Give thanks for the wild Scotchman Peaks

By Phil Hough
Reader Contributor

As we gather with family and friends this week and count our blessings, let’s remember to give thanks for the wild landscapes that we live nearby. Although we may look differently at these natural landscapes and what they represent, in our area we all share a common connection to the world outside our doors and windows.

Uber hiker and volunteer Jim Mellen – who turned 69 last week and, according to the author, “will hike the socks off most anyone” – hikes among the bear grass. Photo by John Harbuck, who, according to the author, “is over 70 and is one of the few who can keep up with Jim.”

We should be thankful for the actions of those who came before us. The choices they made ensured these places would still be wild today. We are hopeful that the actions we take today will ensure they remain wild tomorrow.

Special places like the Scotchman Peaks remain wild, and for that, I give thanks. These wild landscapes have much to teach us.  As Henry David Thoreau wrote: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  We need wild landscapes, like the Scotchman Peaks, to learn what nature has to teach.

I am grateful, too, for the many people (over 150 individual in the last year alone) who have volunteered time as advocates or stewards to help preserve the wild character of the Scotchman Peaks. They have contributed many hours to making sure that future generations will be able to enjoy this wild landscape in much the same we as we do today.

On behalf of many (over 7,500) friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, I want to thank Sen. Jim Risch for introducing the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness act last December and for engaging the public on this important issue throughout the year. The Friends are thankful for the many people from diverse backgrounds and interests who have demonstrated their supported for this action.

Broad public support from diverse stakeholders brings about community consensus and lays the foundation for good public lands policy. The Scotchman Peaks have garnered support from many corners. Supporters come from very diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Wilderness designation for the Scotchman Peaks is endorsed by many businesses, civic groups, conservation and wildlife groups, as well as community organizations, recreational groups and other stakeholders in public lands management.

But, broad community support does not mean there is complete unanimity. On important issues, there will always be diverse opinions. We are thankful for them as well. By listening and responding to diverse viewpoints, questions and concerns, misunderstandings can be cleared up. Different perspectives may also improve forest service management, public policy and improve legislation.

Using public comments, engagement, input and diverse opinions to refine agency actions and legislation are hallmarks of our democratic legislative process. It is a process that enshrines public involvement and community input, one by which we the people come together. Not only does legislation improve, but we also come to value our differences, and we come together as a community. For that, we are thankful.

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