Idaho Boulder - White Clouds

Topics: Wilderness

The Boulder-White Clouds wilderness area is a protected land area in central Idaho that has about 276,000 acres of land. President Obama signed the Idaho Sawtooth Recreation Area and Jerry Park Wilderness Additions Act on August 7, 2015. This has created three separate wilderness areas: the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness Area, the White-Clouds Wilderness Area, and the Jim McClure-Jerry Park Wilderness Area. According to the Stevens historical research associates, this protected area has a lot of controversies involved between different stakeholders. Conservationists feel this land needs to be protected due to the declining wilderness areas in the United States but some want to use such wilderness areas for economic stimulation and growth.

If the public has a better understanding of the reason behind designating wilderness areas that would give us a more informative view of the debate between wilderness areas and public lands. This started a new controversy between the stakeholders that were involved, which included ranchers, the local government, wilderness proponents, and motorized recreationists. Ranchers were concerned that the new wilderness would restrict the way they were allowed to graze their animals, and this would make their lives more difficult by the additional rules.

They would be told what to do by people who were not experienced ranchers, and this would burden their lives more, instead, of making things easier.

The local government would benefit from this new wilderness area because it would attract many new visitors to the area which would bring more jobs, therefore, stimulating the growth of the local economy. Conservationists would have reached the achievement of their goal of preserving more wilderness areas in the United States, thus, helping preserve our future generations.

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The people who used recreational vehicles on the other hand were not thrilled about the prospect of losing their favorite outdoor spots. According to Boise Weekly, environmentalists and politicians worked for almost four decades to have this area designated as a protected wilderness. Each of these groups had a separate goal in mind that was beneficial to their ideology. Ranchers did not want to be put under a restriction by the government because the politicians’ goals did not always concur with their views on how to manage their cattle and their ranches. The goals of the local government are always to see their communities prosper and these local governments were not any different. The addition of the new wilderness areas would be an attraction for those seeking new outdoor adventures.

The goals of the wilderness proponents are to preserve more wilderness areas for the present and future generations because their belief is if we do not preserve these areas, eventually economic growth and development will work their insidious way into the last vestige of our beautiful wilderness. The Idaho Boulder-White Clouds wilderness area is located in central Idaho, east of Stanley. Idaho has a lot of outdoor recreational opportunities in beautiful wilderness areas. In 1926 the Forest Service decided that it would be a good idea to preserve this mountain range as a recreational area, and a place where hunters can enjoy their outdoor sports. According to the Stevens Historical Research Associates, the Idahoans’ view on the pros and cons of wilderness designation goes back almost as far back as the Wilderness Act of 1964. The designation of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area helped protect this land from being developed too much but some people still felt that it needed more protection. The Idaho politicians brought this before Congress because they felt a great need to protect this beautiful wilderness area. On August 7, 2015, President Obama signed this bill creating the Idaho Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness Area. These lands were used as outdoor recreational real areas by people such as hikers, mountain bikers, motorized vehicle users, and hunters. There was also the prospect of a mining operation that had the conservationists and politicians up in arms. They believed that it would ruin the natural beauty of the landscape and this brought about a renewed effort to designate this as a wilderness area. The Idaho politicians along with the conservationists fought a long and wearisome battle to preserve the Idaho Boulder-White Clouds as a wilderness area. This bill did not pass because there were too many stakeholders that opposed it. President Obama signed this legislation because of the Antiquities Act of 1906, this act gave him the authority that he needed. Although most of the stakeholders in Idaho were fine with the outcome. There were still areas that were left for mountain bikers and motorized vehicle users. There was not much of a compromise for most of the stakeholders because this became a national monument and not a protected wilderness area. Some of the motorized vehicles would not be allowed on some of the trails but for the most part, they could enjoy the great outdoors and its vast beauty. After researching and reading about the Idaho Boulder-White Clouds, I have concluded that this wilderness area was not an easy victory round for the conservationists and the politicians.

People in Idaho did not want more land to be protected as a wilderness area because of their gain or loss. Most of the stakeholders, such as the avid outdoorsmen or women, did not want to lose this area. According to the articles that I read, this debate went on for over forty decades. That is a long time to fight over something. The politicians, finally, found an ally in President Obama who signed this legislation into law by using the Antiquities Act of 1906 that gave him that power. At the end of the long and arduous battle, there were feelings of elation and feelings of bitter regret. The conservationists and the Idaho politicians were the happiest people in that entire group. They may not have got their way completely, but they did win a great victory. They knew that once this area became a national monument, it would be protected from those that wanted to industrialize the entire United States. The conservationists’ group wants to protect more wilderness areas from being developed and overstimulated. They have a belief that we need to preserve our planet from people because people are destructive moral agents. The other stakeholders in this debate, such as the outdoors’ activists, felt somewhat bittersweet about the outcome. I believe that they were not too disappointed that this became a national monument, but it did decrease the area that they can use, especially with their motorized vehicles or their mountain bikes. The local government would benefit from this legislation because of the way it would stimulate the growth of the economy by bringing in more people to the area. This would boost the local economy by providing a bigger job market and more opportunities for employment for the local people. A lot of the sources that I used were Idaho newspaper articles that felt connected to this case because of their proximity to it. Stevens Historical Research Associates is a research consulting firm that is located in Boise, Idaho.

They use research and writing to convey the message of history to their readers. The Red Lodge Clearinghouse is an internet website where the public may go and submit their comments regarding the government’s decisions that involve environmental issues with the western communities. The Blue Review is a part of the Boise State University School of Public Service and according to them, they public articles that are designed to be of high-quality and peer-reviewed to reach and serve the general public. According to them, the opinion of the article belongs to the writer, they do not represent the opinion of the School of Public Services or Boise State University. My recommendation for the Idaho Boulder-White Clouds wilderness area or the wilderness areas in Idaho, in general, is to leave them alone. We have enough protected wilderness areas; the rest needs to be left for the public to use and enjoy. I am glad that we are protecting our wilderness areas for future generations, but it is also a good idea to have areas that we can use for economic growth. After researching, reading, and writing about this case, I feel that I am more informed on the protected wilderness areas in Idaho specifically, and the United States in general. Reading about the battle of this case and the countless hours and minutes that everyone spent fighting for their side makes me realize what a monumental effort this was and the victory some of these stakeholders must have felt at the end. This taught me that good thing are worth the fight and to never give up if I believe in something. If similar cases do arise in the future, there will be years of battle for those involved but if they persevere, they may see victory in their lifetime.

Works Cited

  1. Boise Weekly Staff, Staff Pick. “Best Bitter-Sweet Moment.” Boise Weekly, Boise Weekly, 18 Nov. 2018,
  2. Hein, HannaLore, and Jennifer Stevens. “8/19/15 – The Boulder-White Clouds: the Long History of Wilderness in Central Idaho.” Stevens Historical Research Associates, 31 Jan. 2018,
  3. Keith, TK. “CMH Act and the Wilderness Debate: The Environment vs. The Economy.” Red Lodge Clearinghouse, 2018,
  4. Lee, E. Scott. “From CIEDRA to Wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds.” The Blue Review, 7 Dec. 2015, Medberry, Mike. “War and Wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds.” The Blue Review, 14 Apr. 2015,
  5. Smith, Brian. “Inside the Boulder-White Clouds Monument Debate.” Twin Falls Times-News, 6 Dec. 2013,

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Idaho Boulder - White Clouds. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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