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Boulder-White Clouds Council
Post Office Box 6313
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
www.wildwhiteclouds.org

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Current News & Issues: Wilderness
 

 

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The following is Boulder-White Clouds Council's view of Rep. Simpson's Framework.

Boulder-White Clouds Council Comments
Rep. Mike Simpsonís Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Proposal (CIEDRP)

"I want to reiterate that this is not legislation. It is a framework that I believe provides a win for all parties and allows us to discuss this important issue." Congressman Mike Simpson.

With respect to Rep. Simpson, we disagree that this is a "win". Instead, as proposed, his plan for a motorized Mecca on the White Cloudís west side is a great loss for wild lands and wildlife. His plan is better on the White Cloudís east side, where motorized intrusion from machines has yet to gain a strong foothold.

The Framework has five parts.

1. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN CENTRAL IDAHO

The plan proposes to transfer lands to Custer County adjacent to or near Stanley or in the Sawtooth Valley, which could be sold for between six to ten million dollars.

We oppose transfer of SNRA federal lands to Custer County or the City of Stanley. Such transfer goes against the 1972 SNRA legislation, which was intended to stop subdivisions and protect scenic vistas via easements.

If Stanley needs room for low cost or employee housing, there are numerous properties for sale including hotels, which perhaps could be converted into such, rather than developing and spoiling public lands. Also, we not believe cities or counties should be in the business of real estate, attempting to raise millions of dollars. The track record is poor in Stanley and Custer County for enforcing regulations that protect the environment.

On June 30, the City Council of the town of Stanley, population about 100, passed a resolution requesting:

Property be transferred from the Forest Service to the City of Stanley:

  1. Banner street, appr. 8 acres, maximum four home sites

  2. Old sewer ponds, appr. 50 acres, for affordable housing, community and recreational development. [Note: a hot spring in this area might be developed into a swimming pool with nearby RV park]

  3. Sewer Pond upper bench, appr. 400 acres, for low-density development.

We will post more comments addressing concerns with the above requests Ė including impacts to endangered salmon and steelhead in Valley Creek; impacts to three rare endemic plant species; and impacts to the view shed seen from Highway 75 between Lower Stanley and Stanley.

LOOK AT the City of Stanley's June 30, 2004 Resolution on Rep. Mike Simpson's
Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Proposal (CIEDRP)
.

LOOK AT an article from the Challis Messenger on this subject.

LOOK AT an additional article from the Challis Messenger:
"Hosac proposed land exchange with City of Stanley" by Anna Means

 

2. Transfer 1,000 acres of Challis National Forest lands to Custer County. We oppose this and instead support direct appropriation of funds to help Custer County. At the July 1st Challis Town meeting, most residents expressed the need for money, not land that Custer County will have to try and sell with unpredictable results.

3. Transfer small miscellaneous parcels to Custer County or private landowners to clean up conflicts with USFS and BLM.

"Transfer?" Perhaps the Framework meant "sold"? Any public lands that are to be transferred to private ownership must be paid for at fair market value, or private lands in equal value elsewhere must be given to the Federal Government to become part of our public lands.

4. Transfer small parcels to Custer County and the State of Idaho to be used for recreation and tourism development.

We oppose giving land to Custer County and the state of Idaho for this purpose because of the motorized bias that both entities have long shown. Allowing the county or state to establish motorized beachheads in and near the Boulder-White Clouds would create a motorized nightmare that would ruin peace and quiet and harm wildlife security. If such parcels would be to enhance wildlife habitat and further the publicís appreciation of wildlife and natural values, we would reconsider.

Stanley to Redfish Lake Bike Path/Snowmobile Trail conveyed to the State of Idaho "without consideration".

This area is part of the SNRA and any such trail SHOULD NOT BE conveyed to the state of Idaho. The Framework does not state if the bike path is to be motorized or not. We support a bicycle path if the trail stays within SNRA jurisdiction. We do not support a motorcycle path or snowmobile path. Redfish Lake in winter already receives too many visits from noisy, stinking snowmachines. Snowmobiles chase away other quiet recreationists who would otherwise stay and spend time and money in Stanley.

PART 2 - PRIVATE PROPERTY & ECONOMIC USERS

RANCHERS - Allotment buyouts.

