Editorial: We need Craters of the Moon National Park

There is good news and bad news regarding our hope to see the original boundaries of Craters of the Moon National Monument get redesignated as a national park.

Dispensing with the bad news first, we regret that the Idaho House of Representatives was unable to follow the lead of the Senate and pass a resolution supporting the national park effort. House sponsor Rep. Merrill Beyeler, a Republican rancher who represents Butte County where the monument is located, said there were too many questions and there was too little time left in the session to get it done this year.

The good news is that the Senate resolution that allowed the measure to get momentum in the Legislature is based on one passed by the Butte County Commission. So the idea has local buy-in and is gaining bipartisan support from key members of the Legislature, such as Republicans Rep. Brent Crane, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel.

Besides a sliver of Yellowstone National Park along the Wyoming state line, Idaho does not have its own national park. This could easily and inexpensively (for as little as $10,000 to change some signs) be rectified by turning the 54,000 acres of the national monument’s original area — created in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge — into a national park with no changes to management. The other 410,000 acres would stay a preserve managed by the National Park Service, and another 273,000 acres would still be the monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

So, once again we implore the Idaho congressional delegation to get behind the idea. As we have said before, recasting these parcels could be done faster than naming a post office.

Try that out for a minute. ... Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Park. Just think how it would look when national park aficionados plan summer adventures and they come across this new Idaho park in 2016 — the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Let’s finish the job Coolidge began so we can start the next 100 years with an Idaho national park.

Statesman Editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idahostatesman.com.