Letters from the West

Obama official says still no commitments on Boulder-White Clouds

The Obama administration has been hearing from people on both sides of the debate over the Boulder White Clouds National Monument a top official told Greenwire.

But it has not made any decisions yet, said U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie Tuesday during a break on the Western Governor’s Association meeting in Denver.

“No kind of commitments yet," Bonnie told Greenwire’s Phil Taylor.

Idaho conservationists, recreationists, and sportsmen are urging President Obama to issue a proclamation establishing the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains National Monument covering more than one-half-million acres between Sun Valley and Challis. After a decade of congressional inaction on Republican Rep. Mike Simpson's wilderness bill for the area, a large coalition of pro-monument forces are focusing on the power the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives Obama to name new national monuments without the need for congressional approval.

Not surprisingly, the monument campaign has given rise to a vigorous opposition that worries that a monument could bring burdensome new regulations, and also questions whether monument designation is needed given that some of the area is already part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

You can learn more about this long-standing wilderness fight that began in the 1960s, was left unresolved by the establishment of the SNRA and continues today at a lunch meeting of the Idaho Environmental Forum Monday, June 23 at the Crystal Ballroom at the Hoff Building beginning at 11:30 a.m.

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