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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers set workshops in Spokane

HUNTING/FISHING — The workshops an panel discussions planned for the Saturday, March 7, session of the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Rendezvous in Spokane tackle interesting topics.

See Sunday Outdoors stories about the BHA and its programs and goals.

Here are all the details on the Saturday lineup taking place at the Red Lion at the Park:


9 a.m.

The Wilds of Washington: Lynx, Caribou, Wolverine and Grizzly, Oh My!

Ballroom D

Northeast Washington is home to a wide variety of interesting and charismatic wildlife species. Hear about research projects currently underway and learn what cooperating agencies, tribes and conservation groups are doing to conserve our native woodland caribou, wolverines, lynx, fishers and grizzly bears – a perfect introduction to our Rendezvous host community’s native landscape.

Speaker: Bart George grew up on a farm in Iowa and moved west as soon as he was out of school and employable as a wildlife biologist. Since then, he has been working on species recovery and research with the Kalispel Tribe in northeast Washington. When Bart’s not working in the woods he’s recreating in them, either following his hounds, paddling a river or lake, or chasing elk with a bow.

Backcountry Videography: Capturing the Hunting Experience 

Ballroom A

Filmmaker Clay Hayes will take you through the basics of capturing great video on your next backcountry adventure and turning it into something worth watching. Topics will include gear, composition, lighting, challenges of backcountry filming and more.

Speaker: Clay Hayes is a professional wildlife biologist and filmmaker. He’s the producer of the “wildly” popular YouTube channel Backcountry College, sponsored by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

10 a.m.

Respect the Take: Backcountry Taxidermy Care

Ballroom D

Watch and learn as taxidermist Sean West capes out a deer head and offers direction in packing it out from the backcountry. Find out how long you have to get it to the taxidermist and why you should never salt or ice your trophy skins.

Speaker: Sean West has been producing award-winning taxidermy since 2003. He spends countless hours studying wildlife at home and abroad, which supplements his deep knowledge of anatomy for wildlife from North America, Africa and other exotic species.

Archaeology and the Hunt: Wild Sheep and the 500-Year Old Ice Man

Ballroom A

While hunting Dall sheep in the spectacularly wild Tatshenshini/Alsek Wilderness Park in 1999, Bill Hanlon and his two hunting partners discovered the preserved remains of an ancient hunter emerging from the ice on the edge of a glacier. Now, almost 16 years later, Bill tells the story of the life-changing discovery and the three subsequent expeditions back to the discovery site of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, or “Long Ago Person Found.”

Speaker: Bill Hanlon has been an irascible wilderness fighter for the last 25 years with various conservation organizations in the Kootenay of British Columbia. He is the first chair of the British Columbia Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Bill spends every possible minute riding, backpacking and hunting – especially wild sheep – in the wildest places remaining in British Columbia.

11 a.m.

Backcountry Police: See it. Report it. Nail it.

Ballroom D

As an organization, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to working with law enforcement to report and prosecute backcountry offensives, particularly illegal off-road ATV use. This session will offer a dialog from local wildlife officers and BHA members who have been on the front line of such interactions. Understand the best practices for this kind of reporting and learn from past mistakes of others to ensure the best outcomes.

Speakers: Jason Snyder has spent 16 years in wildlife law enforcement, both in Washington and Montana. He is an avid big game and upland bird hunter of the Rocky Mountains and has horsepacked in the Bob Marshall and Pasayten wilderness areas for both work and recreation.

Buzz Hettick is originally from Missoula, Montana, where he grew up hunting, fishing and trapping in his backyard. He didn’t stray from that lifestyle as he received a B.S. in resource management from the University of Montana. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service since 1987 and is currently a research forester with the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Wyoming. Buzz is also co-chair of the Wyoming Chapter of BHA.

Outdoor Photography: Honing Your Skills Through the Lens

Ballroom A

We will review easy means of improving members’ outdoor photography, including discussion of technique, equipment and computer management of digital images.

Speakers: Don and Lori Thomas are widely published outdoor photographers whose work has appeared in numerous magazines. Don is co-editor of Traditional Bowhunter, editor at large of Retriever Journal and field editor of Ducks Unlimited.


1:30 p.m.

Conservation Policy Panel: The Year Ahead

Ballroom B&C during luncheon

A panel of three leaders from the sportsmen conservation community will provide an overview of legislative, administrative and other fish and wildlife policy opportunities for 2015.

