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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of July 31 - August 6, 2002


Sunflowers and Knapweed

Human events and ideas are like plants.

Some, like late summer sunflowers, are bold beautiful blossoms welcome anywhere they may grow. Others are like tangled knapweed, a scratchy insistent plant that invites a dose of Roundup.

With that, we offer up Sunflower and Knapweed awards to the best and worst ideas of the month.

Sunflowers: For Sun Valley Resort, which announced last week it has finally applied to the U.S. Forest Service for permission to build a snowboard halfpipe on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain. The idea has been a long time coming, but it’s great to see the company take this critical step in the highly competitive winter market. Snowboarding is an important winter sport and a halfpipe is essential for the future if Sun Valley isn’t to be regarded as "your daddy’s Oldsmobile" by younger boarders and their families.

Knapweed: To the Idaho Department of Transportation for deciding to do paving projects on State Highway 75 at Timmerman Hill, and through Bellevue and Hailey Main streets in the peak of the summer. Hello?

Idaho’s tax revenue is evaporating like dew in a drought. Yet, the highway department is discouraging summer travel to the state’s top tourist destination. Travel will be slow and frustrating during the biggest month of tax generation in the resort area. The road work will punch a hole in Main Street business in two towns that can ill afford the loss. There are other months warm enough to do this work—July and August are the wrong ones.

Knapweed: To the city of Ketchum for ignoring its own call to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown and to organize parking. It has no plans and no budget for either goal. In particular, it has no plan to fix Fifth Street, a major east-west street that carries traffic to the new post office. The street is narrow and steep. Cars must bobsled down a hill in the winter to get to the west side of town. Close calls and fender benders are the rule at blind intersections. Pedestrians take their lives in their hands crossing Fifth or trying to navigate areas without sidewalks.

Sunflowers: To the citizens group trying to save Ketchum’s 120-year-old Congregational Church that came up with the idea to move the church to Forest Service Park. The old church would work well as a centerpiece on the site, blend well with the existing buildings and work well for small community gatherings.

Knapweed and Sunflowers: A mixed bouquet to the Blaine County Commissioners for failing to consult with Bellevue and Hailey before redrawing a map for receiving zones for transfers of density. The new map calls for receiving areas in Croy and Quigley canyons, in a hotly disputed area between Bellevue and Hailey, and on property south of Bellevue. The cities will bear the brunt of any density increases on their perimeters and must be part of any plan. Yet, the county deserves sunflowers for actively pursuing density transfers to protect south-county agricultural lands from development.

Knapweed: To Idaho Congressman Butch Otter for his bill to remove all potential wilderness lands from consideration after a 10-year period. More knapweed to Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson for co-sponsoring the bill. Otter called wilderness advocates "obstructionists" who have already gotten everything they want. Guess it’s been a while since Otter visited Blaine County, where wilderness advocates have spent 30 years waiting in vain for the Idaho delegation to pop for a bill to protect the Boulder, White Cloud and Pioneer mountains. They clearly deserve wilderness designation. If opponents can stall wilderness designations for at least 10 years, they win under Otter’s bill. An area will be removed from consideration, period. No one would even have to vote on the matter—nice for politicians, bad for the public. Opening roadless areas to development ought to be at least as hard as creating wilderness, not easier.

Knapweed: To the Bush Administration’s Energy Department for its plan to reclassify 10,000 gallons of highly radioactive sludge at the Idaho National Engineering and Environment Laboratory, all to avoid having to move it out of Idaho. The sludge would be capped with cement and left in barrels atop the Snake River Aquifer. More knapweed to Energy for plans to exclude buried material from its 1995 agreement with the state to remove all plutonium-contaminated material by 2019.

Sunflowers: To the Snake River Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation, who sued the Department of Energy to try to stop the sleight-of-hand that would make radioactive and toxic waste disappear with the flourish of a pen. More sunflowers to the state of Idaho for suing to force Energy to stick to its own deal.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.