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Current News & Issues: Wilderness


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By Todd Adams.


Simpson says L&W Stone sale won't be in CIEDRA


January 19, 2006
Challis Messenger

Rep. Mike Simpson has decided not to add a plan to sell the Three Rivers Stone Quarry site near Clayton to L&W Stone to his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act because the idea is too controversial.

"As I have said many times during the CIEDRA legislative process, CIEDRA is a finely tuned bill that is based on many compromises and considerations," Simpson said in a statement released January 12.

"The constructive feedback I have received over the past three weeks has made it apparent to me that including the quarry would tip the balance for many of those who have been working toward the overall goals of CIEDRA."

Simpson said he considered adding the L&W Stone sale to CIEDRA after it and other controversial mining provisions were stripped from a budget reconciliation bill.

The sale narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in November as part of the Mining Act of 1872, which was written into the budget reconciliation bill. The sale and mining language were pulled from that bill in the Senate in December and are dead, at least for now.

The nearly 520-acre quarry site would have been sold to L&W Stone for $1,000 or $519,700. Custer County and the state parks program each would have been paid $200,000.

The county has supported the sale, but Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and other environmental groups opposed it and the sale of other public lands under the bill.

If the sale had gone through, the Idaho Department of Lands would have taken over from the BLM as the lead agency overseeing mining plans, reclamation and bonding at the quarry.

The privatization of the quarry would have made the WWP lawsuit and a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) null and void.

"Apart from CIEDRA, I remain committed to ensuring that L&W Stone remains a viable and definite part of Custer County's economy," Simpson said. "As the second largest employer in Custer County, the L&W Stone quarry is an important economic generator for the citizens of Custer County."

Simpson and his staff still are waiting for a committee vote to be scheduled on CIEDRA, a mix of wilderness designation and economic development for Custer County.

Rep. Greg Warden's Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health did not vote on CIEDRA during an October hearing. The full House Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Pombo, must give the bill an up or down vote, but none has been scheduled yet, said Simpson's chief of staff Lindsay Slater.

Simpson hopes it will make it to the House floor and pass before the 109th Congress adjourns at year's end.

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