters, guides, hunters, anglers and tribes rely on the intact habitat and clean water, which contributes significantly towards the economies of our rural communities in the area.”

Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) said she did not have a problem recognizing the 50th anniversary of the area’s formation.

“It’s a beautiful place,” she said, but she took issue with some lines she believes encourage more public land restrictions in Idaho, which she opposes.

That section of the resolution reads, “as land management agencies consider changes to future public land designations, those changes should be considered only through a transparent process that includes input from Idahoans, including those most impacted by new designations.”

Boyle said because this wording is not specific to the Sawtooth NRA, it could lead to more designations on public lands in Idaho like through the Wilderness Act.

“I believe we are saying, ‘Yeah, we agree to more wilderness, more restrictions,’ because we’re not specific in here,” she said.

She pointed to the Biden Administration’s goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the country’s land and water by 2030, which she said translates to more restrictions on public lands.

Burns explained that part of the resolution was meant to suggest that any future changes to public land designations in Idaho should happen through a public process with local input.

The resolution failed with 51 opposing votes. All House Democrats and six Republicans voted in favor of it.

The 50th Anniversary of the Sawtooth National Recreation Act, which established the Sawtooth NRA in central Idaho in 1972, is in August of this year. The U.S. Forest Service and other organizations are planning events around the anniversary.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.