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Don’t rush national monument

By EXPRESS STAFF

The nonprofit Sawtooth Society said it could support a national monument designation for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains if the presidential proclamation to make the designation explicitly preserves the existing law to protect and manage the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The group—which works to preserve and protect the vast recreation area north of Ketchum—said the process for considering monument status should take into account the legitimate interests of all SNRA stakeholders, be open and transparent, and done in a way that accomplishes the desired goals lawfully and effectively.

“The idea of creating a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument is completely understandable given Congress’ inability to pass wilderness legislation for the area,” said Sawtooth Society President Paul Hill. “However, the ‘devil is in the details’ and the public is entitled to protective provisions that the establishment of a monument would not create adverse and unintended consequences for the Sawtooth NRA that could result from hasty or ill-conceived action.”

Hill said an example of adverse and unintended consequences would be the overcrowding of the SNRA by a sharp influx of visitors.

“Loving the area to death,” he said, “would put unacceptable pressure on precious natural and recreational resources.”

Hill said groups proposing national monument status for the Boulder-White Clouds have not publicly explained what specifically they want to accomplish, other than to provide some form of long-term protection of the area. Among the unknowns, he said, are the proposed boundaries, restrictions on public use and access, and the impact on the existing SNRA.

“The stakes are too great to make a mistake in considering the question of whether or not to confer monument status on the area. Let’s come together and get it right,” said Sawtooth Society Executive Director Gary O’Malley.