Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tic toc on monument designation

    Blaine County and Sun Valley-area cities need to jump into the developing debate over the creation of a national monument that may include 500,000 acres or more of roadless areas in the Boulder and White Cloud mountains.
    Others who should participate include District 26 legislators and groups that represent local businesses.
    If leaders of local government and business groups don’t jump in, they risk being ruled by a plan shaped by outside groups that don’t have the granular knowledge of what’s on the ground in roadless areas and that have no direct connection to or understanding of the economy in the Sun Valley area.
    Local leaders shouldn’t wait to be invited to a negotiating table that doesn’t yet exist. They should insert themselves into the debate and exert control because any monument designation would have lasting impacts on the people who live and work in the cities that stand at the entrance to one of the wildest and most beautiful areas in Idaho.
    The time for debate and planning is finite because monument backers hope that President Obama, with just three and a half years left in his final term in office, will make the designation. The time will evaporate rapidly, so the outlines of any monument proposal will need to take shape quickly.
    Planning could take unexpected turns. For example, this week a Wilderness Society representative told the Idaho Statesman that any new monument should include the existing 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
    The clock is ticking. Local leaders should not let the debate or planning continue without them any longer.

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