Posts tagged: wilderness
PUBLIC LANDS — Two short documentaries about the grassroots effort to secure wilderness status for the Scotchman Peaks northeast of Lake Pend Oreille will be presented Thursday (April 25) at Gonzaga University.
The films and a presentation by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will begin at 7 p.m. at the Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium.
“The Fight for Wilderness in Our Backyard” is one in a series of presentations for the Earth Week activities sponsored by GU students.
The local effort to designate a Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille has been a classy act from the beginning — starting with the founding of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness in 2005.
The effort is revealed in all its home-grown glory in the documentary, Grass Routes: Changing the Conversation.
A second film, “En Plein Air” chronicles the experiences of artists during a five-day trek through the Scotchma Peaks as they capture the natural beauty of the area through their artistic styles.
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is a volunteer-driven group of more than 3,900 supporters from North Idaho and Western Montana working to protect the 88,000-acre Scotchman Peaks roadless area through wilderness designation. The area straddles the borders of Idaho and Montana as well as the boundaries between the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai national forests.
PUBLIC LANDS — The local effort to designate a Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille has been a classy act from the beginning — starting with the founding of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness in 2005.
This week, the effort will be revealed in all its home-grown glory with the debut of the film documentary, Grass Routes: Changing the Conversation.
The 27-minute film will premier on Thursday, 7 p.m., at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint.
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is a volunteer-driven group of more than 3,900 supporters from North Idaho and Western Montana working to protect the 88,000-acre Scotchman Peaks roadless area through wilderness designation. The area straddles the borders of Idaho and Montana as well as the boundaries between the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai national forests
Grass Routes details how the group, knowning the values of wilderness for important assets such as wildlife and water quality, has reached out to address the concerns of everyone involved — including local, state and federal government agencies and politicians, mining companies, timber companies, recreational groups and local residents.
The premier will include a few words by local stakeholders and the filmmakers.
The film will be shown this spring at Gonzaga University, likely at the end of April.
FORESTS – Longstanding proposals to protect rivers and forests in Oregon as wilderness areas have been reintroduced in Congress by Oregon’s two senators.
The bills would expand the Oregon Caves National Monument and Wild Rogue Wilderness in southwestern Oregon, create new wilderness along the John Day River in Central Oregon, and create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness to protect old growth forest in the Coast Range on the Siuslaw National Forest. They also would elevate Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protections for the Chetco River in southwestern Oregon, and the Molalla River south of Portland.
Some of the areas were first proposed for wilderness 30 years ago.
Read on for more details on the current legislation as reported by the Associated Press.
RUNNING RIVERS — My wife and I and a dozen friends in our would-be rafting group feel your pain if you didn't draw a coveted permit to reserve a launch date for one of Idaho's four famous wilderness whitewater rivers.
We bombed, too.
The competition is stiff for the annual drawing to run the Salmon, Middle Fork, Selway or Hells Canyon of the Snake. But it's funny how some groups never get drawn and others seem to luck out and draw a permit every year.
Everyone who applied this year has received a query from the Forest Service, which is considering a weighted lottery for river permits roughly similar to that used in most states for issuing hunting permits. In other words, every time you apply and don't get selected, you gain chances that give you better odds in the next year's drawing.
It' a good idea? If you have a stake in this, read these details from the Forest Service and email them your thoughts.
North Idaho outdoorsman Todd Hoffman said he's already replied the Salmon-Challis National Forest with these suggestions for a weighted lottery:
- Cap preference points to five.
- Limit trips to one per person per year.
- Allow pooling of applications and preference points.
- Set preference points to zero for any one who draws a permit or who participates in another permit holders trip.
- Release any unused commercial launches to private boaters.
- Create an online follow up lottery for cancellations.
- Implement smaller caps for trip sizes, but create more launches.
Top recent outdoors-related stories in The Spokesman-Review include:
WILDERNESS — Outfitters outraged about the disastrous condition of unmaintained trails in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness got a hearing Thursday in the Idaho Legislature.
Result: State lawmakers want U.S. Forest Service officials to make trail repair a priority in the vast backcountry for increased access and safety. See the story.
WILDERNESS — Horse packers fed up with the lack of trail maintenance and the frequency of wildfire in Idaho’s largest wilderness area are asking legislators to declare it a natural resource disaster area. The Idaho Legislature is likely to discuss a resolution on this issue on Thursday, reports Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.
