Friday, April 25, 2014

Proposed monument gets a bit larger

Conservationists want to include petrified-wood area

Express Staff Writer

This map shows which trails of the central White Cloud Mountains are proposed as hiking-only routes and which would allow mechanized uses, such as mountain bikes. The trails are marked in the colors designated in the boxes above.
Express map by Tony Barriatua

Two environmental organizations advocating for the designation of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument have increased the proposed monument’s size by about 20,000 acres to include an area of BLM land south of Challis that contains 50-million-year-old petrified sequoia tree trunks.
    Previously at 571,276 acres, the proposal is now for a 591,905-acre monument. The enlargement is at the area’s northeastern end.
    The new map also depicts boundary reductions along the Main Salmon River meant to avoid private land inholdings and a large rock quarry. Other sections of the proposed monument would still contain some inholdings.
    A news release from the Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League states that the reductions were the result of information obtained during public meetings in Stanley, Mackay, Challis and Hailey, as well as meetings with local stakeholders, elected officials and individuals.
    The coalition said they are also working on a more robust list of specific policy recommendations and management options based on feedback from those earlier meetings and continuing discussions with stakeholders. 
“We are working to make sure the details of any plan come from the people who live here and understand our state’s needs,” ICL Executive Director Rick Johnson said.
Malm Gulch contains a half-dozen petrified trunks up to about 10 feet tall. The area is accessed via Malm Gulch Road, on the east side of state Highway 75 along the Salmon River about 14 miles north of Clayton, or about one mile past Deadman Hole. The petrified trees can be reached by an approximately 1.5-mile hike from the road. The trailhead is about two miles from state Highway 75.
    The new map also depicts a recent agreement struck between the conservation groups and mountain-biking advocates that seeks to protect wilderness qualities and biking access.
    The agreement includes a list of 22 trails proposed for inclusion in a management zone that would allow mountain bikes. Among those are:

  • The East Fork Salmon River Trail (from monument boundary near Grand Prize Gulch trailhead to East Fork trailhead).
  • Germania Creek Trail (from Pole Creek Road to Germania Creek trailhead).
  • Castle Divide Trail (from Washington Lake Trail to Big Boulder Creek trailhead).
  • Little Boulder Creek Trail (from Big Boulder Creek Trail to Little Boulder Creek trailhead).
  • Warm Springs Creek Trail (from Ants Basin Trail to monument boundary).
  • Ants Basin Trail (from Washington Lake Trail to Warm Springs Creek Trail).

    The agreement did not address motorized use.

Counties to discuss monument
Blaine and Custer County commissioners will hold two joint meetings next month to hear public comment and discuss issues related to possible designation of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. The first meeting will take place Wednesday, May 7, at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge in Sun Valley, beginning at 6 p.m. The second is slated for May 29 in Challis at a venue to be determined. The Blaine County commissioners have passed a resolution in support of national monument designation while Custer County passed a resolution opposing the action.

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