Prior to my retirement, I spent my career working as a forester for the Idaho Department of Lands managing state endowment lands, selling millions of board feet of timber to make millions of dollars for public education. I am therefore, a strong supporter of resource use. However, some special places deserve to remain undisturbed. The proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is such a place.
Some of what has been said about the proposal is misleading or wrong. For example, this is not a federal land grab; the proposed area has been National Forest land since the Panhandle National Forests were created over 100 years ago. The issue at hand is whether this area should be protected in perpetuity as wilderness. For the record, that is not a new idea. The area was proposed for wilderness designation in the local forest plan in 1987.
So why wilderness? Beyond the quiet, solitude, and natural beauty, wilderness is a place that challenges. You have to get there under your own power. And once you are there you have to survive under its terms, without the aid of the internal combustion engine. It is difficult — that’s part of the point. It is important to preserve some places like that so future generations have a chance to challenge themselves in such a wild setting. We have the chance to preserve a fantastic landscape for future generations in a largely untrammeled state right in our own backyard.
I have had the good fortune to spend a fair amount of time in the Scotchmans. It is some of the most difficult country I have ever wandered through, especially if you travel off-trail. I know at some point I will be too old to do that anymore, but I certainly will not begrudge those that can. I will be glad that the quiet, beauty and challenge of wilderness is available to them.
If it were not for a few forward-looking individuals over the last 140 years we would not have national parks, monuments, wildlife preserves and wilderness areas. I feel so grateful to those people every time I visit one of those special places. Be one of them. Please show your support for the proposal by voting “In Favor” on the ballot initiative on May 15, 2018.