Speakers: John Gale, conservation director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; Joel Webster, Western lands director, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Corey Fisher, energy director, Trout Unlimited.

2:30 p.m.

A Woman’s View: Gatherers No More

Ballroom A

The ancient stereotypes of women in hunting and fishing have been shattered. Take a walk through the history of women in the outdoors and how those traditions play out through the modern lenses of a professional bow hunter, a hook-and-bullet lifestylist and a groundbreaker in women’s fishing.

Panelists: Stacy Keogh, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at Whitworth University where she teaches courses on globalization, gender, sports and theory. Her current research on women hunters involves a sociological view of women performing gender roles in a field that has traditionally been set apart for dominant masculinity.

Yana Robertson, creative director for onXmaps, has always been about archery. Growing up in a well-known traditional bowhunting family business, Yana learned at a young age to respect the land, the hunt and the harvest. For Yana there is a spiritual connectivity that embodies hunting; being in-sync with the land, plants and animals is a major angle to her hunting style.

Heather Hodson works hard to play even harder. Outside of a nursing career, she teaches women’s fly fishing classes and is the founder of Spokane Women on the Fly. You may spot her practicing “kiss-and-release” on the many rivers in eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Hannah Ryan grew up in a small Wyoming town, and, though she attempted to stray, her hook-and-bullet father drew her back and made sure she spent her time hiking and hunting. Hannah uses her journalism degree to serve a bird habitat conservation organization, while her passions include studying the ways of waterfowl and upland birds with her griffon and trying to make her fly line float as gracefully as Paul Maclean.

Moderated by Rachel Vandevoort, trade relations manager, Kimber; BHA member, Montana

4 p.m.

On the Wild Edge: Hunting for a Natural Life, special screening

Ballroom A

On the Wild Edge, by BHA’s hunting ethicist David Peterson, is an unscripted, 66-minute documentary that explores the timeless physical and spiritual relationships shared by humans, wildlife and the wild landscapes that nourish both. It follows the yearly archery elk hunt of Peterson, a writer, BHA founding member and award-winning conservationist. A parallel theme tracks the lives of David and Caroline Petersen across decades of rural self-reliance and simplicity, lived on the wild edge of nature in the Colorado Rockies. The film will be followed by a Q&A with David. This independent film was produced by Belgian filmmaker Christopher Daley and financed through crowd funding, including BHA, Colorado BHA and individual BHA members.

Clearwater Collaborative says working together works

PUBLIC LANDS — The Clearwater Basin Collaborative, a working group of various interests, from recreation and conservation to the timber industry, has issued a report listing its accomplishments in working out management issues for the Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests.

Even though some will say they come up short, the accomplishments are much more impressive than management gridlock.

Following is my summary of the summary just posted by the Collaborative's office:

Title IV of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 established the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program.  The legislation provided funding authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to request up to $40 million annually from fiscal years 2009-2019 to implement major ecological restoration treatments on national forest system lands. 

The legislation required proposals be developed collaboratively.

The Clearwater Basin Collaborative, formally convened by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo in 2008, is a group of individuals with diverse interests who work primarily with the Forest Service to develop solutions to complex natural resource issues in north-central Idaho. 

The Nez Perce and Clearwater Forests recognized the opportunity for a new approach to land management.  Partnerships were formed to pen a proposal to restore conditions within the 1.4-million-acre Selway-Middle Fork ecosystem.  The proposal was comprehensive and unique because it included a landscape that swept across areas of intensive management into the vast, wild Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

The Selway-Middle Fork project was one of 10 selected nationally and, from fiscal years 2010-2014, has received more than $16 million to implement restoration activities.  Matching contributions of nearly $13.2 million have been generated in the form of money, products and in-kind services over the same period.

The money was a windfall essential to accomplishing mission-critical work in an era of shrinking agency budgets. 

“Motorized enthusiasts, hikers, anglers, hunters, private landowners, youth and woods workers have all benefited from restoration activities associated with this program,” said Joe Hudson, Moose Creek District ranger.

