Legislation aims to reduce wilderness study areas in Idaho

The full Idaho House will consider legislation urging Congress to remove hundreds of thousands of acres from wilderness study area designation in Idaho, despite concerns it could also encourage Congress to designate more wilderness.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee Tuesday voted 10-7 to approve the House joint memorial put forward by Republican Representative Priscilla Giddings of White Bird.

Wilderness study areas typically carry the same restrictions as wilderness areas. Idaho has about 540,000 acres of wilderness study areas tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Federal officials have listed some of those study areas as not being suitable for wilderness designation, and only Congress can lift the designation.

Giddings said Congress should remove those as study areas to open the land up to industry and other uses. Her memorial legislation, if it clears the House and Senate, would be sent to Governor Brad Little and top federal elected and appointed officials asking Congress to act.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation spoke in favor of the legislation, saying land-use restrictions caused difficulty for members of the group who graze cattle.  (AP)

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