Press Release on Citizens letter to Sawtooth Society President Bob Hayes
and the Board.
P.O. Box 282
Stanley, Idaho 83278
For Immediate Release, April 23, 2005
Sawtooth residents ask Sawtooth Society to withdraw support for giving
away SNRA wildlife habitat for development
For more information:
Marilyn Mueller 774-3362
Dave Kimpton 774-3386
STANLEY – Today, Stanley and Sawtooth Valley residents sent a letter to
the Sawtooth Society’s Board of Directors, asking them to withdraw their
support for giving away wildlife habitat in the Sawtooth National
Recreation Area (SNRA) for development.
At stake are 162 acres of SNRA land that would be given away for
subdivisions and commercial development under Rep. Mike Simpson’s Central
Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA).
The giveaway would include 154 acres along Valley Creek near its
confluence with the Salmon River. These acres contain crucial elk
wintering grounds, have spawning and rearing Chinook salmon and steelhead,
and many other aquatic and terrestrial species.
“Along with being irreplaceable wildlife habitat, Valley Creek and its
uplands offer spectacular views of the Sawtooth Mountains”, says Marilyn
Mueller, who has lived in the Sawtooth Valley for 35 years. “This part of
Valley Creek is where elk survive in frigid, snowy Stanley winters. We’re
asking the Sawtooth Society to rethink its decision, live up to its
mission, and withdraw its support for giving away these SNRA lands."
Rep. Simpson’s CIEDRA would give away 68 acres (on either side of Valley
86 acres on the Valley Creek uplands to the City of Stanley and Custer
County for development. Another 8.3 acres is on the west side of Stanley.
An RV park, condos, trophy home sites, low cost housing, tent campground,
convention center, and spa with hot tubs are some of the items that have
been suggested by officials for the parcels.
Located between the two tiny towns of Stanley and Lower Stanley, these
lands hold some of the most photographed views in Idaho. Stanley, often
the coldest spot in the nation, is known for harsh winters. About 80-120
elk survive the winter here because of large hot springs (keeping areas
snow free) and abundant willows and vegetation along Valley Creek.
Other wildlife also depend on Valley Creek's riparian and wetland zones,
and its uplands of forests, meadows, springs and sagebrush steppe. Birds
include bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, many species of hawks, sandhill
crane, and resident and migrating songbirds, ducks and geese. Valley Creek
is home to beaver, river otter, muskrat and mink.
Along with elk, there are mule deer that raise their fawns along Valley
Creek. Other animals include red fox, coyote, gray wolf, marmots and
Columbia ground squirrels -- the latter two species providing an essential
food source for Valley Creek’s birds of prey.
Three fragile wildflower species grow here and nowhere else. Stanley
whitlow-grass (Draba trichocarpa) and Stanley Candy tuft (Thlaspi
idahoense var. aileeniae), both in the Mustard Family, are starting to
bloom now near Valley Creek. The third is Guardian Buckwheat (Erigonum
meledonium), Buckwheat Family, which blooms in summer.
“CIEDRA would sell these SNRA lands, which would then be subdivided and/or
paved for commercial use, profoundly damaging important wildlife,
botanical, and scenic values”, says Dave Kimpton, elk hunter and
fisherman. Kimpton also volunteers as board president of the Salmon River
Emergency Clinic and is a retired Ranger for the SNRA’s Stanley region.
Kimpton states, "Valley Creek's habitat is essential for the diversity and
survival of wildlife. We need to have a solid tax base, but not at the
cost of harming wildlife and giving up irreplaceable habitat.
Noel Sitton, a Stanley area realtor, adds, “The SNRA was created to
preserve natural, scenic, historic, pastoral, fish, wildlife and
recreation values. We’ve spent $58 million dollars since 1972 in easements
and land purchases to protect these values.”
The letter from residents to the Sawtooth Society includes references to
the Society’s web page describing itself as "dedicated exclusively to
serving as an advocate for the SNRA" having worked to protect open space
and stopping high density development. The Sawtooth Society includes some
of the most prominent citizens in Idaho.
"In the past, the Sawtooth Society has done important work in protecting
the SNRA," adds Ann Nosworthy, a Valley Creek homeowner, and who
especially enjoys seeing the variety of wildlife. "It would be a shame for
the Society – and a horrible outcome for the elk and other wildlife whose
survival depends on this place – for lower Valley Creek to be given away
and destroyed. These SNRA lands belong to all of us, to our children, and
to future generations.”