Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Plead guilty as charged

    It’s time for wilderness advocates to own the worn-out allegations of critics that arise every time one of Idaho’s nearly sacred wild places is proposed for protection under federal law.
    The proposal to give national monument status to the Boulder and White Cloud Mountains just north of us has un-earthed allegations that it would “lock out” ordinary people, reserve the area solely for the “wealthy elite” and ravage the potential for industrial development and good jobs in central Idaho.
    Yes, monument status would lock out people without a good pair of shoes. It would preserve the area for the “elite” who’re willing to turn off their engines, get out of their cars, hike uphill, ride horseback or traverse trails prepared for the elderly and handicapped.
    Yes, a monument could lock out the expensive engineered growls and noxious exhaust of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes—which cost thousands of times more than a pair of shoes—and leave visitors to experience the whisper of the wind and the crash of cascading water.
    Yes, it would preserve wilderness for the “elite,” those people who count their wealth in time and experiences, not just in cold cash. It would mean that these snobs, who wouldn’t have to pay a luxury hotel hundreds of dollars a day for a room with a view, could look down their noses at the rest of us from camp sites perched at high mountain lakes.
    Yes, it could prevent dynamiting and hauling away one of Idaho’s tallest peaks and some of the nation’s most awe-inspiring landscapes in the name of jobs that will end when the mines play out (see Idaho’s history of boom, bust and tailings that leach heavy metals.)
    Monument advocates should plead guilty as charged. As for the critics, they should get off the couch, turn off the screen, tie up their shoes, and join the “elite” to see Idaho as Lewis and Clark saw it.

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