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Current News & Issues: Wilderness


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Press Release on Citizens letter to Sawtooth Society President Bob Hayes and the Board.

P.O. Box 282
Stanley, Idaho 83278

News Release:
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 Creek), and
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.”

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