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Local group joins Minidoka, CAFO battle

By Larry Meyer - Argus Observer
Edition Date: 09/22/07

PAYETTE - A group of local people will hop on a bus and journey to Jerome County for a public hearing Tuesday in an effort to oppose the construction of a large dairy near the site of the Minidoka Internment National Monument in south central Idaho.

The Minidoka camp is where many Japanese-Americans were held during the World War II, including many who later settled in the Treasure Valley area, and it has been named as a National Historic Site.

Plans call for a replica of the original camp to be built at the site.

However, a 13,000-head confined animal feeding operation has been proposed for a location a little more than a mile from the monument.

Organizing the local opposition effort is Barbara Wilson, Payette, a board member of Preservation Idaho — the Idaho Historic Preservation Council.

“We don’t care about the cows. We don’t want (the CAFO) this close the monument,” Wilson said. “The County Commissioners are about to the make their final decision.”

The hearing is set from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. Wilson said a charter bus will leave Ontario at noon Tuesday from the Four Rivers Cultural Center and return that evening. Refreshments will be served. For reservations call her at (208) 642-4748.

The Jerome County Commissioners have issued a limited number of pre-hearing letters to those property owners within one mile of the proposed site.

Those outside of a mile of the site may offer four minutes of spoken testimony and one page of written testimony at the hearing, or present two pages of written, with no oral testimony.

“We’re not against cattle operations,” Wilson said, adding she believes a large operation within about a mile of the monument would be a detriment to the site.

In a lengthy statement naming the Minidoka Internment National Monument in Idaho as one of American’s 11 most endangered historic places, the National Trust for Historic Preservation said, “A CAFO of this magnitude would have dramatic adverse effect on the monument and seriously degrade the visitor experience by introducing strong and offensive odors, flies, and other insects. Other risks to the site and visitors include airborne pathogens and dust.”

The preservation organization said there are other developments or proposed developments that threaten the site.