Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Worth exploring


    Anyone who knows the great outdoors of Central Idaho knows that the Boulder and White Cloud mountains north of Sun Valley are worth exploring. So, too, is the idea that they may be worthy of protection as a national monument.
    The Idaho Conservation League is calling on state residents to consider the idea.
    Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has tried futilely for more than a decade to gain passage of a bill to protect a part of the heart of Idaho that’s been in legislative limbo for too long. A year ago in an interview with The Idaho Statesman, Simpson said that while he would prefer wilderness protection for the area, designation as a national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 could also protect it.
    The difference? Technically, Simpson’s sidelined bill, called the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, was negotiated to satisfy competing interests in the area. Despite rare widespread agreement about the need for protection and the compromises struck, the bill went nowhere in successive sessions of a now famously gridlocked Congress.
    Unlike a wilderness area, national monuments may be created by presidential proclamation with the sweep of a pen. Protections available under the designation are flexible, the ICL says.
    Such action is bound to generate opposition from hardcore states’ rights advocates who wish to restrict presidential authority. Yet, President Obama owes them nothing and could make the designation with no political risk.
    “Doing it right” has yielded nothing for a gem that needs protection. Designation as a national monument would create widespread, lasting recognition, more visitor traffic and an economic boost that Central Idaho desperately needs.
    It’s an idea worth exploring.




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