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Current News & Issues: Wilderness


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Richard B. Meyer, Hailey, writes about the fight for Castle Peak & the creation of the SNRA in 1972.

April 11, 2005

Subject: Recalling the fight for Castle Peak & creation of the SNRA

Dear Editor:

Thank you for the superb reporting in last week’s paper about the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) land giveaway and the great photo of wintering elk on Valley Creek.

Rep. Mike Simpson’s proposal to give away over 162 acres of SNRA land for development, most of it irreplaceable wildlife habitat by Valley Creek near Stanley, is an abomination. This can’t be allowed to happen. Idahoans need to speak up and fast.

About 35 years ago, I took a helicopter ride into the White Cloud Mountains where ASARCO was doing mining exploration. I learned that the company intended to develop a huge open pit molybdenum mine at the base of Castle Peak. Others and myself sought help from fellow Idahoans, including Cecil Andrus, to stop the mine. After a hard fought battle, we succeeded.

In 1972, the SNRA was created by Public Law 92-400 to protect natural, scenic, pastoral, wildlife, fish and recreation values. Any future mining venture would have to be weighed against these values.

Also, in order to keep the SNRA the special place it is and compensate private land owners for not developing their land, since 1972 American taxpayers have spent millions – approaching $60 million -- in scenic easements or to buy land to stop development.

But now, Rep. Simpson seems to be shrugging off over three decades of effort and concern that the SNRA remain unspoiled. Rep. Simpson is prepared to hand over to Custer County and the City of Stanley, crucial elk winter range and riparian areas of Valley Creek, a salmon and steelhead stream.

This is wrong and it must be stopped. These SNRA lands belong to all of us, to our children and to future generations. Please contact Rep. Simpson and say no to SNRA land transfers. His D.C. phone number is 202/225-5531; FAX 202/225-8216; E-mail:


Richard B. Meyer
Hailey ID 83333

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