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"I left inspired to protect the special places in my own backyard."
Sara Renner, Y2Y supporter

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Hidden gem in Idaho attracts attention, support

On the border between northern Idaho and western Montana exists a special place.

On the border between northern Idaho and western Montana exists a special place.

Known as Scotchman Peaks, this rugged, roadless landscape of 13,900 acres (5,625 hectares) is packed with alpine vistas and cedar-filled valleys, native plants and clear streams.

This is home for large animals such as elk, moose and grizzlies as well as a local symbol: mountain goats. It’s an important linkage zone, bridging the Bitterroot Mountains to the south with the Cabinet-Purcell mountain corridor extending up to Canada.

For more than 12 years the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness — a collaborative citizens’ group — has worked to build support from elected officials and the public, as well as industry such as timber and mining companies.

Partner grants from organizations such as Y2Y have enabled the group not only to garner this support, but to maintain trails and study rare, elusive animals such as wolverines, lynx, fishers and more.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Cams

Wildlife cameras capture a lynx and wolverine. Courtesy: Phil Hough/Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

Recognizing the value in preserving such wild places, U.S. Senator R-Idaho Jim Risch proposed to turn this region into the first wilderness area in Idaho’s panhandle in November 2016. The proposed legislation would make the wilderness permanent and binding upon future generations for perpetuity, blocking off-highway vehicles from damaging this pristine ecosystem.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness envisions a second addition and will continue to push for wilderness designation of 48,000 acres (19,425 hectares) in Montana, creating America’s first interstate wilderness area.

The bill, introduced by Risch to Senate on December 8, 2016, is now winding its way to Congressional approval.

“If passed, this legislation 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,” says Risch.

This community-led conservation moves us forward together on protecting key wildlife corridors and core areas.

We applaud Senator Risch and all who have engaged in this effort!

This story originally appeared in our February 2017 Connections newsletter. Subscribe to get more news like this delivered right to your inbox.