Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Insist on the best for the Boulder-White Clouds

    Your interview with Cecil Andrus (“Monument Proponents Make Their Case,” Aug. 15) says “creation of a national monument through presidential proclamation is being viewed as the next best alternative” to congressional action to protect the Boulder-White-Clouds.
    Well, to quote Mr. Andrus’ former boss Jimmy Carter, “Why not the best?” Fact is, there is no pressing need or threat to this area that requires us to accept the “second-best” approach of presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act.  Instead, there are plenty of reasons to insist on “the best”—meaning Congressional action—and hold our delegation’s feet to the fire to deliver it.
    Congressional action would deal decisively with any overlap with the Sawtooth National Recreational Area, instead of opening gaping questions of legal authority and legislative purpose.
    Congressional action could make the long-awaited final decision on proposed wilderness areas, and do it in a way that would make wilderness “real” wilderness, not faux or back-door wilderness, which is all a proclamation could do.
    Congressional action could simultaneously deliver some needed economic stimulus for Custer and Blaine counties, and help them synergize their resources and energies.  Custer in particular has a third-world infrastructure that is in no way prepared to support or benefit from a significant influx of visitors to a new monument.  But Blaine also has an economy that is too reliant on the fickleness of “trickle-down” wealth.
    Most of all, congressional action would enable up-front discussion and real democratic accommodation, instead of signing on the dotted line of non-negotiated boundaries, only to learn later what we bought.
    The complexion of Congress is about to change. Let’s not rush for “second-place.” Let’s insist on the best for the Boulder-White Clouds and for our two counties.
Campbell Gardett


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