January 15, 2009 in Nation/World, Region

Crapo lauds Senate passage of wilderness bill

Associated Press
 

BOISE — Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo says the U.S. Senate’s approval today of a wilderness bill is a huge win for the state.

The bill sets aside more than 2 million acres of wilderness nationally, including 517,000 acres in Idaho.

Crapo has been working for eight years with a coalition of ranchers, wilderness advocates, recreationists and others to get part of southwestern Idaho’s Owyhee canyonlands designated as wilderness.

He says he has been working closely with the House and expects the bill to pass there as well.

The 73-21 Senate vote today came after days of partisan wrangling over one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in 25 years. Other land to be protected also includes Oregon’s Mount Hood, California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.

The bill also allows construction of what critics call a “road to nowhere” in an Alaska wildlife refuge. Supporters say the road is needed for residents of a remote village who now use a hovercraft to reach an airport and hospital.

The bill now goes to the House.

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