This morning, while many in the Treasure Valley were still looking through the results of yesterday’s tumultuous municipal elections, the U.S. Mint was holding a ceremony in Salmon to launch the 50th installment in the “America the Beautiful Quarters” program, honoring the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.
Mint Director David J. Ryder said the new quarter “serves as a reminder of the essence of the wilderness: More than 2 million acres of prehistoric mountains, fertile conifers and commanding rivers but flourishing with stories of heritage and wonder.”
In Idaho, this particular one points to the heritage of the late Idaho Sen. Frank Church, said current 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson. “Idaho’s long been a leader in creating local solutions that fit our way of life,” Simpson told the crowd at the ceremony. “Perhaps there’s no greater example of a law that allows for creating local solutions than the Wilderness Act. It’s no coincidence that at the heart of this law and the principles which guide it, is Sen. Frank Church, who authored the law. While not every acre in Idaho is suitable for wilderness, the law allows county commissioners, local citizens, conservation groups, ranchers and many more to all have a seat at the table and find out what works for them.”
“It serves as an untouched laboratory for scientists,” he said. “It welcomes hunters, hikers and horses. In-holdings are protected, jet boats are allowed to plow the mighty Salmon River and private planes fly into back-country airstrips. Fair compromises were worked out, but the boundaries of the Idaho and Salmon River Breaks Primitive Areas were kept intact. This ecosystem was not marginalized.” You can read my full story online here at idahopress.com (subscription required).