Opinion » Note

Showing Both Sides of the Boulder-White Clouds Debate

In praise of unpopularity (mostly)

by

A few weeks ago, I was having drinks with a friend who works with various state and national conservation groups. He suddenly got serious, leveled his eyes at me and asked, basically, why Boise Weekly hates the Boulder-White Clouds.

For the record, BW does not hate the Boulder and White Cloud mountains. BW has printed many stories about the area, and specifically about the effort/movement/politico-economic obsession to designate the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument. At the same time, BW columnist John Rember--a lifelong resident of the BWC area and former wilderness worker there--has had much to say about the proposed designation. That he's skeptical of the rationale is putting it mildly.

To some, publishing Rember's arguments against the monument is heresy--how could we betray something held so dear by Idaho Democrats? No less than former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus has thrown the full weight of his legacy behind getting the designation, and as recently as this year, the Boulder-White Clouds were anointed by the ashes of Bethine Church, widow of the late-U.S. Sen. Frank Church and grand dame of the Idaho Democratic Party, with the announcement that seeing them as a national monument was her dying wish.

BW doesn't endorse candidates, just as it rarely endorses legislation. Our articles often contain criticism of candidates, lawmakers and their laws, but it's our job to be skeptics and to air the perspectives of all sides of an issue. We've done that with the Boulder-White Clouds, with Rember's columns against the monument, with letters to the editor and guest editorials arguing otherwise, and by hosting comments--some more nuanced than others--on the debate at boiseweekly.com.

Idaho has no oil and no coal. Its gold and silver mines have been heavily exploited. Its education system ranks at or near the bottom nationally. It's wages are abysmal and, according to a recent poll, we have the rudest drivers in the country. We have precious little to recommend Idaho other than the state itself--that is to say, its landscape. How we manage that resource is of vital importance, and establishing that management depends on the discussion preceding it, no matter how unpopular or inconvenient it turns out to be.

Speaking of popularity, next week's edition of Boise Weekly will consist of nothing but our annual, much anticipated popularity contest: Best of Boise. Get your copy on stands Wednesday, Sept. 24.