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Scotchman Peaks group plans hikes, trail work

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness are launching another ambitious season of guided hikes, outings, trail work — along with gentle advocacy for securing wilderness designation for a little piece of heaven northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

The group's newsletter, Peak Experiencelists a number of upcoming attractions, starting in Sandpoint with the May 28  State of the Scotchmans program — always a worthwhile gathering. Guest speaker this year is Doug Scott, who was involved with writing the original 1974 Wilderness Act. He'll be speaking on the role of grass roots advocacy — how wilderness gets done.

The Scotchmans group is scheduling a long list of hikes for the season to acquaint people with portions of 88,000-acre proposed wilderness area.

New this year are Field Day Fridays, geared to doing something fun, educational and meaningful outside every Friday from June 12 through Sept. 25.

The biggest trail news is the impending start of rebuilding the lower mile of Trail #65 on Scotchman Peak, the most popular day-hiking destination in the area.

Consider lending a hand.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness endorsed by Missoulian

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness recently won a critical endorsement for protecting 88,000 acres northeast of Lake Pend Oreille from Bonner County Commissioners.

Last weekend, the group continued to win mainstream acceptance for the proposal, with the editorial endorsement of the Missoulian:

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area should be next on Montana's agenda
Of all the wilderness proposals under consideration in Montana, the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area, which spans 88,000 acres of a roadless area on the Montana-Idaho border, is the one that appears to enjoy widespread support. Montana's federal lawmakers should work with their counterparts in Idaho to craft legislation to designate the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
—Missoulian

Scotchman Peaks’ brewing support, time to toast

PUBLIC LANDS — You know you've arrived when someone names a brew in your honor.

MickDuff's Brewing Company's new Goat Hope Ale is debuting in honor of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and the group's efforts to protect an 88,000-acre wild area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.  The suds are named for the mountain goats that often great hikers who make the trek to the summit of Scotchman Peak.

Last month, the Scotchman's wilderness proposal was endorsed by the Bonner County Commission.

Now it's time to tap into the party on Thursday, April 9, starting at 5:30 p.m. at MickDuff's, Third and Cedar in Sandpoint.

Live music and one handcrafted keg of extra-hoppy, golden-pale ale will be available through 8:30; proceeds from all pints of Goat Hop Ale will go directly toward working for wilderness.

Check in regularly with the FSPW to join them on hikes, trail work days, kids outings and education days throughout the year.

Bonner County commissioners endorse Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

Updated 5 p.m. with quotes and more detail.

PUBLIC LANDS — Bonner County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the U.S. Congress to designate the Idaho portion of the Scotchman Peaks as a wilderness.

This is another milestone in an effort to protect a worthy spread of  mountain real estate northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

“The Scotchmans is a perfect area for wilderness,” said Cary Kelly, chairman of the three-man board.

“There’s not a lot of timber that could be used because of the soil composition and terrain and no big mining interests. There’s not really any opposition other than from the element that doesn’t want any federal rules on our forests.”

The entire 88,000-acre wilderness area proposal straddles the Idaho-Montana border in the Kaniksu and Kootenai national forests.

The steep, rocky, mountainous area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille has been recommended for wilderness by Forest Service management plans that were debated for more than a decade and approved in January.

The Idaho side of the proposed wilderness area encompasses about 14,000 acres of national forest land, including Bonner County's tallest mountain. Scotchman Peak, elevation 7,009 feet, is a popular hiking and mountain goat viewing destination overlooking Clark Fork.

“It’s one of the few areas that commissioners can support as wilderness,” Kelly said. “It’s kind of the exception to the rule.”  

The Sandpoint-based Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness was founded in 2005 to work with the region's communities, elected officials and outdoors enthusiasts to find common ground for protecting the roadless area.

“We appreciate the leadership and support from the Bonner County Commission,” said Phil Hough, the friends group’s executive director.

Individual commissioners in adjoining Sanders County, Montana, have shown support for the wilderness, he said. Other formal endorsements have been approved by the Sandpoint City Council and Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce as well as the current and former Montana governors, he said.

“For a county commission to offer unanimous support for wilderness, while not unheard of, is pretty unusual,” Hough said. “It’s a reflection of the widespread support for the wilderness among residents of Bonner County and around the region.”

