A transfer of four acres of land in Stanley from the federal government to the city for workforce housing has been added to Rep. Mike Simpson’s latest version of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act.
The bill, which has not yet been reintroduced, would protect wilderness in the Boulder, White Clouds and Jerry Peak areas. Simpson is offering it as an alternative to the national monument proposal from former Gov. Cecil Andrus and a coalition of environmental, sportsmen and business groups.
The four acres lie just west of the Stanley Museum operated by the Sawtooth Interpretive Association, tucked up against a hill. It is outside of the Valley Creek floodplain and wetlands, said Steve Botti, acting mayor and a city councilman who has worked with Simpson’s office.
Stanley has long sought affordable housing for the young, mostly seasonal workforce that supports the retail, lodging, outfitting businesses and restaurants in the area. Many workers actually camp out all summer in the national forest surrounding the town inside the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
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Simpson had a housing land transfer in an earlier version of his bill but was forced to take it out. The language added to the bill would require the Forest Service remove a barn on the property and would specifically allow the city to have up to 20 worker housing units. But it will be done to fit into the character of the area, which has strict federal building codes outside the city.
“We would apply our city codes which are close to SNRA standards,” Botti said. Simpson’s staff added the language after the Sawtooth Society, the Wilderness Society, the Idaho Conservation League, Custer County and Botti agreed the housing is needed.
Botti said the Stanley City Council will take up Simpson’s bill Thursday to decide whether to support it.
Simpson also announced several boundary adjustments Monday. One would swap 19,847 wilderness acres out of the North Fork of the Big Lost area in exchange for 17,062 new wilderness acres in the North Fork of the Big Wood area. This would leave open to snowmobilers a popular area.
The second is the removal of 19,299 acres that are currently open to heli-ski operations under a special use permit from the Forest Service operated by Sun Valley Heli-Ski. A commitment was made in 2005 to Sun Valley Heli-Ski that their operations would not be affected by the proposed wilderness boundary.
So the new proposal would reduce the size of the Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness area by by 22,195 acres making its total, 63,564 acres.
Simpson asked people to comment on his proposed changes on the website.