Despite pushback from the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure calling for the state’s congressional delegation to press for national park status for the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
“Our congressional delegation told us, ‘Before we go forward with this, we want to make sure that the state is behind this.’ They don’t need our approval; they could take this and go with it. But they really want to make sure there’s local support,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), sponsor of Senate Joint Memorial 101. “We’ve got some communities over there that are struggling and the water concerns are a nightmare. Some of the local folks are trying everything possible to help their community.”
The Farm Bureau argued that re-designating the Craters to a national park might restrict area farmers from hauling hay, cattle or sheep on highways that run through the monument.
Siddoway reminded his fellow lawmakers that, in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the title of U.S. Highway 20/26 to the state of Idaho.
“The highway belongs to the state, not the Park Service and that’s the way it would stay,” he said, adding that some businesses had already expressed interest in building new campgrounds, hotels or restaurants in the area if there were to be a national park designation.
“It’s not a panacea, but it would bring some economic stability to the area,” Siddoway said.
The bill passed on a 20-13 vote and moves to the Idaho House for its consideration.