Plans to establish a federally designated national monument in central Idaho include protection of vast roadless areas in the White Cloud Mountains, above.
Express photo by Roland Lane
Blaine County commissioners on Wednesday expressed unanimous support for the creation of a national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds mountains north of Ketchum.
Following nearly two hours of public testimony during a special meeting at the old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey, the commissioners agreed to conduct a second meeting at an as-yet-unspecified date to draft a resolution containing the language that they would like to see in a presidential proclamation designating a monument.
As has been the case during previous meetings on the subject, much of the testimony from the 40 or so people attending the recent meeting expressed uncertainly about the only vague descriptions of the likely contents of a proclamation and subsequent management plan.
Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said he supports the proposed national monument, but added, “I don’t know if I’m ready to say let’s write a letter until I see a draft proclamation [from monument advocates].”
The commissioners agreed to solicit further comments from the public and monument proponents—primarily the Idaho Conservation League and The Wilderness Society—before drafting a detailed resolution.
However, Commissioner Larry Schoen suggested that a resolution support the compromises among interest groups contained in Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson’s proposed Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act. The legislation, first introduced in 2004, has sought to create a federal wilderness area in the Boulder-White Clouds, but has been stalled in Congress. That situation prompted the ICL to propose a national monument instead.
“The more cohesive we are as a group advocating for multiple interests, the better,” said Rob Mason, central Idaho representative for The Wilderness Society.
Several motorcycle riders and snowmobilers at the meeting expressed skepticism that the monument would benefit them.
“The more cohesive we are as a group advocating for multiple interests, the better.”
The Wilderness Society
Gary O’Malley, executive director of the nonprofit Sawtooth Society, said he was told by a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality in December that the council would not draft a national monument proclamation without first coming to Idaho to learn the opinions of local residents and without hearing good policy reasons for doing so.
Only a small part of the proposed 571,000-acre national monument would be in Blaine County; most would be in Custer County to the north.
Wayne Butts, chair of the Custer County Commission, said in a phone interview that he believes that “only a handful of people” in that county support a national monument, and the commissioners are “totally opposed” to the idea. He said monument advocates “have not shown to us that it’s going to do one goddamned thing for us.”
Butts said he was uncertain whether the Custer County commissioners have stated their opposition to the president, but said they have “certainly told congressional staff that if there’s any way they can help us put a stop to this, to get on board.”
He said that when Simpson was seeking support for CIEDRA, he told Butts that “this is going to be a lot better than what you’re going to get if the president just waves a pen.”
“If it were in Blaine County, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Butts said. “We don’t care what happens in Glitter Gulch.”
Greg Moore: email@example.com