The Forest Service developed its proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness by engaging the public in an open, transparent process, and the resulting recommendations are ones that I have long supported. This May 15, Bonner County voters will be asked if this area should be designated by Congress as wilderness. I believe it should.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 creates a National Wilderness Preservation system that will be managed naturally, without intervention. These places remain open to those who wish to hike, fish and hunt. It says that mankind is a visitor only. Fire occurs naturally across both managed landscapes as well as wilderness areas. The Forest Service can, and does, fight fires in both.
Designation would not take the land away from the public. This area has been, and will remain, under the management of the Forest Service. Local residents and elected officials have a seat at the table to discuss and refine the current and future management plans. Designation simply protects this land in its natural state. I have always believed that there is a place in life for just about anything and everything, but not every place is for everything man wants to do.
As a former county commissioner, I sat on multiple committees and boards reviewing and analyzing many of the management plans proposed by the Forest Service. I noticed that often the voices that were the loudest were those who wanted motor vehicle access in remote and largely inaccessible terrain. While I support those who enjoy that type of adventure, I had to also represent the constituency who preferred a different type of recreation, one that did not include vehicular traffic.
There is a place for every lifestyle and recreation. Can we respect that our choices may differ, but our common goals are to keep Idaho and her beauty protected? Scotchman Peaks is a place to protect in its raw beauty! I hope that you will vote to protect this pristine area and not let fear and hysteria sway you. Vote on May 15 in favor of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness designation!