The Frank Church Wilderness Area
Wilderness Areas are protected federal lands with specific rules and regulations regarding their use. For instance, motors are not permitted in designation wilderness areas.
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the lower 48 states. It is 2.3 million acres in size and includes parts of three huge mountain ranges: the Salmon River Mountains, Clearwater Mountains, and Big Horn Crag; as well as both the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon rivers.
Idaho Wilderness History
This piece of land was not always known as the Frank Church Wilderness Area. In 1931, a little more than one million acres in Idaho was set-aside by the Forest Service and called the "Idaho Primitive Area." In 1980, the Idaho Primitive Area, Salmon River Breaks Primitive Area, and a portion of the Magruder Corridor were combined to create the "River of No Return Wilderness Area."
Frank Church was an Idaho senator who was the floor sponsor for the Wilderness Act of 1964. It passed and protected nine million acres as designated wilderness area. In 1968, Frank Church introduced the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Two of the original rivers protected under this important act are the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon rivers.
In March of 1984, Congress honored Frank Church by renaming the areas as the "Frank Church- River of No Return Wilderness Area." Frank Church died a few weeks later, but not before seeing the fruit of all his hard work.