Craters

Visitors to Craters of the Moon National Monument can see cinder cones and lava flows that occurred between 15,000 and 2,100 years ago.

The Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution asking Congress to designate Craters of the Moon a national park.

A long-simmering idea to turn the national monument east of Carey into Idaho’s first national park was re-energized late last year by monument Superintendent Dan Buckley, Butte County commissioners and business owners in Arco and Mackay. Their effort and the resolutions passed by five nearby counties call for changing the status of only the original 54,000 acres, designated in 1924 and managed by the National Park Service. The protected area was expanded in 2000 to include the 465,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Preserve, which is also managed by the Park Service and permits hunting, and a 285,000-acre, BLM-managed portion where hunting and grazing are allowed.

Butte County Commissioner Rose Bernal said staff members of Idaho’s congressional delegation told national park proponents that local support for the idea will have to be made clear before Congress will act on it. Though the counties have worked toward that end, a memorial in the Legislature calling for the change died in the House Ways and Means Committee after being passed by the Senate.

The Idaho Statesman reported in April that Rep. Merrill Beyeler, the memorial’s sponsor, said several groups, including the Idaho Farm Bureau, still had questions that could not be resolved before the end of the 2015 session.

In a guest opinion in the April 15 issue of the Idaho Mountain Express, Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestly said the organization is concerned that redesignation could include management changes affecting grazing and other activities.

Bernal said that’s not the intent of the proposed change, and the Legislature and congressional delegation should pay more attention to the local support that’s been demonstrated.

“The Farm Bureau has so much power in this state that we as citizens don’t have a voice,” she said.

Bernal said proponents will continue to seek the support of Idaho’s U.S. senators and two House members.

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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