By Ed Robinson
The Scotchman Peaks is a magical place. Having worked in the forests of the Idaho Panhandle for 35 years, I don’t say that lightly. This is also not news to anyone who has explored even a small part of this awe-inspiring landscape. From the top of wild and rugged peaks the panoramic views extend in all directions. Deep and steep valleys hold hidden waterfalls. The wonders of this area inspire all who visit. Few places remain as wild as the Scotchmans.
That’s why more than 10,000 people have become friends in support of keeping the Scotchman Peaks wild. They want to make sure the Scotchmans stay open for our kids and grandkids to find their own special wild place. They want to make sure mountain goats, wolverines and grizzly bears can still roam free in our wild backyard. They want to keep North Idaho and northwest Montana rugged and wild.
The 4.5 million acres of the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests have plenty of room for many uses. There are places for mining, timber production, forest restoration, grazing and wildlife habitat. There is room for motorized recreation, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, hiking and wilderness. However, not every use is advisable in every area — some areas are best suited for certain activities. Designating the Scotchmans as wilderness is the best use for the 88,000-acre Scotchman Peaks area.
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is working alongside snowmobilers, industry groups and other community stakeholders to come to an agreement on how to manage our public lands. We are active members of the Panhandle Forest Collaborative and the Kootenai Forest Stakeholders. We are part of an emerging collaborative to develop winter travel plans for snowmobiles.
From the early 1970s, when the Forest Service began its first “Roadless Area Review and Evaluation,” to the development of forest management plans in 1987 and the current revised plan in 2015, the Forest Service has consistently recommended the Scotchman Peaks for wilderness. During all this time, locals from Idaho and Montana have called for it to become designated wilderness. Folks from all backgrounds love the Scotchmans. Hunters, horsemen, hikers, miners, millers and others believe the Scotchmans are worth saving.
In the end, what matters most is not the planning of the past, but the actions we take for the future. The Forest Service and Congress should act so that the Scotchman Peaks will remain wilderness for future generations.
I’d like our grandkids to grow up and explore lush cedar forests. I want them to hike summits and hunt in the backcountry. I want them to be able to find a place where wildlife can still roam free. I want them to find that wilderness right here in our backyard.
Ed Robinson worked as a forester on the Idaho Panhandle for 35 years for the Idaho Department of Lands, retiring as area manager. Ed is a board member of Friends of the Scotcham Peaks Wilderness.
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