Reader's View: New Boulder-White Clouds monument would serve special interests, isolate county

December 17, 2013 

The modest economic boost proponents of the Boulder-White Clouds national monument predict is paltry comfort to those in Custer County who have seen devastation wrought by the billionaire preservationist elite.

The hypocrisy of this preservation movement has been wrapped around the fact that the Boulder-White Clouds hold vast wealth in metal resources that could bring prosperity to our state and nation.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by preservationists who continue to stack their high-tech alloy Learjets in Sun Valley like you or I stack cordwood.

The whole notion that we should lock up Central Idaho is not new. It began with a large, high-grade discovery of molybdenum in the White Clouds back in the 1970s. The ASARCO geologists whom I knew intersected molybdenum 10 times greater in grade than what is currently mined and milled at Thompson Creek. This discovery led to a whirlwind effort to lock out mining by ushering in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The economic benefit to this new national recreation area was touted while the lay-to-waste practice of mining vilified. Today, Stanley is a good example of what economic isolation under cover of environmental stewardship has brought. Only rich landowners with their cadre of imported handmaids enjoy the scenic vistas from their select high-dollar perches. The once bustling town of recreational, mining and ranching interests is solely kept afloat by craft fairs and Hacky Sack tournaments today. Even the once nationally touted Stanley Stomp is but a memory of better days gone by.

More devastating than the SNRA will be a national monument, a monument dedicated to the selfish interest of those born with silver spoons. The national monument debate comes as its pending resource lockout will put Custer County on a continued course toward steadily harder economic times.

The county's largest employer and taxpayer, Thompson Creek Mining, is threatening to close its pit — a mining company detested by environmental groups but one that has continued to be our best hope for stable, high-paying jobs and that has added quality of life to many. With the prospect of our historic mining boom days over, Custer County's economic future looks gloomy.

It is more than economic prosperity at stake, though. As hypocrisy reigns supreme in the halls of the politically connected, every ounce of precious metal, every pound of rare and strategic metal locked away by this monument will be mined in some foreign land where little regard for the environment is considered. The withdrawal of these metallic resources, ranging from antimony to zinc, in one of our nation's richest mineral reserves means further exploitation of the Third World and Custer County's further isolation from economic sustainability.

Let there be no doubt, executive jets will still fly and land in our midst, leaving many Idahoans owing their economic existence to polishing boots of the well-to-do, preparing their meals and putting down their beds.

Little is likely to come from cries for multiple use or the calls for the feds to leave Idaho completely. The federally occupied territories of Idaho will continue to evolve away from anything Idaho and more toward special interests of those with power and money. Such is the trend in a world where the grit and determination of the individual is lost.

A simple stroke of the president's pen will put us all away, forgotten and soon erased from the historical landscape. No longer will the rights of the minority be protected from the misdirected ambitions of the majority in Idaho, where our fathers once lived free.

Darr Moon is a professional civil engineer and land surveyor and holds a degree in geological engineering from the University of Idaho. He is the principle engineer at Moon & Associates Inc. in Rupert.

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