A Boise State University instructor says Idaho deserves a national park of its own. And he suggests as many as four sites are suitable for national park status, with Craters of the Moon National Monument at the top of the list.
John Freemuth, who teaches political science and was once a National Park Service ranger, wrote "Islands under Siege - National Parks and the Politics of External Threats," in which he discusses park problems and evaluates political strategies used to combat the threats.Freemuth said Wyoming is known for Yellowstone, Montana for Glacier, California for Yosemite and Arizona for the Grand Canyon. But Idaho, he said, is known mostly for potatoes.
Idaho shouldn't be content with only a sliver of Yellowstone on its eastern border with Wyoming, Freemuth said.
"National parks are an American invention," he said. "They've been copied all over the world."
He said Idaho residents may have conflicting ideas about the benefits of a national park in their back yard.
"They'd like to visit but would be afraid of getting overrun with too many people," he said. "It's going to happen anyway."
Freemuth thinks Craters of the Moon National Monument has a good chance of becoming Idaho's first national park.
Located east of Boise on the Snake River Plain between Carey and Arco, the monument displays a series of eruptions that threw cinders and rocks from the Great Rift in the Earth's crust more than 2,000 years ago.
"Ranching and hunting concerns have to be addressed," Freemuth said. "I think they can be if people get together."
Freemuth spoke of Craters of the Moon air as the "cleanest in Idaho when it comes to visibility" and "up with central Utah, the Grand Canyon and northern Nevada for cleanest in the country."
Freemuth said other Idaho areas that could be made in national parks are Hell's Canyon, the Sawtooths and possibly the Owyhee Canyonland. But opposition would be strong, he said.