House Joint Memorial No. 1 seeks disaster status for the pristine Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. Sponsored by Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis and Rep. Marcus Gibbs of Grace — and authored by the Salmon Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Idaho — the resolution represents a shot across the bow of the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the 2.3 million-acre area in the mountainous heart of the state.
Click “continue reading” for more details from Barkers report.
Here's a sampling of the top outdoors stories in the S-R from the past few days:
RIVER RUNNING — Whitewater boaters are putting in their names before the Jan. 31 deadline for drawing dates to run Idaho's famous wilderness whitewater rivers, including the Selway, Hells Canyon of the Snake, Salmon and Middle Fork Salmon.
Of course, rivers change on their own each year from natural forces, but Middle Fork rafters will see nifty improvement.
The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation partnered with the U.S. Forest Service in September to recronstruct the Middle Fork's Indian Creek boat ramp.The previous ramp constructed in 2006 fell victim to exposure and wood rot after supporting countless rafts on the 75-foot descent from the public air strip to the river.
More than 10,000 people float the iconic Middle Fork each year, and a large number of those users choose to fly into Indian Creek and use the boat ramp to launch when the water is either high or low. The ramp is also an integral component for outfitters who fly clients in for trips.
The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation recruited ten volunteers from Idaho, Montana and Colorado to replace the ramp in its entirety, effectively installing a new boat ramp. The work consisted of manually deconstructing and hauling the old ramp to an off-site location, then reinstalling each new step and slide log by hand.
About12,000 pounds of timber was moved by hand during the demolition and reinstallation.
Read on for more details.
WINTER SPORTS — Tracking critters with a naturalist, studying winter ecology and a ladies-only snowshoe trek into an ancient cedar grove are among a dozen outings the public can join in a winter trip series led by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
The annual outing series in the proposed wilderness area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille starts Sunday with a snowshoe walk up the Lightning Creek Road to the Regal Creek Trail.
Some of the trips are easy, some are quite challenging.
Pre-registration is required.
MOUNTAINS — The Cabinet Mountains near Libby, Mont., were beaming in all their glory Tuesday.
“This is the Bull River, near the giant cedars, with Ibex and Little Ibex peaks in the background,” said Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
He was out for a little fresh air, and it looks as though he found it — along with some clouds rather than plumes from fires.
“I’m hoping the smoke is on the way out,” he said. “I’m tired of the smoke.”
PUBLIC LANDS — The Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Idaho Snowmobile Association filed a lawsuit against the Clearwater National Forest for its travel plan that bans motorcycles, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and mountain bikes in the Great Burn wilderness study area on the Idaho-Montana border, according to a story by the Idaho Statesman.
“Only Congress can designate wilderness. We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands.”
—Sandra Mitchell, public lands director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association.
“I see this as full frontal assault on wilderness. They are making essentially the argument that the Forest Service doesn’t have the power to protect wilderness character as a multiple use of public lands”
—Brad Brooks, deputy regional director of the Wilderness Society in Boise.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Trail ride wrangler Erin Bolster and her famous steed, Tonk, were greeting fans at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula last week to celebrate the 1st anniversary of their heroic encounter with a grizzly bear.
Bolster and Tonk rode into the national spotlight after repeatedly charging a grizzly that had burst into a trail ride Bolster was leading near Glacier National Park. As the bear chased a horse carrying a terrified 8-year-old boy through the timber, Bolster was able to get Tonk to overcome fleeing instincts and charge the grizzly into submission.
My story about the encounter last summer swept across the nation and landed Bolster — Tonk, too! — in New York for Late Night with David Letterman.
Bolster said she's met a lot of people and had many career opportunities because of the favorable response to the fame she and Tonk have garnered.
This summer, however, she's been living mostly in a tent near the Flathead National Forest, leading trail rides for the flood of people young and old who've booked trips in anticipation of touching the horse flesh of a hero.
PUBLIC LANDS — On July 31, Ben Laster, 29, of Kalispell reported ran 75 miles north to south across Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness in 15 hours.
Apparently the run was not aided by wind, the heat from forest fires or from grizzly bears chasing his butt up the trails.
According to a story in the Kalispell Daily Interlake, Laster ran from the Meadow Creek Gorge to the North Fork Blackfoot River trailhead.
“I never stopped for more than five minutes. It was pretty much 15 hours of running,” Laster said. “I was feeling kind of rough at the end. But not as bad as I thought I would be feeling.”
Laster works as a wilderness instructor for the Wilderness Treatment Center, which counsels troubled youths by exposing them to outdoor experiences.
