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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 9 - 15, 2003


Perfect candidate

Idaho is famous for its contrasts.

Rivers rush through parched deserts. Lakes that look like little more than storm puddles teem with fish. Itís most famous ski resort rises out of the sage plains like a mirage before the eyes of newcomers.

Perhaps itís the contradictionsóthat what you see is not necessarily what you get in Idaho--that inspired the Bush Administration to consider Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

To any outsider, it would seem Idahoís governor ought to be mightily concerned about environmental protection.

The stateís tourism sector is an economic powerhouse, continuing to grow while other sectors are shrinking.

A study released in the spring by the Outdoor Industry Foundationís Business for Wilderness program ranked Idaho residents first in the nation in participation in outdoor pursuits. A whopping 86.8 percent of Idaho residents participate in outdoor activities, including backpacking, climbing, fly fishing and hiking.

These residents elected Kempthorne.

It would seem safe to assume that the governor would have more than a passing interest in protecting the outdoors and its inhabitants that Idahoans clearly love. The assumption would be wrong.

Kempthorne listed as one of his qualifications for the job his creation of the "cabinet level" Office of Species Conservation, a mark of his concern for the outdoors.

Some concern.

The species conservation office is no such thing. The office was created to muzzle Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists on the issue of salmon recovery.

At the same time he muzzled the "scientists," the governor repeatedly called for "sound science, not sound bites" in discussions of salmon recovery. Instead, all the state got was sound bites.

The Office of Species Conservation was also created to keep the issue of wolf reintroduction in a political box instead of a biological one. That could come in handy in an agency the Bush Administration seems to want to render impotent.

This governor also packed the Idaho Fish and Commission with appointees whose priorities involve industrialization, not conservation.

All things considered, Kempthorne would be the perfect candidate to lead the Bush Administrationís EPA.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.