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BOISE -- Backers of creating a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument are pointing to a new study that suggests protecting the area would boost local economies.

The Boulder-White Clouds area includes parts of Blaine, Butte, Camas and Custer counties.

Three years ago, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson introduced a bill that would have created a wilderness and opened other parts of the area to multiple uses. It didn't go through.

Now, a sportsmen's group is among those hoping that President Obama will declare a national monument, which would keep the area from being developed, mined or logged, but also would be less restrictive than a wilderness.

Don Reading, the economist who did a study commissioned by the Idaho Outdoor Business Council, estimates it would bring between 50 and 150 new jobs to the area.

The economic impact will be positive and meaningful for the rural area, Reading said. But the area wouldn't be slammed, overwhelmed with visitors, again, because it has such a large protected area and existing visitor base.

A portion of the proposed monument area is already protected as part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Critics of the monument proposal have told us they want to know exactly what would change and when.

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