He left the Meadow Creek Gorge at 4:30 a.m., running with a headlamp, a light wind jacket, electrolyte fluids to mix with his water, about 3,500 calories in Hammer Nutrition gels and nutrition bars, a lighter and extra socks.
His father was waiting for him at the trailhead with specific instructions not to seek help unless Laster failed to show up by 10 a.m. the next day.
“I knew there was a strong possibility that I might spend the night out there,” he said.
He arrived at the trailhead at 7:30 p.m., a couple hours later then he'd estimated if the run went smoothly.
“I could have done it in 14 hours if it hadn’t been so hot,” he told the Interlake.
PUBLIC LANDS —The outdoor recreation industry is flexing its economic muscle—some $640 billion spent annually by Americans on gear, travel and services—to push for wilderness protection in Utah, threatening to pull a lucrative biannual trade show if the state doesn't change course on environmental issues.
According to a story in the Denver Post, the industry last week gave Utah's governor an ultimatum: give up on a threat to take over federal land in the state or risk losing the Outdoor Retailer outdoor gear show that draws thousands of visitors and injects more than $40 million yearly into the state economy.
The outdoor industry and related services represent a sizeable chunk of Utah's income—roughly $4 billion a year, or 5 percent of the state's gross product, the Post article says.
It's not the first time the 4,000-member-strong Outdoor Industry Association has threatened to take its business elsewhere.
WILDLIFE — The deaths of four wolves and six eagles in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana are being investigagted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the US Forest Service and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Although officials just announced the investigation, the wolves and eagles were found in the vicinity of the Big Prairie Ranger Station in early May.
Recent lab results have confirmed that the wolves and eagles died as a result of poisoning.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of the wolves and eagles.
Contact: Rick Branzell, (406) 329-3000.
RIVER SAFETY — The number of drownings in the region's rivers this year has prompted a local campaign to get people thinking about reasonable safety practices.
Most of the victims would be alive today had they been wearing life jackets.
Perhaps the most incredible drowning story of the season involves the University of Idaho Student from Nepal who died of drowning last weekend during a rafting trip on the Selway River.
The Selway is a wilderness river, one of the wildest in the region. Just getting a permit to float the river requires a lot of luck in a draw and a safety orientation.
You could watch a thousand rafters or kayakers go past you on that river over the course of a season and not see a single person without a PFD while on the river.
Life jackets are part of the attire on the Selway, just as rodeo cowboys wear jeans.
Wow. What can you say?
ENVIRONMENT — Can we expect a “Sportsmen's Act” introduced in Congress to actually be in the best interest of hunters and anglers?
A Missoulian opinion columnist is skeptical in this column.
“Those who watch Congress have surely noticed an alarming trend of putting misleading titles on bills and policies that actually do the opposite of what they say,” writes George Ochenski.
President Bush’s “Healthy Forests Initiative” provided ways to clearcut national forests without environmental review or public oversight. Likewise, Bush’s “Clean Skies” legislation made it easier for corporations to pollute. The USA PATRIOT Act has nothing to do with patriots and everything to do with spying on citizens. And now we have H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 that, in reality, would undercut the 1964 Wilderness Act and destroy what remains of the nation’s once-great natural heritage.
OUTBOUND – Spokane hiker-biker Derrick Knowles is proposing formal adoption of a 1,500-mile trail linking routes in a loop through prized wild areas of Washington, Idaho and Montana.
The Inland Northwest Trail would range from the Selkirk Mountains to Hells Canyon and lead through six national forests and at least four wilderness areas.
It would include the Spokane River Centennial Trail and Columbia Plateau Trail as well as scenic trails along the St. Joe and Selway rivers.
Knowles says the route, which he’s been researching the route since 2007, would require about four months to complete, but could be done in segments.
Details on the route will be presented Monday, 7 p.m., at the Mountain Gear corporate office, 6021 Mansfield in Spokane Valley.
BACKPACKING — The U.S. Forest Service says it’s changing from a voluntary permit system to requiring permits in the popular Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in western Montana.
Wilderness rangers say a growing number of visitors to the area have been ignoring filling out voluntary permits and disregarding warnings about backcountry abuse.
Forest Service spokesman Brandan Schulze says the permits will give the agency an idea of trends in the area so actions can be taken to minimize impacts on the wilderness.
Schulze tells the Missoulian it’s also a way to inform visitors about leave-no-trace principles.
As part of the change rangers will start checking hikers for completed permits. Fines for failing to have a permit range up to $75.