For many years, Idahoans have worked to conserve these mountains and strike a balance between protection, access and responsible use. In 2015, President Obama signed the The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, which created three new wilderness areas totaling 431 square miles. The bill was a compromise between conservationists and motorized recreation - the bill protected wilderness, but it also released four wilderness study areas of BLM land on the east side of the East Fork of the Salmon River, just north of the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness, which are now released to possible motorized use.
The Boulder-White Cloud mountains, located in the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis National Forests in Idaho, are characterized by high alpine lakes perched in glacial basins below rocky peaks, of which there are over 150 that tower higher than 10,000 ft. At 11,815 ft. but not visible from any highway, Castle Peak is the highest peak in the Boulder White-Cloud range. It looks down on the Boulder Mountains and the White Cloud Mountains. This area, left intact by a lack of roads, is known as the Boulder-White Clouds and constitutes part of the largest roadless area in the lower 48.
From the air, it is clear that the Boulder-White Clouds merit protection. The area’s 582,932 roadless acres hold partially forested valleys, open meadows covered by wildflowers, numerous streams that grow into large rivers, and highland lakes. The sweeping sagebrush hills offer beautiful vistas and the deep valleys are home to a wide range of wildlife. Streams in the Boulder-White Clouds provide critical habitat for threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead that migrate over 900 miles to reproduce as well as for threatened bull trout. The diverse topography and vegetation types also provide habitat for numerous species of mammals, reptiles, and birds such as endangered gray wolves, mule deer, black bears, cougars, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, spotted frogs, northern goshawks, flammulated owls, and neo-tropical birds. In the fall, a herd of 300-500 elk can be found in the eastern White Clouds near Herd Creek and East Pass Creek.
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