The following article appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express,
Ketchum, Idaho, May 18, 2005.
Blaine pares down federal land wish list. Wilderness bill to be submitted
in very near future.
By GREG STAHL
Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer
Earlier this week, Blaine County pared down the wish list of federal lands
it hopes to own as a result of new wilderness and economic development
legislation for Central Idaho.
From the list, county commissioners dropped 206 acres in land requests for
Oregon Gulch, Triumph and an area south of Magic Reservoir.
The project is a peripheral part of Rep. Mike Simpson's Central Idaho
Economic Development and Recreation Act, which aims to designate
wilderness in the Boulder and White Cloud mountains, as well as create an
economic swell in rural Custer County. The bill should be submitted to
Congress in the very near future.
Blaine County Commission Chairwoman Sarah Michael dropped the three
properties from Blaine's wish list following three public hearings last
month. The 11 acres at Oregon Gulch were dropped due to concern from
neighbors. The 35 acres at Triumph were dropped because the "land had
little utilitarian value because of wetland and avalanche issues and lack
of access," Michael said.
The 160 acres south of Magic Reservoir were dropped at the request of the
Hailey-based Wood River Land Trust because of its efforts to undertake
habitat restoration for sage grouse on an adjacent property.
"Blaine County is modifying our federal land requests," Michael said. "We
are dropping three land transfer requests and adding another parcel for
What is left are approximately 425 acres at Smiley Creek, Eagle Creek,
Ohio Gulch, Glendale Road and another parcel south of Magic Reservoir. The
properties are slated for various uses ranging from "growth and
infrastructure needs" to land for a new transfer station and recycling
Michael planted the seeds for the possible land grants to Blaine County
and, along with her fellow commissioners, submitted a list of 10 federally
owned land parcels to Simpson's office last summer.
As part of Simpson's wilderness bill, a half-dozen properties are
earmarked for transfers to Custer County and several of its inherent
communities. Many residents there have long lamented the large amount of
public land ownership within the county's borders.
But Michael said Blaine County should get a piece of the pie, too.
"I feel that Blaine County does have land needs," Michael said. "When
Custer County was getting a share of the bill, I thought it would be
useful for us to identify some of our specific needs we knew were out
Simpson's chief of staff, Lindsay Slater, said it was very important for
the county commissioners to host public meetings about the county's wish
"We want to make sure that those who live adjacent to or nearby the
proposed properties have the opportunities to comment to the commissioners
or the congressman," he said. "From the beginning of this process, it's
been incumbent on Sarah Michael to ensure that there is no legitimate
controversy over these proposed lands.
"At this point, it appears she has been very responsive to public
Slater said that when the CIEDRA bill is submitted to Congress, a map
outlining land gifts will be referenced. In the next few months, that map
will actually be created and added to the proposed legislation.