From the Idaho Falls Post Register (08/03) :
Whatever it is, he’s against it by Marty Trillhasse
“Butch Otter tends to keep his mouth shut, apparently hoping to cruise to election victory this year on the strength of his Republican credentials. With good reason. When he speaks, he gets into trouble. Last week, he lobbed a political hand grenade at fellow Congressman Mike Simpson’s Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill just as it passed the House.
Otter may not like wilderness as a general rule. So it’s no surprise he came out against it (even though he missed the vote). What counts is how he opposed it. Boulder-White Clouds is Simpson’s signature bill, not some obscure budget measure. So you’d think Otter would tell his partner in the House early and forthrightly if he had problems with the legislation.
Presumably they’d find a way to agree — or at least an agreeable way to disagree. Instead, Otter waits until the eve of the House vote — July 23 — to tell a Custer County audience he’d oppose it.
Simpson found out the next day and the voters were told a few days afterward.”
Congressman Simpson published his response to Otter’s opposition to protecting wilderness in the Spokesman Review on 08/06 and in the Post Register on 08/04:
Lastly, Congressman Otter seems unable to work with Republican colleagues in resolving his concerns about protecting Idaho wilderness lands. From the Statesman and the AP (08/04):
Excerpts: “With the U.S. House passage of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), Idaho is one step closer to realizing the benefits of the most important piece of public lands legislation proposed in the last 25 years. Having authored this legislation, I feel compelled to respond to comments made by… Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter to clear up any misunderstandings about CIEDRA.”
“In a recent editorial printed in the Idaho Statesman (July 27), Otter's staff was quoted as stating that one of Otter's concerns is including "release language" for lands that aren't included as wilderness. This statement is difficult to understand since 131,600 acres of wilderness study areas are released from their current status and put back into multiple use. Moreover, under CIEDRA, there will not be a single acre of land in the Boulder-White Clouds managed as wilderness study area.
As for the Sierra Club's and Otter's concerns for the fate of traditional users, they should read the bill.
CIEDRA does not create a motorized playground and it does not eliminate motorized use. CIEDRA locks in motorized use on almost all of the trails and snowmobile areas used today. It comes as close as possible to maintaining the status quo for future generations to use and enjoy. CIEDRA has garnered the widespread support of local and statewide officials including the Custer County and Blaine County commissioners, East Fork ranchers, Sen. Mike Crapo, Gov. Jim Risch, former Govs. Cecil Andrus and Dirk Kempthorne and former Sen. Jim McClure. They understand the importance of passing CIEDRA so that Idahoans, rather than the courts, decide how our land is managed.”
“This legislation is anything but a "rush job." It has been in the works for more than six years and written in bill form for more than three. I can understand that some people are unwilling to compromise and respect their reasons for that position. I am open to criticism of CIEDRA and the constructive dialogue that criticism can generate. But I'm not going to sit back and just listen when I hear… a congressional spokesman make accusations that are inconsistent with reality. To do so would be a disservice to the public and future generations of Idahoans.”
“Crapo's bill (Owyhee Initiative) is the second Idaho land-use measure to be put before this session of Congress, joining a House-passed measure sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson that would create 315,000 acres of new federal wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains in central Idaho. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter hasn't read the Owyhee bill yet, but said Thursday that he's already expressed his concerns to Crapo. One of which is to ensure the bill is explicit that any land released from wilderness could not be redesignated. A spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig said the senator hasn't seen the bill and has not been involved with its development. Gov. Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson said Wednesday they support the initiative.”
Former Governor Andrus characterized Otter’s absence on protecting wilderness when he said: “Congressman Otter has never shown the grit for real leadership. He’s never tackled a complicated issue or done the hard work of compromising and working out what’s best for Idaho.”
“Jerry Brady is the man I trust to protect Idaho’s heritage,” Andrus said.