Sawtooth Air strip (copy)

The airstrip would be located about 15 miles south of Stanley, across from Fourth of July and Champion creeks. The applicant’s property is outlined in yellow.

After four hours of public testimony and 10 minutes of deliberations, the Custer County commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday to deny an appeal of a conditional use permit that allows Michael and Amanda Boren to designate a pasture as a private airstrip on their Hell Roaring Ranch 15 miles south of Stanley.

“This process has reaffirmed our faith in the good judgment of the people of Custer County and the belief in private property rights and our Idaho way of life,” said Todd Cranney, a spokesman for the Borens.

The Custer County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Boren’s CUP on May 20, which quickly led to an organized effort and legal challenge by nearby landowners to repeal it.

The primary opposition group, the Advocates for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, was joined by the Blaine County Commissioners and on Wednesday by representatives of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and other citizens in Challis in a call to repeal the CUP. It was to no avail.

“This was very disappointing,” said Advocates for the SNRA attorney Michael Pogue, whose appeal focused on alleged violations of a scenic easement appurtenant to the 480-acre ranch, which protects its “scenic, natural, historic, pastoral, and fish and wildlife values.”

The Borens and their supporters have claimed that the airstrip is needed for ranching, and that the permit would allow it to be used for emergency purposes. They also focused on the need to support the Boren’s private property rights.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Custer County Commissioners to listen again to any concerns and review all of the facts,” Cranney said. “We are grateful for the support we have received from many of our Custer County neighbors and from across the state.”

Pogue said an option exists that would allow the Advocates for the SNRA to request for reconsideration by the county commissioners.

“We are considering all options,” Pogue said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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