By Cameron Rasmusson
Staffers of U.S. Sen. Jim Risch have planned another community meeting for residents to share their thoughts on the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
The open house will provide Risch’s office with important constituent input while answering questions for residents about what wilderness designation means for the Idaho Scotchman region. The open house is scheduled in the lead-up to Risch’s decision on when or if to reintroduce a Scotchman Peaks bill, which would categorize the Idaho region as wilderness if passed and signed into law. It is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Hope Elementary School, 255 Hope School Rd.
The open house follows a January meeting in Clark Fork that drew a majority of opponents to the proposal. Some attendees of the meeting said that Clark Fork residents had been ignored in the discussions leading up to Risch introducing the Scotchman Peaks wilderness bill in December. The Clark Fork City Council later echoed those complaints when members wrote a letter to Risch opposing the wilderness proposal.
In a January interview, Risch responded to those complaints, saying that residents would have plenty of time to contribute input into the proposal.
“I’m hearing through the grapevine that some people are saying, ‘We’ve been left out of the process,’” Risch said at his office in Washington, D.C. “There has been no process. We’re at the beginning of the process.”
“They’re going to have the opportunity to get their two cents in,” he later added.
In the same interview, Risch said he introduced the bill largely because of its support from several key stakeholders, including the timber industry, elected officials, businesses, newspapers and sportsmen. Among those who have endorsed the proposal are the Bonner County Board of Commissioners and the Idaho Forest Group.
“Nothing’s been decided yet,” Risch said. “I only introduced this because support seemed to have reached critical mass from a large cross-section of people.”
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