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Stanley area/Sawtooth Valley Citizens’ letter to Sawtooth Society President Bob Hayes and the Board, asking the Society to withdraw their support of SNRA land giveaways.

April 20, 2005


Robert Hayes, Executive Director & Board Vice-President
Sawtooth Society
P.O. Box 268
Boise, Idaho 83701

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Nat & Sally Adams
Jim Bennetts
Jeff & Deb Bitton
Hans & Terry Carstensen
John Chapman
Bethine Church
Jeffery Fereday
The Hon. Orval Hansen
Robert & Donna-Marie Hayes
Scott Hayes
Michael & Candace Humphreys
Andrew & Linda Lawler
Roland & Sally MacNichol
Daniel Mahoney
The Hon. Jim McClure
Dave & Sheila Mills
Ted & Helen Pardoe
Reuben & Susan Perin
Earl Reynolds
Gray Reynolds
Bob Sevy & Ann Legg
Ken Smith
Dottie Stimpson
Russ Stoddard
Larry Stone
Sandy Vail
The Hon. Cecil Andrus
Ernie Day


Dear Sawtooth Society,

We are enclosing some recent newspaper clippings regarding the giveaway of 162 acres of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) and ask the Sawtooth Society to withdraw its support for this land deal.

These lands along Valley Creek near its confluence with the Salmon River are critical wintering grounds for elk. Chinook salmon and Steelhead spawn and rear in Valley Creek.

Other species also depend on Valley Creek and its riparian and wetland habitat, and the adjacent uplands, which are a mosaic of sagebrush steppe, wet meadows, springs, and conifers on north hillsides and ridges. Birds and wildlife include osprey, bald eagle, owls, sandhill cranes and hawks such as marsh, Swainson, red tail, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned. Migrating and resident ducks, geese and songbirds live here. There are mule deer, river otter, beaver, mink and muskrat plus red fox, coyote and sometimes wolves.

There are three fragile wildflower species that grow here and nowhere else in the world.

The Sawtooths are the most photographed mountain range in Idaho, and the views across these 162 acres are among the most stunning views in the state. The proposed land giveaway would ruin this vista with commercial and real estate development.

As is becoming clear to the public, the proposed giveaway of this precious area was a deal reached by Custer County Commissioners, Stanley’s mayor (elected by 35 votes and the flip of a coin) and Stanley city council, and the Sawtooth Society. The good name of the Sawtooth Society is being used by Rep. Simpson and local politicians to give credibility to this land giveaway: that is, the Sawtooth Society stands behind and supports this land deal, so it must be good for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

This deal is in sharp contrast to what the Sawtooth Society is telling the public in terms of its fund-raising letters and web site.

The Sawtooth Society’s web site states, in part:

Formed in 1997, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Society is the only organization dedicated exclusively to:

 

  • Serving as an advocate for the SNRA

  • Preserving open space in the SNRA

  • Enhancing recreation facilities and services in the SNRA

Also laudable and worthy of support are the Society’s efforts to protect open space in the SNRA as noted on the web site:

PRESERVING OPEN SPACE

 

  • Stopped the most immediate threat of high-density subdivision development in the SNRA by negotiating the purchase of a conservation easement on the Piva family's Basin Butte Ranches.

  • Worked with the Administration and Congress to secure $16 million in federal funds for the purchase of conservation easements in the SNRA. Since 1998 the agency has secured conservation easements on 12 properties.

  • Published a booklet to increase public awareness and understanding of federal regulations for the use and development of private land in the SNRA.

The Society’s position to giveaway 162 acres of the SNRA – critical wildlife habitat and spectacular views of the Sawtooth Peaks – cannot be reconciled with these statements.

On February 23, 2005, the Sawtooth Society sent a letter to “Friend of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area”. Below are excerpts from your letter, with a response:

The top priority [in creating the Sawtooth NRA] was to halt – even reverse – ecologically destructive subdivision development. [This deal will promote ecologically destructive subdivision development on crucial elk wintering grounds and promote development that would likely adversely impact spawning Chinook salmon and Steelhead in Lower Valley Creek.]

The organization would work with Congress, with the Forest Service, with landowners, indeed, with all area stakeholders. [The 162-acre land giveaway was a backroom deal. The Society may have worked with Rep. Simpson’s staff and local politicians, but you did not work with local landowners and others concerned about Valley Creek.]

With your support, we will continue to pursue our mission to protect the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. [How does the Society reconcile giving away the Sawtooth NRA while your mission is to “protect it”?]

Please, join the only organization that is dedicated exclusively to protecting the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area. [See comments above. You can’t have it both ways.]

In closing, the Sawtooth Society’s good name is squarely in support of a backroom deal to giveaway valuable wildlife habitats and scenic splendor from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. This decision has jeopardized this precious place, and also the good name and good works of the Sawtooth Society.

The Valley Creek land giveaway will soon emerge onto a national stage for Congressional and national debate. We encourage you, the Sawtooth Society, to honor your mission and withdraw your support and name from this giveaway of precious lands from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Sincerely,

Dave Kimpton, Stanley
Marie Osborn, Stanley
Ann and Drew Nosworthy, Stanley
Laurii and Gary Gadwa, Stanley
Marilyn Mueller, Sawtooth Valley
Hans and Lotte Buhler, Stanley
Jack and Patty See, Lower Stanley
Doug and Ann Christensen, Ketchum
William Hart, Stanley
Peggy Jurgens, Stanley
Martha Jones, Challis
Michelle Wetzel, Stanley
Jack and Louise Stands, Stanley
Nancy Williams, Stanley
Noel Sitton, Stanley
CatharineAnderson, Stanley
Jerry Hughes and Carol Finley, Stanley
 

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