Kelly said the Bonner County board has supported the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness proposal since 2006, but the time was ripe for a formal endorsement.

 “Only Congress can designate wilderness, and the (friends) group is trying to move forward with the proposal in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

“Most attempts at declaring wilderness probably are not very popular with a Republican conservative House and Senate. But we’re looking at the exception to the rule and the commission is urging Idaho congressmen and senators to try to support this proposal.”

Brad Smith, North Idaho conservation association with the Idaho Conservation League, was at the meeting and reported the vote on his ICL blog.  Smith posted the following resolution approved by the board of commissioners:

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks provide outstanding views and recreational opportunities to residents and visitors of Bonner County, Idaho; and

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks contribute to the economic vitality of the region through recreation, tourism and as an attraction which draws individuals and businesses to our area; and

WHEREAS the Scotchman Peaks provide habitat to a diversity of native flora and fauna; and

WHEREAS there is broad public support amongst residents of Bonner County to protect the Scotchman Peaks; and

WHEREAS protecting the Scotchman Peaks will benefit current and future generations of Bonner County by endowing them with an enduring resource of wilderness.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Bonner County Board of Commissioners call upon the United States Congress to enact legislation designating the Idaho portion of the Scotchman Peaks as a wilderness area, consistent with the boundary delineated in the revised Land Management Plan for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness group optimistic, plans activities

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness based in North Idaho and Western Montana is celebrating the group's 10th anniversary on a high note this month. 

Recent passage of the Montana Heritage Act indicates that Congress is able — and even somewhat willing — to designate Wilderness, says FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton.

The group has not yet succeeded in winning official wilderness designation for the 88,000-acre roadless area that straddles the Idaho-Montana border. But since the group was founded in 2005, it's attracted nearly 5,000 "friends," Compton said.

“Our new commission in Bonner County is very supportive,” said FSPW executive director Phil Hough, who's based in Sandpoint. “We’ve worked hard in our two Western Montana counties to gain support in a number of ways, including opening an office in Libby and helping create the Lincoln County Prosperity Forum Series."

  • The 10th anniversary celebration will begin in Sandpoint, Friday, Jan. 9, with live music, silent-auction and picnic-style food at Tango Café in the Columbia Bank. Get tickets here.
  • The FSPW  schedule of winter group hikes begins on Jan. 11 with an easy-to-moderate snowshoe trek up Lightning Creek.
  • March events in Troy and Thompson Falls will feature author and historian Jack Nisbet speaking on David Thompson’s explorations of the Kootenai and Clark Fork valleys in the early 1800s.

Stewardship has joined wilderness advocacy in the group's approach to securing protection for the peaks that overlook Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River. 

FSPW volunteers and staff have contributed hundreds of hours of work to:

  • Build or improve Scotchman Peak Trail 65 and Star Peak Trail 999.
  • Monitor weeds, conduct multi-day white bark pine surveys, work on stream restoration and assist with trailside tree planting for the national forest “Treasured Landscape” program.
  • Coordinate summer hike programs for adults as well as for young children.
  • Assist wolverine researchers by setting and monitoring remote camera stations in Idaho and Montana.
  • Create a Winter Tracks program to teach tracking skills and wildlife monitoring methods to area youth, including kids from Spokane.
  • Plan summer 2015 trail projects on the lower portion of the Scotchman Peak Trail and continue to work on trails in Lightning Creek.

Three-day festival near Libby celebrates wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS — A Blackfeet Tribe troubadour and a former chief of the U.S. Forest Service are coming to the Inland Northwest to be part of a three-day event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

An impressive mix of wilderness and wildlife experts plus entertainment and educational programs are scheduled Friday through Sunday, July 11-13, at the Bull River Rod and Gun Club at Bull Lake on State Highway 56 south of Troy and Libby, Montana.

The setting couldn’t be more symbolic. Bull Lake is in a valley between the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness:

The Cabinet Wilderness was among the original 54 wilderness areas designated when Congress enacted the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The Scotchman Peaks wilderness proposal, which straddles the Idaho-Montana border, is the region’s most likely candidate for wilderness designation should the next Congress consider a wilderness bill.

Friday’s program includes a 3 p.m. talk on Grizzlies in the Cabinets by Wayne Kasworm, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly research expert for the region. A program on wilderness advocates will be followed by “Classical Music for the Wild by the Glacier Orchestra.

