This week the United States House of Representatives passed legislation, sponsored by Idaho's Mike Simpson, to rename the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area after Morley Nelson.
In this week's Bill Sali Roundup over at the MountainGoat Report, Sali is cited as having supported Simpson's legislation, despite his overwhelming opposition to nearly every piece of legislation he is asked to vote on. Sali's support of this legislation signaled, at least to me, that the effort being made to rename the conservation area was both a win-win for Idaho and a sincere attempt of honoring a man who advocated the creation and expansion of the Snake River Birds of Prey area.
Beyond the obvious implication that the attachment of Morley Nelson's name to this important Idaho refuge is one of few instances of a united cause among Idaho's congressional delegation, a delegation that hasn't appeared to be united on much since Sali's congressional entrance and Larry Craig's demise, the legislation attaching Nelson's name appears to show Idaho's sincere respect and gratitude for a man who has influenced this state exponentially.
Nelson began his advocacy for birds of prey in Idaho in the 1950s. His first success in taking his cause to the Idaho Legislature came in 1958 when the legislature first passed legislation to protect raptors throughout the state. Nelson would continue to work with the state legislature and other interests in protecting Idaho's raptors. In 1980, Nelson resurfaced in Idaho as the loudest voice of support for the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and would stick around to see the creation of the World Center for Bird of Prey outside of Boise.
In Idaho's political environment, there are few issues that both the Republicans and the Democrats while holding office have committed equal time to and Morley Nelson's cause is one of them. Something common to each of the past twenty-five years of Idaho political history is an appreciation and concern for the state's birds of prey. At Idaho State University in the papers of former Idaho Congressman Richard Stallings, the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (now cross-listed and indexed as the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conversation Area) is a prominent topic. In the papers of former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco, housed at Boise State University, this topic is featured prominently.
It is refreshing to see an Idaho member of Congress addressing an issue that has been on the forefront of Idaho politics for many years with complete disregard for political persuasion or agenda. It is refreshing to see an issue appreciated and observed equally by both parties. Morley Nelson does not only matter in the realm of conservation and protection, his legacy and his example matter to a state that has been disconnected politically for far too many years.