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Current News & Issues: Wilderness


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Letter from Sawtooth Society President Bob Hayes to David Kimpton, Stanley and 22 other citizens who signed the April 20 letter to the Society.

Box 268
Boise ID 83701

April 26, 2005

Mr. Dave Kimpton
P.O. Box 282
Stanley, Idaho 83278

Dear Dave:

I am writing in response to your letter of April 20, in which you and others urge the Sawtooth Society to withdraw support for a provision the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) to transfer three parcels of federally owned land, totaling approximately 162 acres, and located adjacent to the City of Stanley, to the city and/or Custer County.

The Society is reluctant to endorse the transfer of protected federal land in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) to non-government entities for development purposes. We testified to that effect at public hearings held by Congressman Mike Simpson in late June and early July.

Leading up to our appearance at those hearings, however, we concluded that any legislation that sought to protect the Boulder-White Cloud region with Wilderness designation would, by political necessity, include a provision to transfer federal land in the SNRA. Accordingly, the Society testified that we would support such a transfer of ownership if it was in the broad public interest and the land met certain criteria with respect to size, location and development. We also said that our support would be contingent upon the land transfer being an integral part of a bill that includes the Boulder-White Clouds region in the national Wilderness system.

Subsequently, the Society collaborated openly with Congressman Simpson and officials from Custer County, the City of Stanley and Forest Service to identify land that met the criteria we set forth, and to establish strict deed restrictions governing development of that land (for example, the building envelope for Parcel B is located in a depression and the structures are not to be visible from Highways 21 and 75. Our involvement was discussed at public meetings and reported in the press.

The Society believes that by working with elected representatives of state and local residents and the agency charged with implementing the law that created the SNRA, we are helping to ensure that CIEDRA will not mandate the transfer of larger, more visible tracts of federal land that are devoid of development restrictions. We got a glimpse of that last spring, when it was proposed that CIEDRA transfer public land near Stanley Lake for development into a 100-unit subdivision. The Society cautioned Congressman Simpson that the proposal, if implemented, could lead to the unraveling of 30 years’ efforts to protect open space in the Stanley Basin and the Sawtooth Valley. He thanked us for our input and dropped the proposal.

Dave, I know you and your colleagues have strong feelings about this matter (a number of the signatories are friends of mine, and I respect the heart-felt sincerity of their opinions). As a result, I don’t expect my explanation of the Society’s reasoning to provide much consolation. Still, I hope you and they can accept we are acting in good faith to safeguard the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It is a goal the Society assumed upon our founding in 1997, and we believe we have accomplished much in that regard. We intend to continue that tradition.


Robert B. Hayes
Executive Director

Cc: Sawtooth Society Board of Directors

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