By ROCKY BARKER
Idaho hunting and fishing groups have joined the chorus calling for protection of the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains as a national monument.
The Ada County Fish and Game League, the Idaho Wildlife Federation, the Idaho Chukar Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation have formed a new group, “Sportsmen for Boulder-White Clouds,” to press the Obama administration. The groups held a news conference Wednesday at the Marriott Suites Hotel in Boise to urge hunters and anglers to sign a petition calling for protection of the two mountain ranges and the adjacent Jerry Peak area.
The 760,000-acre roadless area north of Ketchum has more than 1,000 elk, accounts for 20 percent of the state’s mountain goat tags and could support as many as 1,000 bighorn sheep, said John Caywood, of the Ada County Fish and Game League. The area also is in the headwaters of critical salmon spawning streams, including the East Fork of the Salmon River.
“We want to make sure this world-class habitat is protected,” Caywood said.
The groups are very specific who they want to protect it. They want the Forest Service to continue its management of the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains. And they want the Bureau of Land Management to stay in charge of Jerry Peak. That’s because they want to make sure it remains open to hunting, which would be hard if it were to be turned over to the National Park Service, Caywood said.
The Outdoor Alliance, which represents paddlers, climbers, mountain bikers, hikers and whitewater river runners, already has come out in support of the national monument. The Idaho Conservation League and the Wilderness Society are spearheading the campaign.
So far, only the Sawtooth Society has formally come out questioning the effort, expressing worries about “unintended consequences” that could come from a monument designation.
“We’ve been waiting nearly a decade for Congress to preserve our hunting and fishing opportunities in the Boulder-White Clouds, but after years of broken stalemate politics in Washington, D.C., it’s clear that our ‘do-nothing’ Congress can’t get the job done,” Caywood said.