The House Resources Committee today voted to send a memorial to Congress calling for allowing helicopters to land in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness for the purpose of putting radio collars on wolves. Normally, of course, wilderness areas are places where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed and aircraft don’t land – and the Forest Service has told Idaho just that. “This would have to be a special exception,” said Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene. The committee was so keen to pass the measure that it voted to both introduce it and send it directly to the full House for a vote – without first holding the usual public hearing. Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, offered a substitute motion to follow the usual procedure, but only Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, and the panel’s three Democrats (including Jaquet and Sayler) voted for that option, and the measure zoomed out of the committee.
“There was obviously some people that wanted to testify, and I felt we should give ‘em that opportunity to come in, though I think the Forest Service is wrong,” Eskridge said. “It’s a public meeting. That’s what committee meetings are about.”