We support permit buyouts from all ranchers within the Boulder-White Clouds. Allotments bought out must be permanently retired and not re opened. We also support easements for ranchers in the East Fork Salmon River and elsewhere to help them hold onto their base property and not subdivide it.

OUTFITTERS & GUIDES - the plan provides for a ten-year extension to all outfitters from current permit expiration date, allowance to apply for additional extensions, and $500,000 to be held in fund for trails and other improvements related to outfitting, guiding, hiking and horseback use.

We prefer to let current managing agencies of outfitters handle their permits. We also wonder why such a large sum of money is allocated to outfitting needs -- instead of going through the current system of having trail projects or improvements planned by the Forest Service or BLM. The current system allows for public comment on such projects. The Simpson plan does not.

MINING - We support the purchase of existing mining claims within the area. The plan needs clarification on what is "reasonable access to development" since someone may decide that bulldozing a road to a claim, rather than hiking or riding, may be "reasonable".

PART 3 - RECREATION - MOTORIZED & OTHER

Note: This is the part of Simpsonís plan that fails to protect the west side of the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains as Wilderness, but makes motorized use the main use.

Simpson leaves out the following areas, which were recommended by the Sawtooth National Forest for Wilderness:

Fourth of July Lake-Washington Lake Trail 109 (Fourth of July is presently in his Wilderness boundary but may not be for long due to pressure from motorbikers and snowmobilers)

Phyllis Lake, Thunder & Lightning Lakes

Heart Lake and Six Lakes Basin

Champion Lakes & Rainbow Lakes

Horton Peak

Warm Springs Meadow

Martin Creek trail

Frog Lake

Big Boulder trail

Little Boulder trail

North Fork Big Wood

West Fork Big Wood

Amber Gulch

East Fork Big Wood

SOME GOOD NEWS IN THE PLAN -- Simpsonís wilderness boundary on the east side in the Herd Creek, Jerry Peak, Sheep Mountain and Bowery Peak areas is better than Forest Service recommended wilderness boundaries. In fact, Simpsonís east side wilderness proposal makes the overall plan worth trying to improve.

The Framework specifically states that the following trails will remain open to motorized travel:

Big Boulder/Frog Lake/Little Boulder Loop

Casino Lakes area trails

Germania Creek trail #111

Germania Creek-Bowery Cut-off trail #114

Washington Lake Trail #109

There may be other trails that are not specified.

Washington Lake - While we are willing to compromise on some trails, we especially are disappointed that the Washington Lake area is left out of wilderness. Washington Lake is just a mile from Fourth of July Lake and both are the White Cloudís most popular family lake hikes. Simpson is showing preferential treatment to motorbikers and snowmobiles over thousands of families who hike and camp at the lakes.

Casino Lakes - We believe the motorized people should compromise in the Casino Lakes region and allow the Rough Creek trail to Rough Creek, Garland Lakes and Lookout Mountain to be Wilderness.

Germania Creek - We oppose Simpsonís proposal to leave Germania Creek trail out of Wilderness. Germania Creek is the fall and spring migration route for elk, deer and pronghorn. There are mountain goats and bighorn sheep that will suffer from increased motorized intrusion. The trail is in bad shape and crosses Germania Creek several times. If the route is greatly improved, then hoards of motorcycles will swarm the canyon, ruining a primitive backcountry experience for other users.

Big Boulder-Frog Lake-Little Boulder - The Frog Lake area has high wilderness qualities and should be Wilderness.

Champion Lakes Trail #105 - Simpson proposes opening this to year around motorized use. We oppose this ludicrous notion. Champion Lakes isnít even open to mountain bikes.

Phyllis Lake - Washington Basin new motorized trail - another bad idea. Phyllis Lake trail is closed to motorized use now. Simpson would build a new trail for motorcycles and snowmachines over a 9,600-foot pristine pass, through mountain goat habitat, to connect to Washington Lake Creek and Washington Basin. Then, some how on to Champion Lakes. This is one of the most preposterous parts of Simpsonís plan.

Warm Springs Meadow - Simpson has yielded to motorized interests and is proposing to keep a mile of the Meadow open to cycles so that they can ride from Fisher Creek or Williams Creek, through the Meadow to Martin Creek, and out to Casino Lakes region. All of Warm Springs Meadow should in Wilderness. Simpsonís proposal allows motorized intrusion into the heart of Warm Springs canyon. He also allows winter snowmobiling in Warm Springs Meadow.

