Letters From the West

Lemhi County says Boulder-White Clouds monument should not hurt Idaho roadless rule

Castle Peak in the White Cloud Mountains (Courtesy the Idaho Conservation League)

Castle Peak in the White Cloud Mountains (Courtesy the Idaho Conservation League)

Lemhi County added its voice to the debate over a national monument Monday, passing a resolution against President Obama taking action on the Boulder-White Clouds without collaboration.

The commission approved the resolution saying any action should have local collaborative support and not overturn the Idaho Roadless Rule.

“Lemhi County strongly urges the President to refrain from using his powers under the Antiquities Act to establish a National Monument in the Boulder-White Clouds, or anywhere else that would overturn the provisions of the Idaho Roadless Rule,” the commissioners said in their resolution.

Commissioner Robert Cope was a major player in the talks that led to the Idaho Roadless Rule, written as an alternative to the Clinton roadless rule that offered more flexibility but still protected nearly 9 million acres of roadless national forest. He also has worked with the Salmon Valley Stewardship group that has brought together people from all sides of the forest and ranching debate to seek common ground.

Obama can establish a monument without Congress simply by signing a proclamation under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

“Any and all efforts to reach decisions regarding lands of Idaho administered by federal agencies (should) be made by local collaboration, rather than by unilateral administrative processes that exclude the residents of Idaho’s counties,” the resolution said.

The interesting point is that the Boulder-White Clouds are not in Lemhi County. The 760,000-acres roadless area lies in Custer and Blaine counties.

Blaine County commissioners in January said they would soon pass a resolution calling for Obama to establish a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. Custer County commissioners are drafting their own resolution on the national monument, said chairman Wayne Butts of Challis.

Custer will follow the Lemhi wording on the Idaho Roadless Rule. And it will note that a chunk of the proposed monument is already protected in the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area – so why do more, Butts asked.

Custer also wants to speak out on the process, calling for transparency, Butts said. That’s why the commissioners are waiting until after a meeting Tuesday evening sponsored by the city of Challis that allows the Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League to make their case.

The meeting is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at the Challis Community Center. A second meeting is scheduled later this month in Mackay.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

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Posted in Letters from the West