Friday, July 25, 2014

What kind of monument?

    A study by the National Park Service released last week showed that parks and monuments generate business. The study should put to rest the festering allegations that monument designation for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains would have a negative economic effect in Custer County and elsewhere.
    Even the stark expanse of jagged lava rock at the Craters of the Moon National Monument adds $6.6 million annually to the economies of nearby communities, according to the study. Much of the infusion comes from money spent for lodging.
    It’s likely that the study’s conclusions won’t be enough to remove the strangling grip of Idaho’s political leaders’ uncompromising and ultimately self-destructive right-wing ideology on what should be a sensible move to protect the pristine Boulder-White Clouds of central Idaho by creating a national monument.
    The failed leadership of Idaho’s congressional delegation and pigheaded stubbornness of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter have left Congressman Mike Simpson’s carefully negotiated wilderness bill on a shelf where it’s gathered dust for over a decade—even when Republicans controlled the White House.
    Otter built his rightwing street cred by leading Idaho to continually bite the federal hand that feeds it. Not only that, but Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, along with Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador, oppose monument
designation because they can’t stand the idea that President Obama, a Democrat, could create protections by just scratching his name on an executive order.
    One way or another, the Boulder-White Clouds will become a monument. Either they will become a monument to the preservation of wild places, or their degradation eventually will make them a monument to political and economic idiocy.

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