Highlights include:

  • 17,000 acres of weeds have been treated using a variety of methods from 2010 through 2014.  Many of these treatments occurred at trailheads or along trails that access the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
  • Watershed improvements include more than 63 miles of stream improvements, the replacement of 15 culverts that were undersized and/or prevented fish passage, and decommissioning of more than 66 miles of unneeded roads. The work was done in partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe
  • 47 miles of roads have been improved and 729 miles maintained, helping to reduce sediment getting to area streams. 
  • 3,500 miles of trail have been maintained and improved since 2010. Much of the work also reduces sediment moving into streams.
  • Timber thinning to reduce national forest fuels that would sustain wildfire have helped protect private landowners, particularly near Lowell and Syringa. More than 65,000 acres have been treated, reducing the likelihood of intense wildfires within treatment areas.
  • Vegetative restoration treatments contributed to commercial forest products beneficial to local communities.  So far, more than 48 MMBF (million board feet) of commercial timber have been sold within the CFLR area, and more than 16.5 MMBF harvested.  Smaller diameter materials and biomass have been removed whenever possible and used by a number of local businesses to produce commercial products such as posts, pellets and paper products.
  • People benefited directly from the programs, including the Clearwater Basin Youth Conservation Corps, providing employment and natural resource on-the-job training for six young people in 2013 and another 20 in 2014.  Plans are underway to continue and possibly expand the program in 2015.
  • Jobs created by the programs peaked in 2013 with more than 70 local jobs created or maintained related to commercial forest product activities.  Another 80 jobs were created or maintained in association with other restoration activities.  These numbers are expected to increase as larger-scale vegetative restoration activities are approved.

A 60-person monitoring advisory group comprised of citizens, academia, interest groups, agencies and the Nez Perce Tribe is keeping an eye on the programs.


Procrastinators lose on BC hiking, paddling reservations

HIKING — You snooze you loose for popular summer outdoor destinations in Canada.

British Columbia’s top hiking and paddling destinations are most surely available to adventurers who have their travel itineraries ready to apply the minute online reservations are accepted. High on the advance planning list are:

  • Lake O’Hara, a heavily restricted hiking paradise in Yoho National Park near Field, allows visitors to book campsites starting April 1. Call in the morning of the day three months in advance of your preferred reservation start.
  • West Coast Trail, a challenging but classic trek in Pacific Rim National Park, will be taking reservations online or by phone starting in mid-April for the entire prime hiking season, June 15-Sept. 15.
  • Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit, a classic week-long paddling loop formed by lakes and rivers, requires backcountry reservations that can be made for the entire summer season starting each year on Jan. 2.

Hiker permit quotas adopted to spread out ‘Wild’ crowd on PCT

HIKING — Growing numbers of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Mexico-to-Canada route made increasingly popular by the movie “Wild,” have led officials to take steps to alleviate traffic.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association announced on Wednesday a new permitting system that will limit to 50 the number of long-distance hikers heading north each day from San Diego County.

An online application process will allow hikers to schedule start dates and view projected hiker density on any given day.

The PCTA’s Jack Haskel says the goal is not to limit the number of hikers, but to spread them out.

The trail starts near Campo, California, and stretches 2,650 miles before ending at the Canadian border.

Haskel says since the movie came out in December, website traffic is up 300 percent.

Wilderness vs. monument for Boulder White-Clouds?

PUBLIC LANDS — Some Idaho groups are supporting national monument status for the Boulder-White Clouds rather than a compromise wilderness bill.

Groups weigh in on Idaho U.S. Rep. Simpson's wilderness bill
Idaho U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch introduced legislation last week to prevent presidents from using powers under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate areas national monuments.Meanwhile, their colleague in the House, Rep. Mike Simpson, introduced a new version of his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act that would create three new wilderness areas in the state. Simpson's bill would protect an area that some in Idaho have been pressing President Obama to designate a national monument. While Simpson and Risch are collaborating, The Wilderness Society, Idaho Conservation League and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition still prefer national monument status.

Senators work on central Idaho wilderness plan

WILDERNESS — Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch derailed a 2010 wilderness bill but says he’s working now with U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson on a scaled-down version as others attempt to persuade President Barack Obama to designate a central Idaho area a national monument.

Risch, a Republican, tells the Idaho Statesman that he’s looking forward to carrying a bill that he says is a collaborative product.

The smaller version of Simpson’s Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act would create three wilderness areas totaling about 295,000 acres, about 37,000 acres less than the earlier version. Not everyone is pleased with the latest iteration.

