Scotchman Peak Opposition Grows
In the letters to the editor supporting the proposed Scotchman Peak federal “wilderness designation” the common thread running through them is that the designation will ensure the preservation of the environment’s beauty. Will that preservation disappear without a wilderness designation? Supporters and the director of Friends of Scotchman Peak admit that “No change will result due to this legislation”. Nor is there a smidgen of an indication that the land “could potentially be sold to developers”, as the FSPW website states.
So we can reasonably call this a solution in search of a problem.
Thankfully, a great number of current elected officials as well as state and local candidates have realized this and taken a stand against it:
• The Clark Fork City Council, representing the community closest to the land, unanimously voted against it.
• The Idaho State Senate Natural Resources Committee unanimously voted against it.
• The Natural Resources Committee of the Idaho House of Representatives voted 15-2 against it.
• The full Idaho House and Senate voted against it.
• The last WHEREAS of Idaho House Joint Memorial 14, signed March 14, 2018, reads, “Several years ago, advisory votes relating to a suggested new national monument designation and a wilderness designation in Idaho were held in a number of potentially affected counties in central and eastern Idaho, both showing over ninety percent opposition to such designations.”
• Further, the current plan of a wilderness designation is opposed by the following state and county Republican candidates: Scott, Dixon, Herndon, Ahrens, Woodward, Boeck, McDonald, and Bradshaw.
The Bonner County Commissioners are split on the issue, with Commissioner McDonald opposing it and Bailey and Connolly favoring it. So they decided to place the designation question on the May 15 primary ballot as an advisory vote.
Opponents immediately questioned the wording of the question as lacking clarity because it omitted the word “federal” from “wilderness designation” and only asks voters whether they favor the designation, not whether they support or oppose it. Both Bailey and Connolly, despite the urging of citizens and the Bonner County Clerk, who is also the chief elections officer, declined to provide that clarity. The justifications for their denial were rigid and pedantic, and because both favor the wilderness designation, raised suspicions of ballot engineering.
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