In carefully following the discussion on the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness designation, I have observed differences of opinion and also some confusion about the core facts. In my younger years, I had six different Forest Service (USFS) jobs, including working at Panhandle National Forests and in wilderness areas.
Here are some core facts:
Scotchman Peaks is already managed as a roadless area due to its very rugged terrain. The proposed wilderness designation will only verify, in a more official manner, what is already the long-term management strategy for the area. The USFS manages the area now and would manage the future wilderness area too; hence no federal takeover will occur, as I have heard folks claim. Currently, the area supports access to hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, berry picking and horse packing. Search and rescue access by motorized vehicle and helicopter would be permitted. State of Idaho support for healthy fish and wildlife populations and USFS management for fire, insects and disease are already in place for the roadless area and would not change under an official wilderness designation. The Forest Service can and does fight fires in wilderness areas.
As a fifth-generation Idahoan, I was born in Sandpoint and my natal home is Clark Fork, where my grandparents and parents lived. As a young boy, I learned to fish and hike on Morris and Lightning creeks with my father, who also fished and hunted the area as a young man. It is an honor to speak on behalf of preserving this iconic area and to recommend, without reservation, support for establishing the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area.
Sites such as these are not just a valued local resource, but also represent a singular national heritage and patrimony. In the U.S., there is no other designation that so effectively says this area is unique and deserves to be singled out. It is a respected special place that would remain relatively undeveloped to support its natural, scenic, cultural and recreation values for generations to come.
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