BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are looking for support for a bill giving the U.S. Forest Service the power to permit private landowners to repair and maintain water facilities in wilderness areas.

The Republicans introduced the bill Thursday to help a handful of owners with holdings in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

The facilities targeted in the bill provide drinking water for private cabins and ranches in some of Idaho's most remote backcountry. In some cases, Crapo and Risch say the lack of maintenance threatens the environment and watersheds.

To qualify for permits to perform the upgrades, water diversions must have been in existence at the time the areas were declared federal wilderness areas.

A similar bill passed the U.S. House this week.

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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