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Boulder-White Cloud Protection Plan Called Snake-Oil Medicine

A well-organized and financed drive to create a national monument in Idaho's scenic Boulder-White Clouds backcountry is generating some push-back from a grassroots g roup. Patrick and Jenny Seefried live in MacKay Idaho on the eastern boundary of the proposed 570,000 acre national monument. They're opposed to any new protections for the rugged area.

They've formed an organization called "Your Boulder White Clouds," contending that the three federal agencies which now run parts of the area are doing just fine - that their management has worked well for more than 40 years.

The Seefrieds compare the national monument plan to a snake-oil salesman's spiel, promising wonderful recovery and revitalization from something that is no more than a cheap laxative. The mountainous region in central Idaho is the largest unprotected roadless area in the country outside Alaska.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson wrote a bill to protect swaths of wilderness in the region while preserving some popular ATV and motorcycle trails. But it went nowhere in Congress.

Now, two groups with environmental clout - the Wilderness Society and the Idaho Conservation League - are pushing for President Obama to declare the area a national monument. He can do that under the Antiquities Act without going through Congress.

The proposal has split local governments which abut the area. The Custer County commission has put itself in opposition to it, while in neighboring Blaine County, commissioners approved a resolution asking for creation of the monument.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio.