Guess here is that U.S. Representative Mike Simpson's Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act is on the bubble - on the cutting edge between passage or not, right now.
So we're right on the edge between Idaho getting its first new wilderness area in nearly a generation, or not. The point is this: If it waits until next year, the odds may easily turn against.
CIEDRA sets designation for parts of the Boulders and White Clouds area. Itis not universally loved, but then it's a compromise - getting signoff on a wilderness proposal these days isn't easy, from Simpson has got it on his complex package of goodies. The Wilderness Society has okayed it, generally; so have a lot of local people. Simpson's opponent this election, Democrat Jim Hansen, opposes it. But in the 1st district, where the seat is open, something unusual is happening: Republican Bill Sali is opposed, while Democrat Larry Grant is in favor.
This Congress and this president are not much of a mood to approve many new wilderness areas, and there's another in the Northwest on an even faster track: the Mount Hood wilderness plan, backed by Oregon Representatives Greg Walden (Republican) and Earl Blumenauer (Democrat). Walden has some sneiority and is perfectly positioned in the House to push his proposal through, and it's making progress.
The point, then: If Congress remains Republican next year, and Sali is elected, then the Idaho delegation will be split on CIEDRA - and that could be enough to stop it cold. Could be that it's either right now, or not for a while.
CIEDRA has made progress through the House, and looks well positioned to pass that chamber next week. And the measure has picked up some good support in the other chamber, with Senator Mike Crapo volunteering to push it through the Senate.
The future of CIEDRA may soon be in his hands.