Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Recreation is key to Boulder-White Clouds monument support in Blaine County

Famous athletes, movie stars and billionaire business icons who annually trek to the Wood River Valley's world-class outdoor locales have prompted other rural Idaho communities to treat the valley almost like a foreign land. A Custer County commissioner, when discussing the proposed Boulder-White Clouds National Monument that Blaine County supports, described Sun Valley and environs derisively as "glitter gulch." Blaine County residents and business leaders say the county is far more like the rest of rural Idaho than its critics acknowledge. At its core are the shopkeepers, ski instructors, government workers, farmers and service-industry employees who scratch out a living, just like their Idaho neighbors. Like people in other resource-dependent communities, their lives are tied to the elements. When a snow drought hit in December and January this winter, skiing at Sun Valley dried up and the economy suffered. The Beaver Creek Fire that filled the valley with smoke and forced several evacuations in August hurt summer tourism. The recession cooled off the valley's construction economy and slowed two decades of rapid growth. But unlike much of rural Idaho, Blaine County has developed a diverse economy that includes not just recreation and farming, but also telecommuters and small businesses - laboratories and engineering firms that do business worldwide. This has given Blaine County an infrastructure that lets it manage, build and promote its economy and lifestyle, said Larry Schoen, Blaine County commission chairman. "In today's world, recreation is a dominant part of our community," said Schoen, who lives on a 300-acre ranch south of Bellevue. "The public lands are viewed as a tremendous asset for our community." That's why the commission passed a resolution asking President Barack Obama to establish a Boulder-White Clouds monument. Schoen met with administration officials in Washington, D.C., in March, and he's hopeful representatives will come to Idaho in June to meet with local residents to discuss their plans. Designation of a 570,000-acre national monument has emerged as a serious option since the death of Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson's Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill...more

No comments: