Support Idaho’s future by voting ‘in favor’ of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

By Cary Kelly
Reader Contributor

As a Marine Deputy on Lake Pend Oreille for the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years, an avid skier with more than 1,200 days skiing at Schweitzer, and a sailboat owner for eight years, I have spent thousands and thousands of hours enjoying our lakes, rivers, and mountains. The recreational opportunities and the natural beauty of this area are the main reasons my wife and I moved here 25 years ago. While patrolling or sailing the waters of Lake Pend Oreille, I was always in awe of the natural beauty of this place. While many changes have taken place in the past 25 years, one area I would not like to see changed is the Scotchman Peaks area. I’ve come to believe that this area is special and needs wilderness protection in order to pass this natural wonder on to our kids and grandkids.

Cary Kelly.

I first hiked in the Scotchman Peaks area with a neighbor in 2010. I can honestly say that the view down from the high country is just as stunning as the view up from the water. I think I speak for Idaho when we agree that it’s the kind of place we cherish for hiking, hunting, horse-back riding and the like. This area was first identified for possible wilderness in the 1970’s and has been managed that way ever since.

As a Bonner County Commissioner I saw a strong consensus among county residents that wilderness was the best use of this land. Support included not only outdoor enthusiasts, but also those representing economic interests such as the Idaho Forest Group. I received more positive support for this issue than any other during my term as Commissioner. As I recall, only a few negative comments came to me, and those were concerns about bringing more people into the area.

In March 2015, the Bonner County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution of support for Congressional legislation that would safeguard roughly 14,000 acres of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, encompassing Scotchman Peak — 7,009 feet, the highest point in Bonner County. Sen. Risch and his staff supported this vision and in 2016, developed a Scotchman Peaks wilderness proposal that would provide permanent access to traditional Idaho uses like hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, trapping and berry picking. Sen. Risch also directed his staff to hold open houses around the county so that every single one of us could find out more about the legislation that could finally bring lasting protection to an area we all hold so dear.

Now, Bonner County voters have another chance to do their part to preserve the Scotchman Peaks. The current county commissioners have decided to put the question of support to the voters in the primary election on May 15.  Voters will be asked this question: Do you favor Senator Jim Risch’s proposal for congressional designation of a 13,960 acre Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area in Bonner County?

Please join me in voting “In Favor” of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

Cary Kelly is an avid skier, outdoorsman and the former Chairman of the Board of Bonner County Commissioners.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.