Friday, December 27, 2013

National monument can be a success


    The Antiquities Act has been used by every president except Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush to protect swaths of the American landscape, many of them now cherished around the world.
    Now debate is swirling around the possible designation of the Boulder-White Clouds region of Central Idaho. Not surprisingly, arguments rage on the merits of such a designation, and fears abound, both merited and unmerited.
    The first thing that I will do is deal with obvious concerns. All four national land-management bureaus manage national monuments. The president has the authority to designate the management agency; in this case it will certainly be the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Concerns about National Park Service management are unwarranted.
    Second, only Congress can create legal “wilderness,” and the Antiquities Act does not allow for presidential action on that front.
    Third, it would be relatively easy to have a sentence in any national monument proclamation read something along the lines of “this proclamation does not affect any provision of Public Law 92-400” (the act that created the Sawtooth National Recreation Area).
    Now for some ideas that might bring about agreement that a monument proclamation is the right way to proceed.
    First, the proclamation should leave the details of on-the-ground decisions (possible road and trail closures, redesignations, even the directions for a management plan) to a group charted by the proclamation. The group should represent all affected interests, tribes included, and be appointed jointly by the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture and the governor of Idaho.
    Collaborative decision making may not always be the answer, but it has begun to work in Idaho, so why not try it here? The Forest Service and BLM must be directed to follow the recommendations of this group, and be empowered to interact with it closely.
    If the group cannot come to an agreement by a certain time, then the two federal agencies would be empowered to act themselves.
    Second, the Forest Service should be directed to treat the SNRA and its section of the national monument as equivalent to a national forest. The manager of those areas should have the same status as a forest supervisor; a number of individuals both within and outside of Forest Service have been making this case for years.
    Third, BLM has created, with congressional approval, its National Landscape Conservation System and will most likely incorporate its part of the Boulder-White Clouds into that system. Although not perfect, BLM has had some success developing policies to keep developed recreation outside of its national monuments; the Forest Service would likely act the same way. The proclamation could also make this clear.
    Fourth, the proclamation must prioritize the values that are the reason for the proclamation. The SNRA stated those values as “natural, scenic, historic, pastoral, and fish and wildlife values,” and these values ought be mapped onto the tasks assigned the collaborative group above.
    As for concerns that this will bring people into the area, I doubt that that will be the case. Indeed, the bigger concern these days, from former governor and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to former Craters of the Moon Superintendent and now National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, is that young people are not very interested in the outdoors. That is something to worry about.

    John Freemuth, of Boise, is a professor of public policy, former chair of the Bureau of Land Management Science Advisory Board, and a former seasonal national park ranger and advisor.

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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.