Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Concerns remain about national monument

    A recent Idaho Statesman article regarding a proposed national monument for the Boulder-White Clouds stated, “So far only the Sawtooth Society has formally come out questioning the effort, expressing worries about ‘unintended consequences.’”
    It’s true the Society has expressed concerns that a national monument declaration could have adverse unintended consequences for the area in question, if not done carefully and openly with proper consideration for all stakeholder views. However, we are hardly the only ones to raise such concerns. As anyone attending recent meetings proponents of a national monument have held in the Sawtooth Valley knows, numerous businesses, groups and individuals who live and work in the area have expressed similar concerns. Among these are the city of Stanley, the Stanley Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce, the Idaho Guides & Outfitters Association, the Custer County commissioners, Custer County Search & Rescue and the overwhelming majority of local businesses. And privately, a number of officials from other area organizations have voiced concerns. These are the people who live and work in the area that would be most affected—they do not simply visit here to hike, ride, hunt and fish and then go home elsewhere. They would have to bear any unintended consequences, like the challenges and costs of more search and rescue, inadequate camping and recreation facilities, and more wear on the local environment and infrastructure, that increased visitation from a national monument declaration could well bring.
    Like the Sawtooth Society, most of these people support effective protection for the Boulder-White Clouds; but they are properly concerned about whether the current process for developing a national monument declaration is the best approach. Experience with other hasty governmental decisions, done without appropriate forethought and broad input to address possible consequences, provide an important lesson. It took many years to develop the legislation that created the Sawtooth NRA and, while no one is advocating that time frame, surely all involved here should spend the time and effort to develop a consensus that achieves the protection goals most want while minimizing the chances for adverse impact.
Paul Hill
President, Sawtooth Society


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