“This is a disappointing departure from the legislation we supported,” said Craig Gehrke, Idaho director for The Wilderness Society. “We don’t support the removal of thousands of acres of proposed wilderness and are discouraged to see this as a new starting point for congressional consideration.”

Part of the reason for the push on the wilderness bill is the potential designation of a national monument. Some groups are asking Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create a 592,000-acre national monument that includes the rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains.

“I spoke to Interior Secretary (Sally) Jewell and U.S. Forest Service Chief (Tom) Tidwell this week and received assurances from both that if (CIEDRA) were enacted, there would be no need or desire for a national monument by the administration,” Simpson said.

Simpson has said that Obama administration officials have told him that no national monument will be designated for six months, giving Simpson time to get the wilderness bill through Congress. It’s not clear when the bill might be introduced.

Custer County Commission Chairman Wayne Butts opposed the 2010 version. He prefers the more recent idea for wilderness designation rather than a national monument, though.

“I would have to call that the lesser of two evils,” Butts said.

Attached is a letter to President Obama signed by 44 staffers who worked for Idaho Sen. Frank Church during his 24 years in Congress as they make their case for a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument in central Idaho.  Note that the staffers include former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco.


Gold mine is knocking on The Frank’s door

Updated 1-6-15 with more details from the Associated Press.

PUBLIC LANDS — Debate continues over another collision of two actions of Congress — the 1972 Mining Act and the 1964 Wilderness Act.

There could be a way to keep gold mine out of Idaho wilderness
The 1964 Wilderness Act contains a compromise provision that protects existing mining claims, and now one of those mining claims, the Golden Hand gold mine near the center of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho is on the cusp of being developed. However, there is a precedent that could be followed to stop the mine: President Clinton's successful plan to stop Noranda's New World Gold Mine just outside Yellowstone National Park. A column by Rocky Barker.
—Idaho Statesman

Here's more from the Associated Press:

Company seeks to mine gold in central Idaho wilderness


By KEITH RIDLER/Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho  — The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on its approval of a gold mining company’s plan to reopen a 4-mile road in a central Idaho wilderness and drill core samples to find out if two of its claims are profitable enough to be mined.

Public comments are being taken through Feb. 23 on American Independence Mines and Minerals Co.’s plan in the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness. Federal authorities require claim holders to prove claims are profitable before mining starts.

The 45-page Draft Record of Decision filed Friday and first reported by the Idaho Statesman notes that the company already has three claims validated as profitable in the Payette National Forest.

The plan authorizes the company to make 571 motorized trips into the wilderness area to build 11 drill pads. Vehicles would include four-wheel-drive pickups, a dump truck, a flatbed truck, a bulldozer and a small excavator.

The Forest Service said mining is allowed in the wilderness as the result of negotiations leading up to the wilderness designation. Before mining is allowed, however, the company has to prove the mines can be profitable in a process called validation.

“They have to validate these claims before they can extract minerals from them,” said Brian Harris, Payette National Forest spokesman. “If the two claims prove to be valid, then the next step is for the owner to submit a complete plan.”

Mining began in the area in 1889, and the company wants to shore up one of the mines to see if it still can produce gold.

John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League, however, said he’s concerned the company is seeking deposits in new areas, a move he said violates what is allowed in the wilderness. “It appears to be more of a treasure hunt looking for new mineral deposits rather than confirming old ones,” he said.

Robison also said the organization is concerned that the mining company plans to use methods and equipment that go beyond the minimum required under wilderness rules.

Another concern, he said, is that the mine is near Big Creek, which feeds into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, home to salmon, steelhead and bull trout. “We’re going to carefully review the document and then make sure Idaho’s wilderness values and clean water are protected,” Robison said.

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.

Forest Service chief honors Cabinets recreation staffer

PUBLIC LANDS — A Western Montana man and former wilderness ranger recently received a national award for tending to the recreation programs in the Cabinet Mountains and wilderness area.

Joel Sather, recreation technician on the Cabinet Ranger District, traveled recently with his wife Carmin to Washington, D.C., to accept a Chief’s Award from US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

Sather, who has worked for the Forest Service for 25 years, primarily on the Kootenai National Forest, was one of only 14 Forest Service employees nationwide to win the Chief’s Award for 2014.

