Central Idaho commissioners oppose monument

BOISE, Idaho — Lemhi County commissioners in central Idaho have approved a resolution against a potential presidential proclamation designating a national monument in the region.

The Idaho Statesman reported on Tuesday that the resolution urges President Barack Obama to refrain from using the Antiquities Act to establish a national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has attempted to have approved in Congress the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which would have created three wilderness areas in the Boulder and White Cloud Mountains totaling 332,775 acres, while also releasing 130,000 acres from wilderness study area to multiple use.

But those efforts have so far failed, so conservation groups are lobbying the Obama administration to establish a national monument.

A national monument designation preserves lands by adding protections from development, resource extraction and land swaps. Foes of creating a national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds cite diminished economic possibilities and restrictions on access.

Presidents have the sole authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect land under national monument status. Presidents from both parties have used the law to designate monument status to places such as the Grand Canyon and Idaho’s Craters of the Moon.

“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.

The Idaho roadless rule is Idaho’s plan crafted in 2006 that provides a framework for use and protection for more than 9 million acres of federal public backcountry. The plan was upheld by a federal judge in Boise in January 2012 after a coalition of environmental groups challenged its legality. Then in January 2013, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision supporting Idaho’s plan.

“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,” said the resolution by the commissioners.

The 760,000 roadless acres in the Boulder-White Clouds are not in Lemhi County, but instead are contained in Blaine and Custer counties.

Commissioners in Blaine County, which includes the resort communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley, in January said they’re working on a resolution asking Obama to establish a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument.

Custer County commissioners say they are drafting a resolution that will be similar to that passed by Lemhi County commissioners.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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