Wednesday, May 21, 2014

National monument not a good idea anymore

    I have supported the idea of a national monument designation for the Boulder-White Clouds because I felt that it would protect the wilderness values of such a large piece of land, something that people have been trying to protect for over 40 years.
    I expressed my support to the Blaine County commissioners in a letter this past February, and I was pleased to see in their final resolution to the president, supporting a national monument, that they put “protecting in perpetuity … above all, its wilderness qualities.”
    As the issue becomes more confused, with no specific reasons given as to why the part of the monument that overlaps the Sawtooth National Recreation Area needs extra protection, and with agreements between various groups on what trails might be open to mechanized (or mountain bike) travel, wilderness character and ecological values seem to be drifting away. The latest map and the agreement between the ICL and the Wilderness Society do not even address any of the concerns of motorized recreational users—will they be able to continue to use the roads and trails they use now?
    Access for recreational uses and for a widespread economic revitalization of this area seem to be gaining ground over a national monument’s set goals of “preserving and protecting objects of historic and scientific value,” which to my thinking would be the wild, unspoiled nature of the land and the watershed, and the increasingly endangered species of plants and animals that inhabit the higher elevations.
    Maybe we’re better off without a national monument designation at this time, and maybe we can hope for a change in Congress to bring about a future designation for at least part of this area as true wilderness.
Evelyn Phillips


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