The spectacular mountains and high valleys in central Idaho have always been considered irreplaceable and deserving of strong protection. The Sawtooths, Boulders, and Whitecloud Mountains were considered several times as a potential National Park. Idahoans and political leaders worked to keep it something other than a National Park to maintain grazing, hunting, and private land ownership while creating public lands protection and curtailing further commercial mining developments. In the late 70s, the threats of a large molybdenum mine on Castle Peak mobilized the local community, Idaho, and the Nation to better protect these lands. In 1972, Congress established the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) to protect nearly 800,000 acres forever. Public Law 92–400 is the legal document that designated the National Recreation Area, named the important values of the SNRA, and created the Sawtooth Wilderness from the Sawtooth Primitive Area.
Twenty-Five years later, new threats arose that required the mobilization of the public and advocacy with policymakers to better protect the SNRA. The Sawtooth Society was formed in 1997 in response to the major threat of a highly visible 160-acre subdivision in the Stanley Basin. The Society, in its first years, helped negotiate an end to the controversial subdivision, mobilized policymakers, and successfully urged Congress to appropriate $17 million to the Forest Service for the purchase of conservation easements on 13 properties protecting this land in perpetuity.
From the outset, the mission of the Sawtooth Society has been to preserve, protect, and enhance the special values of the SNRA. Over the years, this mission has been fulfilled through advocacy, enhancing recreation facilities and services, building collaborative solutions, and facilitating stewardship of volunteer programs in the SNRA.
Because those early founders of the Sawtooth Society saw the critical impacts that could have occurred here in this wild heart of the Central Rockies, we can enjoy what the SNRA is today. Untouched, unspoiled, and undeniably Idaho.