Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who do you trust on the White Clouds?

    Those who would worship at the altar of the SNRA would do well to read the enabling legislation, Public Law 92-400. The very first sentence states to “temporarily withdraw certain national forest land from the operation of U.S. mining law.” Section 2.3 describes the “management, utilization and disposal of mineral resources,” and Section 7 describes the right of Idaho to tax the “mineral interests.” Does this sound like no mining? Why do you think certain commercial interests in Challis dislike the monument? It’s the mining, people.
    If you have ever had to bail off the trail as six unmuffled dirt bikes roar past in a designated wilderness study area, did you feel protected?
    The fact is that the SNRA is self-defined as a temporary designation of public land that is supposed to be a holding pen until Congress decides if it is suitable for a national park (never happened) or a wilderness area (recommended and designated as qualified but never acted on). Of the 250 valid mining claims in the monument area, 170 of them are controlled only by the federal Mining Law of 1872, written by and for a guy with a mule, a pick axe and a pan, not a D-8 and 40-ton hauler.
    Instead of defending a quaint, semi-dysfunctional temporary designation on less than one-half the unroaded area, why not consider and embrace a permanent protection for the largest unroaded expanse in the country on an ecosystem-wide scope—that you already love? Be part of the solution and engage in the management process that is already committed to using the SNRA regulations as minimum standards.
    Bethine Church (before her passing last year) and Cecil Andrus have both advocated for the monument. Whose judgment do you trust?
Alan Reynolds


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