The Idaho Conservation League is calling President Barack Obama’s designation of a new national monument in New Mexico a sign of a willingness to do the same for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in Idaho.
On Wednesday during a ceremony at the Department of Interior, Obama signed a proclamation designating the nearly 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument just north of the Mexico border.
“The Organ Mountains effort is similar to the Boulder-White Clouds in many ways,” ICL Central Idaho Associate Dani Mazzotta said. “Both places have collaboratively built legislative wilderness bills. Both bills have met Congress’ gridlock. The Organ Mountains deserved to be honored for the spectacular place they are. We hope the Boulder-White Clouds are next.”
Unlike other recent national monument designations, the New Mexico monument is both large—only a little smaller than the proposed 591,000-acre Boulder-White Clouds National Monument—and controversial.
A national monument in central Idaho is supported by the Blaine County commissioners and many Wood River Valley residents, but opposed by the Custer County commissioners and apparently a large majority of residents there. Most of the monument would be in Custer County.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was supported by both of New Mexico’s senators and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, but opposed by local ranchers and by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who had proposed legislation to protect a much smaller area.
“It’s pretty typical of what the president is doing now,” Pearce told the Journal, referring to Obama’s use of executive orders that circumvent the need for congressional approval. “It bypasses the will of the people. It’s not going to be good for the county and it will depress the economy over the long term and make it harder for the rural, New Mexico way of life to continue.”