National Park Service officials are remaining non-committal and even downplaying a proposal to give park status to Craters of the Moon National Monument, but southern Idaho leaders are still pressing their bid for Idaho's first national park.
"We need a national park in Idaho," businesswoman Retha Anderson, owner of Anderson's Camp near Eden, told Park Service officials in Idaho reviewing the proposal."I think it's very important for tourism in the state, and I think the sooner the better," she said.
While several issues were raised during a public meeting with Park Service officials in Burley on Thursday, Nick Cozakos of Craters of the Moon Development Inc. said the region had united behind the designation.
"Let's face it," Burley Mayor Ken Fronk said. "Craters of the Moon is a unique place in this world, not just in the United States and not just in Idaho.
"I think it is unique in the fact that it is very accessible for people to get there, and conceptually I think there is a quite a difference in the terminology," Fronk said. "A national park designation would do a lot for the area."
But while the Park Service will continue its review of the plan, spokesman Doug Cornell said that functionally the only difference between a national park and a national monument, other than the fact that parks are normally larger in size, is the way they are created.
"Basically, there is no difference," he told the leaders from as far west as Mountain Home. "As we look at a park, we try to determine what it is that we want to achieve. At this stage there really is no pat answer to that question," where Craters of the Moon is concerned.
Among potential issues raised during the session were transportation problems, cited by Rupert Mayor Bill Whittom, and livestock management questions brought up by state Rep. Steve Antone, R-Rupert.
"There's one thing that should be taken into consideration," Antone said, "the sheep trails that cut across where the park would be. I think that should be a consideration."