Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Matthew McKinney, Robin Saha


Idaho wilderness process, wilderness designation, wilderness legislation


University of Montana


This paper examines new emerging trends in wilderness legislation through the lens of the proposed Central Idaho National Forest and Public Land Management Act (H.R. 192). While the bill proposes to designate over 300,000 acres of the Boulder and White Cloud Mountains into the National Wilderness Preservation System, it also includes special land-management provisions not commonly seen in wilderness bills before the 1990s. These emerging trends in wilderness legislation have been a contentious issue within the conservation community, with strong debates over how much compromise is necessary and appropriate. One of the most controversial topics in these new wilderness strategies is the inclusion of federal land conveyances to local communities. In the case of H.R. 192, over 4,000 acres of public land would be conveyed to local counties as a tactic to gain county-level support for wilderness designation and to promote economic stimulus to rural communities. As federal land conveyances deal with the public domain, certain statues and regulations govern public land transfers in order to protect the public interest. This paper also analyzes the effect of federal land conveyances on the public interest by evaluating their compliance with administrative public land policies. Lastly, this paper explores recommendations for determining whether wilderness protection for the Boulder-White Clouds is worth the compromise of other public lands. While this process is difficult and complex, recommendations on the future of wilderness designation address the economic role of western public lands, considerations for conservation of biological diversity, and the influence of the current political landscape.

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© Copyright 2010 Celina M. Moreno