HAILEY, Idaho (AP) — Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho have agreed to draft a resolution describing what they'd like to see in a presidential proclamation designating a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument.
"Now is the time for us to come together and actively support a national monument," said Commissioner Angenie McCleary at the meeting Wednesday.
But commissioners said they want to take additional comments from the public before drafting the resolution.
The Boulder-White Clouds is a 500,000 acre roadless area in east-central Idaho. Parts of those lands have been considered before for either monument or protected wilderness status.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has attempted to have approved in Congress the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which would have created three wilderness areas in the Boulder and White Cloud Mountains of 332,775 acres, while also releasing 130,000 acres from wilderness study are to multiple use.
But those efforts have so far failed, so conservation groups are lobbying the Obama administration to establish a national monument.
Presidents have the sole authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect land under national monument status. Presidents from both parties have used the law to designate monument status to places such as the Grand Canyon and Idaho's own Craters of the Moon.
Motorcycle riders and snowmobilers attending the meeting Wednesday said they're concerned monument status could prevent them from entering the area.
Commissioner Larry Schoen said the commission can't wait for collaborative efforts to get results.
"The world is moving on around us, and we're not the only actors here," Schoen said. "I feel confident that nothing this board is going to do is in any way going to feel like subverting the public process that would come in the development of a management plan."
Officials in nearby Custer County oppose any areas in the region being designated as a national monument.
"If it were in Blaine County, it wouldn't be a problem," said Wayne Butts, chair of the Custer County Commission. "We don't care what happens in Glitter Gulch."