Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Commissioners approve national monument resolution

Chairman will deliver county document to White House

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County leaders are formally supporting a proposal to designate much of the Boulder and White Cloud mountains, above, as a national monument. Photo by Mountain Express

    The Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday finalized a resolution in support of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument that includes references to both wilderness protection and recreation.
    The document was agreed upon following mostly supportive comments during a well-attended public meeting at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey. Commissioners Larry Schoen and Angenie McCleary said they had received emailed comments covering a wide spectrum of opinion.
    Working from a draft document posted on the county website (Click on “Blaine County’s Hot Topics”), the commissioners debated changes provided by Schoen and McCleary.
    The four-page document asks the president of the United States to create a national monument whose management policies are built around those of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the proposed Central Idaho Economic and Recreation Development Act, which sought federal wilderness designation for the mountains. The national monument idea evolved as a reaction to CIEDRA’s stalled status in Congress.
    The commissioners agreed to leave in a statement that the monument would be intended to protect “above all, its wilderness qualities” despite having received numerous public comments advocating that the word “wilderness” be deleted.
    “I’m comfortable with how ‘wilderness’ is used throughout the document,” McCleary said, but added that the area’s importance for recreation should also be emphasized.
    That sentiment was reflected in an addition to one of the document’s recitals stating that recreation is a valued local asset.

I’m comfortable with how ‘wilderness’ is used throughout the document.”
Angenie McCleary

    Both Idaho Conservation League representative Dani Mazzotta and Wood River Bike Coalition Executive Director Brett Stevenson said they thought the document stated a good balance between environmental protection and recreation.
    A paragraph proposed by McCleary stating that all federal lands within the monument should be withdrawn from mining was rejected on the grounds that such language has been included in all national monument proclamations.
    The resolution contains a sentence asking that the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture initiate an “open” and “inclusive” process for developing a management plan for the monument.
    Schoen has said that he will deliver the resolution to the White House when he is in Washington, D.C., early next week to attend a National Association of Counties conference.
    The commissioners in both Custer County, to the north of Blaine County, where almost all of the national monument would be located, and Lemhi County have passed resolutions opposing it.
Greg Moore:

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