DC Update – Encouraging Meetings

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 by »
Your Voice is Being Heard

Your Voice is Being Heard

YOUR voice has been heard in the halls of congress!  A large and diverse group of individuals, business and community leaders as well as everyday constituents have expressed the idea that Scotchman Peaks should be wilderness. And our congressional representatives are listening.

Achieving community consensus is vital to the process. Our work for the last almost 11 years has often been described as building “political inevitability”:  the idea that public support is so diverse and strong that there is a critical mass compelling our elected officials to do something. Or, as another person put it, perhaps more colorfully, this last week: “you need to make it so that no one wants to be the first jackass to say ‘no’ to the proposal”.  Now THAT’S some critical mass! Or maybe “Jackmass”?!

Riding this wave of community support we went to DC last week, with high hopes and expectations.  And it seems that we are finally at that point were our forward momentum has us talking less about “whether” and more about “when and how” to put together a congressional bill that will designate the Scotchman Peaks in Idaho as Wilderness!

Oddly, the most important meetings sometimes end up being short ones.  Real change occurs when a proposition shifts from being the idea of a small group to a vision embraced by the community. And it doesn’t take a lot of dialogue to recognize that shift; it only takes a moment to acknowledge the impact of the change that has already occurred. Such was our meeting with Senator Risch.

In general, all of our meetings in DC were encouraging. But we, once again, had especially positive dialogue with Senator Risch about the prospects for introducing a bill for the Idaho portion of the Scotchmans.  The Senator had to hurry away to a vote after just a few minutes, but in that time he reinforced the very positive remarks he made last May regarding his intent to take action.

There is nothing certain in politics and the process moves slowly, through a long series of short and longer meetings. But this last week marked significant forward movement for us. Important natural resource questions such as funding for wildfire work by the national forest are taking center stage right now. And election year politics are always especially tricky. So we may have to wait.  But we have hope that we will see even more forward progress sooner rather than later.

We do know that your continued support and engagement is a critical part of that process. If you haven’t contacted you’re congressional representative to now (in the next few weeks) is a good time to do so.  You can click here or cut and paste this easy link into your web browser for details:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51165/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12516

Even if you have already contacted your representative, consider doing so again. Remind them that you are waiting and still supportive; help to keep the momentum going!

About The Author:

Phil Hough is the Executive Director of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

An avid long distance hiker, Phil's experience on the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trails brought a passion for wild places and motivated him to work towards protecting the one of the last and largest wild places in northern Idaho and Western Montana, the Scotchman Peaks.

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