Capping Friday’s events will be a wilderness movie and performance by Jack Gladstone of the Blackfeet, who illustrates Western Americana through an entertaining fusion of lyric poetry, music and narrative.  

Dale Bosworth, former chief of the Forest Service, will headline’s Saturday’s events with a 7 p.m. presentation on wilderness advocates.

Bosworth crafted the 2005 Travel Management Rule in response to the growth of off-highway vehicle use, which had more than doubled between 1982 and 2000. The rule allows OHVs to travel in national forests only on roads or routes specifically designated for their use.

Also on the Saturday schedule are programs on Wild Yoga, Critter Crafts, Backcountry Horses, Skulls and Skins, Native Americans in the Cabinets, Early Pioneers, Birds of the Wild, Kid in the Wild puppet show and more capped with evening music by two groups, Naples and Huckleberry Jam.

All three days include food vendors, a beer tent, horseshoe tossing, kayak rentals and a group campfire at the lake’s edge.

The lineup is worth camping on site or looking into a motel room at Libby or one of several national Forest campgrounds in the area.

 Sunday’s programs cover compass skills, fly tying, a wilderness ranger reunion and primitive skills demonstrations.

  •  Another wilderness celebration with programs on wildlife photography, grizzly bears, changing directions in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and more is scheduled for Aug. 23, noon-9 p.m. in Libby Riverfront Park. The Libby event will features a 7 p.m. family concert by the popular Wylie and the Wild West Show.

PCT trail record setter checks out Sandpoint

HIKING — The woman who set the 60-day, self-supported, speed-hiking record for the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 was in Sandpoint Wednesday to give a presentation for the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

The crowd that came for the show was not disappointed — especially with her animated description of an 11 p.m. on-the-trail. face-to-face encounter with a cougar. (Anish dominated!)

But Heather "Anish" Anderson needed to stretch her legs, before the program.  After an early morning radio interview, she headed out on the Gold Hill Trail with her boyfriend, Kevin Douglas, and Phil Hough of the FSPW.

"I don't walk fast," she said. "I'm a 3 mph hiker. What set me apart on the PCT was that I could do it all day, day after day, for 60 days without a rest day averaging only 5 hours of sleep a night."

Pacific Crest Trail speed-record holder to address Scotchman Peaks group

WILDERNESS — Heather “Anish” Anderson, who set the speed record for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, will keynote the annual meeting of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on Wednesday, May 14, in Sandpoint.

The 2014 State of the Scotchmans event will start at 6 p.m. at Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison St. 

Anderson will speak at 7 p.m.

The program deals with her mind- and body-challenging trek — 2,655-miles from Mexico to Canada in 60 days — to set a PCT record for self-supported through-hiking.

Scotchman Peaks Wilderness advocates will present a progress report of their 10-year-effort in getting an 88,000-acre roadless area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille considered for wilderness designation. 

The group also will announce summer events including work parties and guided treks open to the public in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and proposed Scotchman Peak Wilderness area.

Directions:

Forrest M. Bird Charter Middle School auditorium, 621 Madison in Sandpoint.

  • From U.S. Highway 2, turn south on Division  (marked by the big Mountain West Bank at the west edge of Sandpoint).
  • Go past the first stop sign and look for a sign on the right pointing the way to the Charter School.
  • A sign marking the entrance to the auditorium building. 

It was a 65ish day on Scotchman Peak

HIKING  — Jim Mellen, a hyperactive North Idaho member of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, celebrated his 65th birthday on Wednesday by hiking Forest Service Trail 65 for the 7-mile roundtrip — to the top of Scotchman Peak.

He snowboarded down and posted these photos, including the one (above) of the view from the peak's 7,009-foot summit overlooking Lake Pend Oreille.

Volunteers building new trail to Star Peak lookout

TRAILS — Volunteers are helping the Kootenai National Forest build a new trail to a stunning view from a forest fire lookout overlooking the Clark Fork River and the proposed Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness already has put in multiple days of routing, brushing, log cutting and carving the tread to the Star Peak Lookout over the past two years.  

The peak where an historic lookout is located formerly was known as Squaw Peak.

  • The next work party is set for Friday ( Aug. 9).   Meet at the trailhead (see map) at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (10 a.m. Mountain). 

