BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Forty-four staffers who worked for U.S. Sen. Frank Church have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to designate a national monument in central Idaho. The letter dated Tuesday notes that the Idaho Democrat worked to preserve much of the state's wild areas during his 24 years in the Senate and that the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is named in his honor. A plan by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho to designate a wilderness in the area has failed for years, though Simpson is working another effort.

Groups dismayed with the lack of results are asking Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create a 592,000-acre national monument that includes the rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains.