ST. MARIES, Idaho – A group of survivalists wants to build a giant walled fortress in the woods of the Idaho Panhandle, a medieval-style city where residents would be required to own weapons and stand ready to defend the compound if society collapses.
The proposal is called the Citadel and has created a buzz among folks in this remote logging town 70 miles southeast of Spokane, Wash.
The project would more than double the population of Benewah County, home to 9,000 souls.
Locals have many questions, but organizers so far are pointing only to a website billing the Citadel as A Community of Liberty.
There is no leader, Christian Kerodin, a convicted felon who is a promoter of the project, wrote in a brief email to The Associated Press. There is a significant group of equals involved each bringing their own professional skills and life experiences to the group.
It is very much a grass-roots’ endeavor, Kerodin wrote, declining to provide any additional details.
Such communities are hardly new, especially in northern Idaho, which has long been a magnet for those looking to shun mainstream society.
For three decades, the Aryan Nations operated a compound about an hour north of here before the group went bankrupt and the land was sold.
The number of so-called patriot groups has grown since President Obama was first elected, and the renewed debate over gun control is further deepening resentment of the federal government among such factions, said Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The SPLC tracks such groups.
Nevertheless, Potok noted, plans for these sorts of communities rarely come to fruition.
The people behind the Citadel are like 12-year-old boys talking about the tree house, or the secret underground city, they’re going to build some day, Potok said.
The website shows drawings of a stone fortress with room inside for up to 7,000 families. The compound would include houses, schools, a hotel and a firearms factory and museum.
The gun factory, the website said, would manufacture semi-automatic pistols and AR-15 rifles – which would be illegal if Congress reinstated the 1994 ban on assault weapons.
No construction has begun. Kerodin filed papers with the Idaho Secretary of State in November for a company called Citadel Land Development.