Following work days are Aug. 23 plus the weekend of Sept. 21-22.

The group also has set work days on the South Fork of Ross Creek on Aug. 16 and  Morris Creek in the Lightning Creek drainage on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 28.

"We are getting close, and I am very confident we will finish this trail this summer," said Sandy Compton, FSPW program coordinator. The Forest Service trail crew cut the rest of the trail out last week. If it's really warm, we will hike up to where the the new trail meets the old single track and work down the hill in the shade.

The friends group isn't all work and no play.   See the FSPW list of guided hikes designed to familiarize the public with the official wilderness in waiting.

To sign-up and help with the trail projects, contact Sandy Compton, (208) 290-1281.
  

Wilderness groups rally volunteers for projects

TRAILS – Two friends groups are making it easy for volunteers to help improve access or restore habitat in three of the Inland Northwest's choice backcountry areas.

Friends of the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness have a full schedule ranging from guided hikes to trail building northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.  

The Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation works to connect people with wilderness through stewardship activities, including a long list of volunteer projects ranging from controlling weeds to hosting fire lookout.

Hiker and dog highlight State of the Scotchmans gathering

 WILDERNESS — Long-distance hikers Whitney "Allgood" LaRuffa and his dog, Karluk, will make a keynote presentation highlighting the annual State of the Scotchman's gathering Friday to update the pubic on the campaign for winning wilderness designation for the Scotchman Peaks area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

The gathering organized by the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will start at 5 p.m. Friday (May 31) at Eureka West, 513 Oak St. in the Old Granary District of Sandpoint.

This is a chance to catch up with wilderness advocates and get an update on the political state of the proposal, which has gotten a boost this year from the March release of the movie Grass routes: Changing the Conversation by Wildman Pictures.

"Exciting things are happening around the movie," says Phil Hough, FSPW exec, "and more than ever before, it feels like the time is now for a bill for the Scotchmans."

Eichardt's Pub, Grill and Coffee House will be provide no-host beer and wine at the event and Jupiter Jane's food bus will standing by to feed the hungry. Bring a folding chair for seating during LaRuffa's presentation.


Hough, LaRuffa and Karluk will lead a "doggy" hike on the new Star Peak Trail in Montana on Saturday (June 1) as part of the National Trails Day celebration nationwide.

Sign up for the hike by email: phil@scotchmanpeaks.org.

North Idaho botanical study needs survey volunteers

PUBLIC LANDS — OUTSURVEY – Forest Service botanical studies in Lake Pend Oreille’s Lightning Creek drainage are recruiting volunteers for summer surveys.

Helpers will monitor trails for noxious weeds and hike into alpine areas to survey whitebark pines.

Plant identification and survey training sessions are set for June 6-7 and June 12-14.

Volunteers are being coordinated through the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Interested? Fill out a short Application of Interest. Helpers will be recruited from these entries.

Read on for more details from the FSPW:

Wilderness films make case for Scotchmans

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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.

Film documents grassroots effort for Scotchman Peaks wilderness

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.

Winter treks led by Scotchman Peaks group

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.

Volunteers to be trained for wolverine research

WILDLIFE — A training workshop will be held Saturday in Sandpoint for volunteers planning to help wildlife researchers monitor wolverines, lynx and fishers in North Idaho this winter.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, the Idaho Conservation League and Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) once again are forming the core of the effort to put up bait, tend motion-activated cameras and harvest hair left by visiting critters for DNA sampling.

More than 140 volunteers helped last year in the effort overseen by Idaho Fish and Game Department researchers.

On Saturday, volunteers will be trained in some new proceedures from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Forest Service Sandpoint Ranger District, 1602 Ontario St.

Since much of the work requires volunteers to ski or shoeshoe into the backcountry, an optional avalanche awareness presentation is included.

Info: (208) 265-9565

Vote online to boost North Idaho wolverine study

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness once again is asking people to vote online before Sunday (Oct. 28) to help the group garner $27,600 in requested grants from Zoo Boise that would be applied to wolverine research in the Idaho Panhandle.

Visit the Zoo Boise projects website for details and to vote.

Review the the wolverine proposal and the other finalists and then vote for your two favorites in each category. The four projects with the most votes will each receive a grant from the total of $110,000 the zoo is awarding in 2012. One vote session per person is allowed.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has partnered with Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Conservation League on a proposal for an Idaho Panhandle Wolverine Study.

