This might be the summer you visit Central Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds area or spend time admiring the Sawtooths from some vantage point within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The next time you are in the vicinity, here is something to think about: a possible federal status change executed by President Barack Obama, his pen and the Antiquities Act - resulting in parts of this iconic Idaho landscape being proclaimed, perhaps, the Boulder-White Clouds National Monument.
Sure, this is far from being a done deal, but sources tell us it could happen at any time later this year, or over the next 18 months. Whatever else is on your federal lands/national resource radar, we recommend you add this to your homework. We plan to.
We can't take a position on an undrafted idea, but we do, and will, demand transparency and responsibility to all stakeholders. We welcome the prospect of an economic driver that could result from increased exposure while we fear any loss of access or harm to this Idaho jewel. We will continue to ask: "What is broken? What needs fixing?" and, to some degree, What Would Teddy Roosevelt Do?
Roosevelt was the first to proclaim a monument, in 1906, the Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Today there are 108 - the last nine proclaimed by Obama, five just since March.
In the past we have supported legislation to bring long-term protection - and varying degrees of public access that evolved during negotiations - to federal lands within Idaho. We support the decadelong campaign of U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, known as CIEDRA: the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act that Simpson defines as "an integrated economic development and recreation plan that addresses the needs of the people who live and recreate in central Idaho. It strengthens the local economy, preserves outstanding recreational opportunities and creates three new wilderness areas while releasing a significant amount of wilderness study area back to multiple-use and recreation."
Though we haven't heard Simpson capitulate or withdraw his legislation, a number of stakeholders believe it is dead because of congressional gridlock, and they now are hitching their wagons to the idea of an Obama national monument. Among the proponents are Cecil Andrus, former governor and Interior secretary, and the Idaho Conservation League. But just as there are proponents for a monument plan, there is concern.
Members of the Sawtooth Society, which focuses on the adjacent Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which could be affected, visited our editorial board this week to say the idea deserves equal parts of consideration, scrutiny and a double-helping of transparency. Said Simpson in a statement Thursday: "I'm aware there is an effort to persuade the Obama administration to proclaim the Boulder-White Clouds a national monument. In the past, presidents have taken it upon themselves to unilaterally lock up hundreds of thousands of acres with a single signature under the Antiquities Act, and I strongly believe using this authority to designate this area of Central Idaho a national monument would be wrong for the Boulder-White Clouds."
Simpson's feelings, and 10-year frame of reference, should be taken into account in this process. Though the congressman hasn't found the votes necessary to move his initiative, it appears he did find a sweet spot of Idaho consensus along the way. It would be a mistake for the president to ignore the leading congressional advocate for the Boulder-White Clouds - just because he can.
"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email email@example.com.