Idaho Senator Proposes New Wilderness Area for Scotchman Peaks

The proposed wilderness area includes the 7,009-foot Scotchman Peak

By Dillon Tabish

SPOKANE, Wash. — U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, has introduced a bill that would protect the state’s portion of the craggy, scenic Scotchman Peaks.

Risch’s proposed legislation would designate about 14,000 acres as a federal wilderness area, limiting development to preserve the land’s natural character and ecological function, The Spokesman-Review reported.

The proposed wilderness area includes the 7,009-foot Scotchman Peak, which is home to mountain goats, a popular hiking trail and a summit overlooking the Clark Fork River delta. The entire Scotchman Peaks region is about 88,000 acres and includes federal land in Montana that would require separate legislation for protection.

Risch said he plans to hold hearings on the legislation next year.

The proposal “would allow future generations of Idahoans to enjoy Scotchman Peaks, while at the same time protecting the needs and rights of local communities and tribes,” the senator said in a statement.

The Sandpoint-based nonprofit Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness was formed to generate support for the wilderness designation in 2005. It praised Risch for introducing the bill.

The Bonner County Board of Commissioners, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce and Idaho Forest Group, which operates sawmills in North Idaho, also support the designation.

“Anyone who has hiked to the top of the peak understands the majesty of the area and the importance of preserving it,” said Cary Kelly, chairman of the Bonner County board.

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