Wolverines (Gulo gulo) have been classified as ‘warranted but precluded’ for listing as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Only about 35 breeding wolverine females were known to be roaming the lower 48 states two years ago.

Read on for more details about the North Idaho project.

Join the group for hikes to area’s wild spots

TRAILS — Conservation groups throughout the region are scheduling guided group hikes to introduce outdoor enthusiasts to choice wild areas throughout the region. Following are some of the upcoming options with links to see the many hikes on each group’s summer schedule.

Columbia Highlands

  • June 23: Grassy Top-Hall Mountain hike, 8 strenous miles near Sullivan Lake.
  • June 30: Clackamas Mountain hike, 10 moderate miles.

Info: Kettle Range Conservation Group.

Scotchman Peaks

  • June 30: Spar Lake archeological hike, 8 miles, with expert on Native American foraging.
  • July 7: Grouse Lake, easy hike with Native Plant Society leader.

Info: Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Dishman Hills

  • July 11: Dishman Hills Natural Area, five-mile hike including portions of area burned by 2008 wildfire.

Info: Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

Idaho Conservation League

  • June 23: Maiden Rock, Selkirk Mountains.
  • July 7: Chilco Mountain north Of Coeur d’Alene.

Info: Idaho Conservation League Sandpoint office, (208) 265-9565.

Groups leading trips to choice wild areas from town to wilderness

TRAILS — Conservation groups throughout the region are scheduling guided group hikes to introduce outdoor enthusiasts to choice wild areas throughout the region. Following are some of the upcoming options with links to see the many hikes on each group’s summer schedule.

Columbia Highlands

  • June 8: Fir Mountain day hike, 4 miles, to viewpoints over the Sanpoil River Valley.
  • June 16: Work party to restore historic Big Lick Trail.

Info: Kettle Range Conservation Group.

Scotchman Peaks

  • June 30: Spar Lake archeological hike, 8 miles, with expert on Native American foraging.

Info: Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

Dishman Hills

  • June 9: Pond ecology hike to West Ponds in the Spokane Valley natural area, led by a Gonzaga University biology professor.
  • June 13: Rocks of Sharon, six-mile hike up through the Iller Creek Conservation Area to Big Rock.

Info: Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

Idaho Conservation League

  • June 16: Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, Family Fun Hike.
  • June 23: Maiden Rock, Selkirk Mountains.

Info: ICL Sandpoint Office, (208) 265-9565.

Scotchman Peaks Remains Snagged

Phil Hough could smell the mountain goats before he saw them. Shrugging off his pack, he looked around the summit. “It sure smells like goats up here.” And sure enough, there they were: four of them, white dots in two pairs, lounging on jutting outcroppings of rock across a dizzying ravine. The goats — hulking, horned and shaggy, with sad-looking old-man faces — are a major attraction at Scotchman’s Peak. They even serve as its unofficial mascot. At 7,009 feet, the peak is the highest point in North Idaho’s Bonner County and gives its name to the rugged 88,000 acres surrounding it. Vegetation is sparse, and the clammy October clouds run ragged across the summit. The goats, though seemingly fearless in their surefootedness, live a precarious existence amid the shattered high mountain rocks. … “Their mortality rate is 50 to 70 percent in early childhood — from falling,” Hough says. The future of the Scotchman Peaks area is similarly precarious. A proposal to designate it as federally protected wilderness has been stymied for years by opposing interests, ideologies and jurisdictions/Zach Hagadone, Inlander. More here. (Zach Hagadone Inlander photo: Scotchman's Peak is the highest point in Bonner County)

Question: Have you ever hiked Scotchman's Peak?

Winter sport clinics and films in Sandpoint

WINTER SPORTS — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks and Idaho Conservation League are sponsoring a winter backcountry film festival Friday and winter outdoor skills workshops on Saturday in Sandpoint.

Winter backcountry films will be shown at the Panida Theater Friday starting at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, the free workshops will run 9 a.m.-noon at the Sandpoint Community Hall, featuring Kevin Davis, Forest Service avalanche expert, and Dennison Webb and Erik Yost of Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education. The two workshops are designed as beginner (or refresher) courses in backcountry winter travel.

Check it out the details and schedule.