ALERT: Owyhee Initiative Wilderness Proposal in southwestern Idaho

SAWS Action Alert

Comments should be sent to your US Senators and Congressman before April 15.

The Owyhee Initiative is currently being espoused as a landmark agreement between the ranching, recreation, and environmental community.  In truth, recreationists, along with hunters, were underrepresented in the process.

More information is available here –

Part of this agreement contains language that proposes 511,116 remote acres in Southwest Idaho be set aside for wilderness designation.┬á As people are aware, SAWSÔÇÖ position is strictly ÔÇ£No More Wilderness.ÔÇØ┬á We would like to get as many letters sent between now and tax day, April 15.┬á Many letters all at once could have a greater impact than those that trickle in over long periods of time.

The following contains excerpts of an alert prepared by the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.  A big Thank You goes to them for their knowledge of this issue.  ISSA Public Lands Director Sandra Mitchell represented the People For The Owyhees, one of ten member organizations on the Owyhee Initiative board, and when a vote for passage was asked for, she rightfully abstained. 

Please address all letters to your Senators and Congressman.┬á Include your name, address, and phone number.┬á When sending email, we MUST include ÔÇÿOwyhee InitiativeÔÇÖ in the subject line.┬á Otherwise the email will not be read.

Idaho Residents ÔÇô Here is the contact information for our elected officials:

      The Honorable Larry Craig
      United States Senate
      225 N. 9th Street
      Suite 530
      Boise, ID  83702

      The Honorable Mike Crapo
      521 E. Front Street
      Suite 205
      Boise, ID  83702

      The Honorable Butch Otter
      802 W. Bannock
      Suite 101
      Boise, ID  83702

Here are links for those outside of Idaho.

Lookup your U.S. House Representative

Lookup your U.S. Senator

Start letters with Dear Senator or Congressman __________

If you are familiar with the Owyhees, explain who you are and your experiences with this area.  Why you recreate or use the Owyhees and what the area means to you.  Make the comments as personal as you can, coming from the heart, and make it clear that this issue is important to you, your family and your friends.

If you are not familiar with the Owyhees, identify yourself as an Idahoan (or other state resident) with an interest in the management of public lands.  Explain how you use our public lands.  Make your comments as personal as you can, coming from the heart, and make it clear that this issue is important to you, your family and your friends.

The rest of the letter should address the reasons why you do not support the Owyhee Initiative.┬á Suggestions for issues you might want to include are listed below. Please feel free to expand upon them. You do not have to include all of themÔÇösome you may not agree with.┬á This is your letter so express your position.┬á Also, you may have other objections you wish to bring up–the more personal the letter the better.


Some comments to consider:

  • Idaho has enough wilderness, over 4 million acres, and doesnÔÇÖt need more.┬á
  • This land is not under any threat from motorized recreation and no compelling need for wilderness designation has been demonstrated.┬á
  • There is no logical reason to tie efforts to protect cattle grazing to the designation of wilderness.┬á I support the cattle industry and would support legislation to help them but it should not be tied to a loss of access for me.┬á
  • The land involved in this proposal is already protected quite adequately under existing law.┬á Designation as wilderness will actually diminish the level of protection by severely limiting management options.┬á
  • I cannot support over 510,000 acres being recommended for wilderness in the Owyhee Initiative.┬á 100,000 acres in this proposal have been determined to be unsuitable for wilderness by the BLM.┬á These lands could best be used for other purposes including grazing, wildlife habitat and recreation.┬á
  • Garat has to be maintained as a crossing.┬á At present, the public has access to the lower end of Battle Creek through the Jackson family property at Riddle.┬á This road is private, however, and there is no guarantee that access will be granted in the future.┬á If the family, or any subsequent owner, ever decides to close the road, thousands of acres of public lands will become inaccessible to us.┬á Having a crossing at Garat will provide an alternative route to the lower end of the Battle Creek and Yatahoney Creek drainages.┬á
  • CrutcherÔÇÖs Crossing is proposed to remain open but the wilderness boundary extends approximately four air miles (7 road miles) north of the river to a small 200 acre section of private property known as the C Ranch.┬á This small private property controls all access to the crossing from the north side of the river because the road goes through it.┬á There is no guarantee an easement can be obtained from the landowner before any legislation is passed.┬á
  • The Dickshooter loop road provides the primary access routes for hunters and other recreationists into Deep Creek and Battle Creek Canyons.┬á Access from this road cannot be compromised.┬á
  • The recreation community was underrepresented in the Owyhee Initiative negotiations.┬á The playing field was not level and the interests of recreations were not given adequate consideration.┬á
  • Hunting, mining and other interests were not sufficiently represented.┬á
  • Hard release language has to be considered for Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) being released from WSA status.┬á The agencies should never again be able to consider these areas for Wilderness.┬á
  • If hard release language is unacceptable, then we suggest that those WSAs released be designated ÔÇ£BackcountryÔÇØ.┬á With this designation, one can ensure that these lands maintain their present character in perpetuity and allow for the uses that are appropriate, including grazing and motorized vehicles.┬á

**Please send this alert to anyone you know that supports shared access to OUR public lands.**

Thank you all for your interest in and dedication to protecting YOUR right to ride.

Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Protecting the right to ride for the owners of 247,864 registered snowmobiles (2004) in the western United States.

Copyright ┬® 2005 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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