The proposal for a presidential proclamation creating a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument suffers from a fatal flaw: It would accomplish little.
At a Nov. 4 Stanley City Council meeting, monument advocates noted a presidential proclamation would define boundaries and general goals. And what about the actual terms of land protection? It would be the same old story: User groups slugging it out after the proclamation during a years-long process to develop a management plan.
Those who filled the Stanley Community Library’s meeting room grew frustrated at the lack of specific detail for the 571,000-acre proposed monument. What would be managed for “wilderness values?” Where would mountain bikes be allowed? What about dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles?
Representatives from the Wilderness Society, the Idaho Conservation League and Sportsmen for the Boulder White Clouds could not say. They described wish-list items they would fight to include in a management plan. But the takeaway from the Stanley meeting was a presidential proclamation wouldn’t settle anything. Most people who spoke (and many did) supported better land protection, but they wisely weren’t willing to bless a proposal that is impossible to evaluate.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Presidential proclamations have addressed “motorized and mechanized” vehicles and other activities, use of particular roads, and management of specific areas within national monuments. A Boulder-White Clouds proclamation can clearly state the uses and management designations for different areas within a monument.
Politically, it’s certainly more convenient for monument advocates to use feel-good goals to drum-up support. But it’s also lazy, and it poorly serves people who deeply care for the land and who want to meaningfully assess how a national monument would affect their communities.
Monument advocates need to up their game and propose a proclamation that tells people what will happen on the ground.