Grand Prize Gulch trail #112 - the Framework states that this trail will be closed to motorized use, but then itís shown as open to winter to snowmobiles. This is unacceptable. We support wilderness designation for Grand Prize and the West Fork of the East Fork. Snowmobiles will not stop at the top of Grand Prize at the wilderness boundary. They will trespass to reach the powder bowls on the back side of the Boulder Mountains.

Idaho Dept. of Parts & Rec - would be given $1 million dollars for campgrounds, recreation facilities and access to federal lands.

We absolutely oppose the Frameworkís plan to give funds to the pro-motorized Parks & Rec department. The lands in the Boulder-White Clouds should remain under jurisdiction of the Sawtooth and Challis Forests and the BLM. Letting Parks and Rec. with their motorized bias and distaste toward quiet recreation, establish campgrounds for motorized launch pads into the Boulder-White Clouds would ruin the area.

"Equivalent Opportunity" - The plan states that if a motorized trail or road is closed for whatever reason, another equivalent motorized trail or road must be opened. This shall be done with the ORMV (Off road motorized vehicle) advisory council. This is terrible suggestion. Simpson proposes to take trail and road management out of the hands of the forest service or BLM and gives it over to a motorized council. There would be no environmental analysis or public input. This language must be stricken from Simpsonís plan.

In the same vein, Simpson proposes to create new motorized trailheads, access points and campgrounds to make up for lost opportunity due to wilderness. We oppose this -- thereís plenty of access and dispersed camping areas.

We support a new backpacker trailhead at Livingston Mill.

PART 4 - CONSERVATION

Wilderness Acres: Simpsonís plan calls for 250,000 to 300,000 acres to be wilderness. It would be managed in three parts as the White Cloud, Boulder and Jerry Peak Wilderness areas. We prefer that it be called the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness and managed as one. We support having the SNRA, Challis and BLM cooperatively manage their portions of a unified Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness.

These areas need to be added as Wilderness to Simpsonís plan:

Champion Lakes watershed

Phyllis Lake Basin

Heart Lake/Six Lakes Basin

Washington Lake and Washington Lake Creek

Germania Creek-Bowery Cut-Off

Mountain Meadow Creek

Red Ridge

Frog Lake

Little Boulder-Big Boulder trails

Rough Creek-Rough Lake-Garland Lakes-Lookout Mountain

Warm Springs canyon Ė include the ENTIRE drainage in Wilderness. Extend wilderness boundary to near the Salmon River at Robinson Bar. Add nearby canyons of Treon and Beaver Creek to Wilderness.

Slate Creek Ė add entire watershed except for private land and roads to Wilderness.

North Fork Big Wood River watershed

Upper Eagle Creek and Lake Creek near Ketchum

North Fork Big Lost River canyon to within 100í feet of the road

Big Lost watershed canyons: Pinto, Burnt, Garden, Lake, Twin Bridges and Deep Creek drainages down to Trail Creek Road.

Corral Creek, Sawmill Creek and the North Fork of Sage Creek down to the Sage Creek/NFK Sage roads.

Eliminate the Mosquito Creek jeep trail in the Simpson recommended Wilderness for Bear Creek and Dry Hollows area.

Add the Corral-Horse Basin WSA entirely Ė there are no conflicts here.

Add the entire Railroad Ridge-Potaman Peak area to Wilderness, leaving one road to the top of Railroad Ridge.

Wheelchair access: We support a proposed wheelchair access trail at Bowery Guard Station and upstream along the East Fork Salmon River. Also, we support a similar trail at Fourth of July and Washington Lakes -- the easiest lakes to access in the range.

Part 5 - ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Federal Reserve Water Right - the plan says this is unnecessary. However, we support Federal Reserved Water Rights against a future time when developers may seek water from the Boulder-White Clouds to cool condos in California or grow hay in southern Idaho.

Military Overflights - the plan says nothing shall restrict low level, flight testing or other various military flight options. This is too permissive. Land use managers and the public should have a say in such military activities and restrictions, if necessary, should be established over the Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness area.

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