Senate Holds Hearing On Crapo's Bill To Extend Motorized Vehicle Use In Wilderness

Apr 21, 2016

The senate subcommittee on public lands, forests and mining will take up a bill Thursday with a long history in southwest Idaho.

Known as the Owyhee Wilderness Areas Boundary Modification Act, the bill amends a 2009 public land management law. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo’s bill would allow ranchers to use motorized vehicles to herd and monitor livestock in the wilderness areas.

Wilderness areas don’t normally allow for motorized use. But the 1964 Wilderness Act allowed ranchers to continue grazing in areas later designated as wilderness. When the southwest Idaho wilderness areas were created in 2009, an exception was made to allow ranchers to continue using motorized vehicles – like ATVs – to herd and monitor their livestock.

Crapo’s bill would allow this exception to continue. A number of conservation groups in the state support the bill, including the Wilderness Society and Idaho Conservation League. But it’s not clear yet how quickly the bill could move through Congress.

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