By Reader Staff
Pend Oreille Pedalers is the latest local organization to publicly support a Scotchman Peaks wilderness designation.
In a letter addressed to Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the mountain bike club president, Mike Murray wrote, “North Idaho currently has no designated wilderness, and we believe the area is worthy of Congressional designation.”
Sen. Risch introduced legislation to protect the area as wilderness in the waning days of the 114th Congress. Risch is taking time to hear from constituents about the proposal before reintroducing the bill in the 115th session.
The letter acknowledges the fact that mountain bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas, and noted that the area is presently managed as a “recommended wilderness” under the U.S. Forest Service’s land management plan and is therefore, off limits to bikes.
“Even if the area weren’t recommended for wilderness, you wouldn’t see many mountain bikers in the Scotchman Peaks,” said Murray. “The area is simply too steep to ride.”
The executive director of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, Phil Hough welcomed the endorsement. “We greatly appreciate the support of the Pend Oreille Pedalers,” said Hough. “There are many great trails in the Panhandle National Forests where mountain biking is and should be allowed. In the Scotchman Peaks, we believe that wilderness is the highest and best use of the land.”
The proposed wilderness encompasses less than 14,000 acres of national forest lands in Bonner County near Clark Fork.