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For the week of June 14 through June 20, 2000

Critical hearings

It’s time to speak up or hush up on the future of vast areas of public lands in Idaho and the nation.

Two key hearings will be held in the week to come.

The first is a hearing on a proposal to expand Craters of the Moon National Monument to include the Great Rift’s 62 miles of volcanic phantasmagoria.

The proposal is part of President Clinton’s push to expand protection at some of the nation’s most spectacular and unusual areas by using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

The hearing will be held this Saturday at the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Auditorium in Twin Falls beginning at 9:30 a.m. The hearing was organized by the office of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who has objected to Clinton’s sweeping proposals to use presidential authority to protect natural areas.

In our view, the president is simply finishing the job started in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge created the national monument.

Clinton’s proposal to halt road-building on 43 million acres of national forest lands—1.2 million acres in the Sawtooth National Forest—will be the subject of the second hearing, on Thursday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Ketchum City Hall.

The proposal has upset many conservatives who dislike the West’s federal landlord and dislike Clinton for exercising presidential power. It also galls some all-or-nothing environmentalists who claim it doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t ban heli-logging.

President Clinton has only until the end of the year to finalize his plans and to get them in place. The hearings are critical. Public reaction will determine whether or not Congress will attempt to override the president. There may never be a better chance to protect what’s left of the nation’s wild and scenic heritage.


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