House approves wilderness disaster resolution

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho lawmakers seek the federal government’s attention by urging the U.S. Forest Service to declare the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness a disaster area.

The measure passed along party lines 57-13 Monday.

It now goes to the Senate.

The problem, some argue, is wildfires, high winds and neglect have led to the degradation of the 2.3 million acre backcountry preserve.

Trails are blocked by snags, making it tougher for hikers, sportsmen and other recreationists to enjoy it.

Sponsor Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace says the nonbinding measure simply asks for the U.S. Forest Service to tackle the issue or allow volunteer groups to do it, using primitive tools.

Boise Rep. Mat Erpelding, a Democrat and wilderness guide, worried the resolution demonized fire, a natural part of the forest ecosystem.

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