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Sierra Club pushes for Idaho national monument

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm •  Published: July 17, 2014
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The chances of a national monument being designated in central Idaho are better than 50 percent, the executive director of the 2.4-million-member Sierra Club says.

"Well north of 50-50," said Michael Brune on a stop in Boise on Thursday before heading to the proposed monument area for a camping trip. "I'd say it's likely, but clearly not yet settled."

Brune said he's met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to discuss a 592,000-acre national monument in the rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains, and that tens of thousands of club members are working for monument designation.

The group had a similar game plan leading up to the designation in May of a national monument in southern New Mexico. President Obama vowed during the signing ceremony for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to make more proclamations using his executive power under the Antiquities Act to protect federal lands.

Brune, who attended the signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., said Obama's statement that he wasn't done creating national monuments drew loud applause.

"Internally, we've been meeting with the Department of the Interior, Council on Environmental Quality, and members of the president's senior staff inside the White House to talk about being ambitious in to declare these new national monuments," Brune said. "If we're not able to get strong legislation passed, then it's his responsibility to use his executive authority."

The Sierra Club would rather see a wilderness designation go through Congress, he said, and the group supported the latest version by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's bill that would have done that.

The plan, hammered out with the approval of a range of groups, would have created three wilderness areas totaling 332,775 acres, while also releasing 130,000 acres from wilderness study area to a multiple-use designation.

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