Friday, May 09, 2014

Counties Clash over Boulder-White Clouds Proposal

Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said he wanted his board to find similarities with the Custer County Commission during their first joint meeting in memory Wednesday. The similarities could benefit the debate over creating a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument, he said. But after rounds of mostly skeptical public comment, Custer County Commissioner Wayne Butts turned conservationists supporting the monument into his personal punching bag. Butts said his board felt “lied to” by conservationists who promised transparency when they expanded the monument proposal, now before the Obama administration, to include Malm Gulch. The area — all in Custer County — contains petrified sequoia trees and is 10 miles south of Challis. With that mid-April expansion, the monument grew from 571,276 to 591,905 acres, most of it in Custer County. The Blaine commission has supported the monument idea; the Custer commission has opposed it. “They assured this board that if there was anything in the works that they would come to us,” Butts said. “Well, they not only lied, they stabbed us in the back. We read it in the (newspapers) … so the relationship is not looking real good.” Rob Mason of The Wilderness Society said Thursday he emailed Butts about the change several days before his group announced the decision publicly. After the meeting, members of both commissions agreed to draft a letter to ask various federal officials to come to the area and answer questions about the monument declaration process and to vet key issues...more

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