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Simpson’s Boulder White Clouds Bill Signed by President
President Barack Obama signs legislation into law

Washington, Aug 7 | 

U.S. President Barack Obama today signed into law Congressman Mike Simpson’s legislation creating three new Wilderness areas in Idaho. The legislation, The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act (H.R. 1138), was signed earlier today in a signing ceremony at the White House.

“I am grateful to President Obama for his signature on this important legislation and humbled by the tireless work of countless Idahoans that led to its passage,” said Simpson. “The Boulder White Clouds area is now protected, in perpetuity, by the gold standard of preservation designations. I am proud that this was accomplished through a truly collaborative process that produced an Idaho solution to decades of conflict and debate. Without the work of our many partners in this process, and especially the tireless efforts of Senator Jim Risch, today’s signing would not have been possible.”

Specifically Simpson’s legislation will do the following:

  • Sawtooth National Recreation Area:  The Sawtooth National Forest would remain as the principle administrative body and the current management would remain intact under the existing SNRA law (PL 92-400) and the existing SNRA management and travel plans.  The Challis BLM would remain the managers of the East Fork BLM and Salmon-Challis National Forest areas.
  • Wilderness:  Three new wilderness areas would be created totaling 275,665 acres. They are the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness (88,079 acres), the White Clouds Wilderness (90,841 acres) and the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness (117,040).  The total wilderness acreage would be reduced by 36,968 acres from the original CIEDRA bill that would have created 332,928 acres.
  • Multiple Use:  Four wilderness study areas would be released back to multiple use: the Jerry Peak Wilderness Study Area, the Jerry Peak West Wilderness Study Area, the Corral-Horse Basin Wilderness Study Area, the Boulder Creek Wilderness Study Area and any USFS recommended wilderness not made wilderness totaling 155,003 acres. This is up 23,333 acres released from the original CIEDRA bill which totaled 131,670.
  • Motorized Use:  No roads that are currently open to vehicles, or trails that are currently open to two wheeled motorized use would be closed.  The Grand Prize and Germania trails (including the ridge in between) and the Frog Lake Loop would be excluded from wilderness and remain open to two wheeled motorized use under the existing SNRA travel plan.  The following higher elevation snowmobiling areas would remain open as allowed under the existing SNRA travel plan: 4th of July Basin, Washington Basin, Phyllis Lake Basin, Champion Lakes and Warm Springs Meadows.
  • Mountain Bikes:  All areas currently open to mountain bikes outside of the proposed wilderness will remain open.  Under CIEDRA, the 4th of July trail would have been closed to mountain bikes and will now remain open.  This allows the Pole Creek/Washington Basin/4th of July loops to remain open.  The Germania/Grand Prize Corridor trails and all trails outside of the wilderness would remain open to mountain bikes subject to the SNRA travel plan.
  • Grazing:  Grazing plays an important role in the heritage and economies of rural Idaho and Custer County.  Along the East Fork of the Salmon River, generational ranching families provide significant benefits in maintaining the historic character and nature of East Fork while providing significant conservation benefits to the land, including sustaining the wide, open spaces and un-fragmented landscapes of the East Fork valley. In order to provide another tool for these families to maintain their livelihoods, a provision has been included to provide permittees within and adjacent to the proposed wilderness areas with a way to help them remain viable with as little disruption as possible.  Permittees with allotments within the boundaries of the “Boulder White Clouds Grazing Area Map” would be allowed to voluntarily retire their grazing permits and be eligible for compensation from a third party conservation group.  With this compensation, it is hoped that the ranching families will be able to create more secure and certain opportunities for future generations.
  • Support to Counties:  Over $5 million in grants have been provided to Custer County and the surrounding Boulder-White Clouds communities for a community center, a county health clinic and EMT support, and improvements to Trail Creek Highway.  Individual parcels of land will be conveyed to Custer and Blaine counties, and rural communities for public purposes the per latest CIEDRA bill.
  • Recreation Support:  Over $1.5 million in grants have been provided to the SNRA for trail maintenance and improvements, including maintenance and improvements to existing motorized trails and two existing trails to provide primitive wheelchair access, and for acquiring the land to build a mechanized bike/snowmobile access trail between Redfish Lake and Stanley.


Simpson Reaffirms Commitment to Stopping EPA Water Grab

Washington, Jan 29

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has signed on as an original cosponsor of H.R. 594, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which would support the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This bill addresses widespread concerns with the EPA proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the country. Congressman Simpson was also a cosponsor of this legislation when it passed the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress.

“This bill responds to some of the most troubling aspects of the EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction,” said Simpson. “The EPA initially claimed that its rule would provide clarity and flexibility, unfortunately this is not the case. Idahoans have serious concerns about how the EPA may decide to interpret this rule in the future, thus causing even more uncertainty than they have now.”

The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act expands on the achievements of House Republicans in the FY15 Cromnibus bill which included provisions restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, such as soil and water conservation practices, from regulation.

“This bill recognizes that the EPA’s proposed rule undoes many existing and successful partnerships for cleaning up and maintaining our waterways, whether those are partnerships between farmers, ranchers, and conservationists or local, state, and federal governments,” said Simpson. “I think it’s an arrogant assumption on the part of the EPA to say that they alone should have such authority over every drop of water across the country.”

Simpson has long been a leader on this issue. As Chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, he included similar language in the FY2015 House Energy and Water Appropriations Act and authored language in the FY2015 House Interior and Environment Appropriations Act to prohibit the agencies from finalizing the proposed rule.

 

 

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Simpson Praises Institute of Medicine’s Report on White Potatoes

Report: white potatoes contribute to useful quantities of potassium and fiber to Americans’ diets

Washington, Feb 5

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson commends the recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggesting that fresh, white potatoes should not be excluded from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.  Simpson has been raising this concern with the USDA for years and successfully included fresh, white potatoes in the WIC program in the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill that was signed into law.  

“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” said Simpson. “Congress has directed the USDA to allow WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families by including fresh, white potatoes in the program, yet the Administration has failed to follow through. I hope the USDA will listen to the IOM report they requested and once and for all permanently end this ridiculous exclusion.”

Simpson’s language in the FY2015 cromnibus only ended the exclusion for one year.

The IOM committee evaluated the 2009 regulation that excluded white potatoes from purchase with the WIC cash value voucher (CVV) and considers whether white potatoes should henceforth be allowed as a WIC-eligible vegetable in the CVV. Summary of the report is online, but some key findings are listed below:

  • Overall, the nutrient profile of white potatoes is similar to that of other starchy vegetables that are currently permitted for purchase with the CVV. Because white potatoes are so widely consumed, they contribute useful quantities of potassium and fiber to Americans’ diets.

  • The nutrient profile of white potatoes does not support their exclusion from the CVV because their nutrient content is similar to that of other starchy vegetables included in the CVV. Increased consumption of white potatoes could improve potassium intake for both women and children.

  • WIC participants’ intake of all fruit and vegetable subgroups could be improved. Current consumption of starchy vegetables does not meet 2010 DGA recommendations for this food group.

  • Overall diet quality for both WIC participants and WIC-eligible non-participants could be improved.

Simpson has advocated for the inclusion of fresh, white potatoes for years by writing letters to Secretary Vilsack, offering amendments and giving speeches to his fellow Congressman on the issue. To view Congressman Simpson defending fresh potatoes in the House Appropriations Committee, visit his YouTube page.

 

 

 

 

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