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The following article appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express, Ketchum, Idaho, May 25, 2005. View the original article online at  

Group continues to fight land trades in Stanley

Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer


Lynne Stone shows the lands along Valley Creek near Stanley that would be given to the city for development as part of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act. Express photo by Greg Stahl

One doesn't have to look around very long to uncover opposition to Congressman Mike Simpson's wilderness and economic development proposal for Central Idaho.

So far, four camps have been leading the charge: Sawtooth Valley snowmobilers, Stanley-area residents who are opposed to 162 acres of federal land giveaways in and around Stanley, the Sierra Club, and advocates for more widespread wilderness protections who view Simpson's proposal as too much of a concession.

More opponents are sure to turn up.

Among those leading the charge is long-time Central Idaho resident and environmental activist Lynne Stone, the executive director of the Boulder White Clouds Council.

Although she is wildly unhappy with Simpson's proposed land giveaways around Stanley, Stone said she is not sure if that part of the legislation will kill her overall support for the bill.

"I'm absolutely opposed to giving away 162 acres of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area to Stanley [and Custer County]," Stone said. "I don't think the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act has to have this parcel in there in order to pass."

During a tour of some of the lands proposed to be given to Stanley, Stone showed that a parcel along the banks of Valley Creek will need to be filled with soil to raise it above the water table. She showed that homes built on a bench above Valley Creek will be visible from Stanley.

She said the homes would be "Sun Valley-style ghost houses." The property does have views that put most Wood River Valley views to shame.

But Simpson countered Stone's allegations.

"I am guaranteeing you that if we took this out, there would be the controversy of something else," he said. "This is more than just a wilderness bill. This is a Central Idaho economic development bill, also."

He also said the land gifts will not set a precedent. This is the last wilderness bill possible in the Sawtooth Valley, he pointed out.

"This is all (the land gifts) I'll support," he said.

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