Rocky Barker: Bieter, too, asks for Idaho meeting on national monument

rbarker@idahostatesman.comJune 23, 2014 

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Sagebrush and hills rise from the Road Creek Road along the foothills of the Boulder-White Clouds and Jerry Peak area, all of which is in the proposed monument.


  • Monument forum is Monday, June 23

    You can learn more about the monument issue at a lunch meeting of the Idaho Environmental Forum at the Crystal Ballroom at the Hoff Building beginning at 11:30 a.m.

    Speakers include proponent Brad Brooks, deputy regional director of The Wilderness Society; opponent Wayne Butts, chairman of the Custer County Commission; Gary O'Malley, executive director of the Sawtooth Society, which has raised questions about the proposal; and supporter Larry Schoen, chairman of the Blaine County Commission, which has written the administration in support of the monument.

    Registration is closed, but walk-in tickets are available at the door.

Dave Bieter has built a solid record of support for environmental issues during his three terms as Boise mayor.

The Democrat does not have to worry about voters who think we should turn public land over to the state. He doesn't have a constituency that thinks we should order the Environmental Protection Agency to disappear.

When he decided to become the first mayor in Idaho to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2006, he didn't have key supporters calling climate change a hoax designed to force world government domination. That's why he has taken the lead to promote solar power and green business development and in 2007 took a strong stand against the Atlanta Gold Mine 100 miles up the Boise River from the city.

So it comes as no surprise that he wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in March supporting a proposed Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. Two top Democrats and supporters of Bieter - former Gov. Cecil Andrus and the late Bethine Church - are among the strongest backers of monument status for 571,276 acres in Central Idaho.

And a new generation of young Boise residents — not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans — are greener than their baby boomer elders. In a lot of ways, the center of conservation in Idaho has moved west from Ketchum and Sun Valley to Boise.

"Whether it's hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or mountain biking, the Boulder-White Clouds are important for our quality of life and our businesses," Bieter wrote in March.

What is disappointing is that many in Idaho don't really care what Boise residents think when it comes to our public lands. The city remains the economic engine for the state and the future of communities such as Stanley are tied to Boise's prosperity and interests.

Earlier this month, Bieter took a further step to promote the national monument by inviting Vilsack and Jewell to come to Boise to listen to what people here have to say. He told them they would hear from a wide spectrum of views and that he would help them with logistics.

His offer rounds out the list of local governments who want this administration to come talk to them before a monument decision is made. Stanley's City Council asked the Obama administration to send someone out to talk first.

Recently Blaine and Custer counties, which are on opposite sides of the issue, wrote the secretaries and told them to come out to talk to them.

But the Obama administration has not made any decisions yet, said Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

"No kind of commitments yet," Bonnie told Greenwire's Phil Taylor this month.

You can hear the impatience in Bieter's words.

"The Boulder-White Clouds are one of the nation's crown jewels," he wrote. "We cannot afford to let this remarkable landscape languish in uncertainty."

Rocky Barker: 377-6484

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