The Rexburg Standard Journal began a three-part series on the advisory vote on the Idaho Yellowstone Caldera National Monument Fremont County is holding in November.
Reporter Heather Randall begins by explaining the power the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the President. It’s the power that Teddy Roosevelt used to protect the Grand Canyon and 18 other areas and has been used by every president since except President Ronald Reagan.
Then Randall tells how Fremont County went for an advisory vote after co-sponsoring a futures study of Island Park that was aimed at giving the county information it needed to protect its interests in the event the caldera was on the verge of a presidential proclamation. As you might remember former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne studied the area and his department prepared a draft proclamation in 2008 for protecting the area with a local advisory council.
The county pulled out after a Tea Party candidate pushed the Fremont Madison Irrigation District to get the Henry’s Fork Watershed Council it helped found to pull out. The County Commission already has gone on record against it but Island Park residents wanted voters to send their own message.
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The opponents are ginning up all kinds of fears that are have no basis in any of the discussion of national monument, especially those started by the Idaho Statesman when it requested readers to give their ideas for a national monument. Mesa Falls was proposed by Boise woman Kathy Steinbach, who specifically urged that snowmobiling be protected as a use in the area.
Her recommendation, picked up by the Idaho Statesman, convinced Kempthorne to have his Bureau of Land Management Director Jim Caswell, former Targhee National Forest supervisor, study the area. Kempthorne said he didn't make the recommendation to President Bush because he didn't have time to get locals involved in the process.
The draft proclamation protected existing recreation and established an advisory committee to guide the area's management.
In her second article, Randall quotes Steve Pintler, the St. Anthony contractor who ran an unsuccessful campaign for county commission and led the effort to kill the futures study.
“Any possibility of minor increases in revenue because of a monument does not justify the potential of extremely devastating effects on the economy. (i.e. Snowmobiling in Yellowstone, snowmobiling on Mount Jefferson,” he said.