Letters From the West

Stanley residents raise questions about national monument

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

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

Stanley and central Idaho residents are fearful that a proposed Boulder-White Clouds National Monument could make their life harder, not better.

“The people that are here are going to have to live with the consequences of the national monument 12 months of the year,” said writer and author John Rember, who grew up on the Sawtooth Valley and still lives there. “The people who are pushing it have to live with the consequences only two months out of of the year.”

They asked tough questions of proponents at a meeting in Stanley Monday. How will the monument affect the existing Sawtooth National Recreation Area? Will it attract more people and increase search, rescue and medical services costs?

The local business community barely is able to provide minimal services now, some residents said. How will they be able to accommodate more people?

The Sawtooth Society hosted a meeting Thursday in Stanley where more issues were raised.

So far the Obama Administration has only said that it will evaluate the area for a national monument. Proponents, including the Idaho Conservation League, the Wilderness Society, sportsmen and outdoor business groups are just gearing up their campaign for a monument.

Rob Mason of the Wilderness Society, who made a presentation at the meeting of the Stanley City Council Monday laid out for the first time a big-picture outline of what proponents hope to do with a national monument designation. Here’s a copy of his handout:

PROPOSED BOULDER-WHITE CLOUDS NATIONAL MONUMENT

OBJECTS and FEATURES OF NATIONAL INTEREST

 

SUMMARY

 

INVENTORIED ROADLESS AREAS AND WILDERNESS STUDY AREAS

·         To protect the wilderness character of the Boulder-White Clouds and Jerry Peak area that makes this place on of Idaho’s iconic natural gems

·         Three separate multi-stakeholder public processes over the past 26 years have called for wilderness protection for the BWC, but all have failed to achieve the goal of permanent wilderness protection.

·         The SNRA has done incredible things for the protection of the Sawtooth Valley and surrounding mountains, but one thing it has failed to do is provide permanent protection for the wild BWC.

·         A national monument will finally confer permanent protection of the wilderness character for this legendary Idaho landscape.

ANADRAMOUS AND RESIDENT FISH HABITAT

·         To provide for protection of the East Fork Salmon River salmon and steelhead habitat, the highest altitude spawning grounds for Chinook and steelhead in the lower 48 states.

·         To better protect habitat for Bull trout, Wood River sculpin and other trout species.

WILDLIFE

·         To provide for protection of world-class big game hunting opportunities by protecting large multi-elevation winter range & summer range habitat for elk, deer, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

·         To protect high-quality mountain biking opportunities in the BWC.

WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS

·         To better protect the headwaters of the Big Wood, E. Fork Salmon, Main Salmon and N. Fork Lost Rivers.

MULTI-SEASON RECREATION

·         To highlight and protect the outstanding multi-season recreation opportunities in the monument boundaries.

RAILROAD RIDGE

·         To protect endemic populations of White Cloud milkvetch (found nowhere else in the world), northern sagewort and white bark pine.

CASTLE PEAK

·         Castle Peak is a symbol of conservation history to Idaho and the country.

HOT SPRINGS

·         To protect geothermal features in the monument boundaries.

HISTORIC MINING SETTLEMENTS

·         To protect this important part of the BWC and Idaho history at Livingston Mill, Boulder City and other locations.

 

I am working on a column on the issue so stay tuned.

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.

Posted in Letters from the West