A painstakingly collaborative process led by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (R) has led to the passage of the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act of 2008 as part of S. 22, an Omnibus bill, in the full Senate by a vote of 73-21, a larger margin than expected.
The Owyhee Initiative provisions contained in the bill create more than 500,000 acres of wilderness, release nearly 200,000 acres from wilderness study to multiple use and protect ranchers and rivers in Southwest Idaho.
The Lands bill also contains provisions for a land exchange in the Magic Valley and provisions to rename the Snake River Birds of Prey area in memory of raptor enthusiast Morley Nelson.
Crapo was joined by Senator Jim Risch in supporting the proposal during today’s vote. Risch said in a statement, “I congratulate my friend and colleague, Mike Crapo, on the passage of this legislation. He has put in an enormous amount of effort working with a wide variety of local citizens, elected officials and interest groups in creating consensus on this legislation,” said Risch. “It was my pleasure to support the Owyhee Initiative and the collaboration it represents.”
New West has learned that the full House will take up the vote Tuesday or Wednesday. It is expected to pass the House easily.
Crapo, the main backer of the bill, will talk to the media later today, at which time NewWest.Net will update this story.
A feature on the process used to produce the bill, and Crapo’s point of view about this and other negotiations, will follow.