I listened to the Jan. 10 KRFY morning program, during which they hosted county commissioner Dan McDonald. The bulk of the discussion was about the Bonner County Natural Resource Plan, to which I listened with interest, but when the discussion moved to the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, I was somewhat alarmed at the mis-information given by Commissioner McDonald.
Considering the commissioners just voted to place the wilderness proposal on the ballot in May, and in light of how many years this proposal has been under discussion, I assumed that Commissioner McDonald would have done his homework before being interviewed on the radio. (I really would have hoped he had done the necessary research on this before proposing a ballot vote, as this costs tax payers money and everyone time).
The most egregious remark made by the commissioner was regarding the number of people allowed on the trail at one time. His statement was: there is a limit to 12 heartbeats on the trail at a time (and by heartbeat he is including dogs). He went on to say, so if it takes on average four to five hours to hike the trail, then “only 12 people can literally use it in a day.” This is blatantly incorrect.
Nowhere in this wilderness proposal is there any limit to the number of people that can be on the trail at one time. It is true that in any wilderness there are possible restrictions on the size of the party that can start as a cohesive group (usually between 8-12 heart beats, and in some places livestock are included as heart beats, and sometimes dogs are considered livestock) but there can be any number of groups hiking the trail at the same time.
I find it frustrating that one of the heads of our county does not seem to care enough to gather accurate information on what now has been deemed a critical issue for our county (critical enough to warrant a ballot), and I hope he re-evaluates some of his statements and issues a correction.