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National monument tally increases under Obama

PUBLIC LANDS — President Obama is using his presidential power to end-around the gridlock in Washington to give better protection to choice public lands.

President Obama designates national monument in New Mexico
At a press conference Wednesday, President Obama designated 500,000 acres in New Mexico along the state's border with Mexico the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, the 12th time he has used the Antiquities Act to protect lands, and he said he's not done yet.
—Salt Lake Tribune

Here's a list of top-choice areas for President Obama to consider designating as national monuments, including the Alpine Lakes region of Washington, Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds, Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, and several classic areas in Utah.

Jewell lends ear to Boulder-White Cloud monument proposal

PUBLIC LANDS — This is promising in an era of deadlock:

Interior secretary seeks invite from Idaho on Boulder-White Clouds plan
While visiting Stanley on Monday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she'd welcome an opportunity to discuss the proposal to designate the Boulder-White Clouds area as a national monument, an invite that's more likely to come from local officials rather than the state's federal delegation of lawmakers given that all four have said they would oppose President Barack Obama's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create the national monument.
— Idaho Statesman

Cyclists, wilderness groups agree on Boulder-White Clouds monument

PUBLIC LANDS — Progress!

Groups reach agreement on protecting Idaho area as national monument
The Idaho Conservation League, Wood River Bicycle Coalition, International Mountain Bicycling Association and The Wilderness Society have hammered out a proposal to submit to President Obama on designating the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument in Idaho.
— Idaho Statesman

Would Sawtooths benefit from national monument status?

PUBLIC LANDS — A group that's been a watchdog over the spectacular Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho is wary of elevating the national status of the area.

Sawtooth Society wary about proposed Idaho national monument
The Sawtooth Society has been involved with Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho since 1997, and a new push to put those lands, as well as others into a new Boulder-White Clouds National Monument has the group calling for an all-inclusive examination of just what creating a monument would mean for those lands and the communities adjacent to them.
—Twin Falls Times-News

Possible national monument designations in Idaho resurface

When he was secretary of the Interior under then-President George W. Bush, former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne worked on plans to declare two new national monuments in Idaho - the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains in central Idaho and Mesa Falls in eastern Idaho, reports the Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker, and looked at others as well. Now there's new interest possible monument designations in Idaho, Barker reports, though Congressman Mike Simpson, who long has worked on wilderness legislation for the Boulder-White Clouds, prefers his bill to a presidential designation. Click below for a full report from Barker and the AP.

Outdoor retailers want Obama to designate Utah monument

PUBLIC LANDS — The Outdoor Industry Association and more than 100 outdoor-related businesses are asking President Barack Obama to designate 1.4 million acres of federal wildlands surrounding Canyonlands National Park as a national monument, according to a report by Brett Prettyman of the Salt Lake Tribune.

The group is sending a letter to the president today asking for the protective designation.

The Greater Canyonlands area includes geologic landmarks such as Labyrinth Canyon, Indian Creek, White Canyon, Fiddler Butte, Robbers Roost, Lockhart Basin and the Dirty Devil River, the story says.

The area is under increasing pressure from what monument proponents say is off-road-vehicle abuse, proposed mining and oil and gas development.

The OIA is the retailers group that brings to Utah its annual summer and winter markets, the state’s largest conventions, which draw more than 46,000 visitors and $42.5 million annually to the local economy.

For months OIA has been at odds with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert over the state’s bid to reclaim more than 30 million acres of federally-controlled public lands. If it succeeds, Utah plans to sell or lease some of that land for development.

BLM director tells ranchers: Still no plans for Mont. monument

PUBLIC LANDS — Ranchers continue to cow the federal governement from expanding the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, which eased under the national spotlight in the past two decades along with interest in the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The head of the federal Bureau of Land Management returned to Montana on Monday with a message similar to the one he delivered to ranchers a year ago: No new national monuments.

As part of a tour of rural communities across the West, BLM director Bob Abbey met with about 20 ranchers still upset over the creation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument by former President Bill Clinton more than a decade ago.

Ranchers noted that the monument had not substantially changed their operations, but noted that efforts of environmental groups to curtail grazing on monuments is a constant worry to them.

Read on for details from the Associated Press report.

Finally! Mount St. Helens snow retreats; road opening

PUBLIC LANDS — The seemingly rentless grip of snow on the high country is giving way.

Road No. 25 on the east side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will be open from Pine Creek to Randle by Friday.

Paul Seitz of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest said the snow will be cleared by Thursday, then crews will turn their attention on road No. 99 leading to Windy Ridge.

"We'll start pushing through the 99 by Friday,'' Seitz said. "There is still a lot of snow up there and who knows what kind of damage we’ll find as we work our way in.”

Many secondary roads remain closed by lingering snow.

"In my 21 years on this forest, this is the latest opening we've ever had,'' said Ron Freeman, GPNF public services manager.