BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The U.S. House has approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson that would allow landowners to make repairs to historic water diversions located in two Idaho wilderness areas.

The House unanimously approved the measure this week, sending it on to the Senate for consideration.

The bill gives the U.S. Forest Service the power to issue permits to private property owners seeking to make fixes to irrigation or small hydropower operations located inside the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Simpson says the bill applies only on 25 projects that existed before those lands were declared wilderness by Congress.

Simpson says the bill is critical to ensure that these water systems can be maintained and preserved for the beneficial use of the landowners.

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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