Ketchum City Council backs national monument idea

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KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - The Ketchum City Council in central Idaho has approved a resolution supporting a proposal to have President Barack Obama designate a national monument in mountainous central Idaho.

The council voted 3-0 earlier this week to back a plan to create a national monument in the Boulder and White Cloud mountains, the Idaho Mountain Express reported (http://bit.ly/1jEiilh). One member abstained from the vote.

“The reason we are doing this is because our representatives in Washington are doing nothing about wilderness protection,” Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas said.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho has attempted to pass the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which would have created three wilderness areas in the Boulder and White Cloud mountains totaling 332,775 acres, while also releasing 130,000 acres from wilderness study area to multiple use. But those efforts have so far failed, leading conservation groups to lobby the Obama administration to establish a national monument.

The Idaho Conservation League, Wilderness Society and others want Obama to create a 591,905-acre national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds using the Antiquities Act. The proposed national monument is in Blaine and Custer counties, and much of it is scenic, remote and rugged.

A group in Custer County recently formed to oppose the designation, citing diminished economic possibilities and restrictions on access. Custer County commissioners also opposed a monument designation.

But commissioners in Blaine County, where Ketchum is located, back the monument idea.

Dani Mazzotta of the Idaho Conservation League said the area needs national monument designation because of potential mining, oil exploration and geothermal tapping.

On Wednesday, Obama declared almost a half-million acres of rugged desert terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border as a national monument, marking the largest swath of land to be set aside for that purpose since he took office.

Obama vowed during the signing ceremony for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to make more proclamations using his executive power under the Antiquities Act to protect federal lands.

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Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, http://www.mtexpress.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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