Sather was presented his award for his efforts in partnership, volunteers and outdoor education. He was lauded for his work on motorized recreation trails, getting kids involved in stewardship and wilderness investigation, his work on Star Peak Historic Trail #999, and coordinating volunteer efforts from diverse groups.

In his thank-you speech, Sather got a laugh from the audience when he admitted to not knowing quite yet which way was north in D.C., and that he was more comfortable in a pair of boots and a backpack with a cross-cut saw on his shoulder.

“I’m proud to be able to represent the recreation program on the Cabinet Ranger District and the Kootenai National Forest as a whole,” he said in short remarks. “In regards to this award, I was simply doing my job. A huge ‘thank you’ goes out to the Cabinet Ranger District wilderness and trail crew, and the volunteers and partners who do a tremendous amount of great work for us, including Cabinet Ridge Riders, Cabinet Resource Group, Cabinet Backcountry Horsemen and Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.”

“Joel certainly deserves the honor,” said Friends of Scotchman Peaks Program Coordinator Sandy Compton. “He’s a great partner. His energy and commitment to his job have been a huge catalyst for helping his volunteer partners get things done, not only on his district but on adjoining districts as well.”

Sather, who grew up in Lincoln County and graduated from Libby High School, was the wilderness ranger in the western half of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness for six seasons in the late 1990s. He accepted the recreation technician job on the Cabinet District in 2010. He and his wife Carmin have two children and live in Noxon.

Wilderness compromises don’t please everyone

PUBLIC LANDS — While some groups are pleased with compromises that have prompted Congress to finally take some action on wilderness bills and other public lands initiatives, some groups say the deals went too far.

Groups ask senators to pull public lands package from defense bill
On Monday, 47 environmental groups asked U.S. senators to pull the package of public lands bills attached to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act. They charged that the positive aspects of protecting areas as wilderness were heavily outweighed by others that changed grazing policies, moved massive mining projects forward and removed protections for other areas.
—Great Falls Tribune

Congress finally gives wilderness a nod

PUBLIC LANDS — Congress shook its inability to work across the aisle this week and passed public lands legislation that's been years in the making. 

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a defense spending bill containing a broad public lands package for the West.

In Montana, it provides new wilderness on the Rocky Mountain Front, a ban on mining near Glacier National Park and changes supporting oil exploration and grazing on federal land.

The bill adds 67,000 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and designating 208,000 acres along the Front as a conservation management area.

In Washington, the bill expands the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area by 22,000 acres.

It also creates a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes the B Reactor at Hanford.

It's not all perfect from anyone's point of view.  But many experts say it's better than stalemate.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where a vote is expected next week.

Value of getting together

The Missoulian has a story — Report tracks successes of conservation collaboration in Montana — indicating that collaborative groups have helped shake the shackles of a do-nothing Congress in public lands issues.

The story cites the "Collaboration at a Crossroads" report from the Wilderness Society, which examines 15 of the 37 active roundtables on land-use in Montana. Among them is the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, which worked on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act passed Thursday by the House.

Mining in the Cabinets: It’s a question of wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS — I'm getting mixed reviews in comments and emails about my Sunday Outdoors story: Not-so-wild wilderness: Mining proposals threaten Cabinet Mountains streams, lakes and grizzlies.

Some people say I featured only wilderness activists and that there's really nothing to worry about regarding the mining proposals surrounding the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwestern Montana.

Besides, we all need the metals miners extract, they point out.


But the point of the story, and the sidebar focused on the impacts of the mining on grizzly bears, is that while state and federal agencies are poring over mounds of documents on the impacts of each mine proposal, no agency appears to be sizing up the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS of both new mine proposals plus the re-starting of the existing Troy Mine plus the proposals for more motorized vehicle access in the Kootenai National Forest management plan.

The sum of these threats warrants public attention, hence the story.

The Forest Service declined to answer my prepared questions that focused on cumulative impacts.

"The process seems to overlook the wilderness as a whole.

“There’s no advocacy group for the wilderness in Sanders County. It wouldn’t be a popular position. But when I’m hiking in there, I also see lots of people form Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and Missoula, and none of them seems to know about the mines.

"A lot of people in Sanders County don’t think people from other areas don’t have a voice in the issue because they don’t live here. But the wilderness belongs to everyone.

     — Jim Costello, SaveOurCabinets.org

"It’s wilderness: Either you’re for or against it."

     —Mary Crowe Costello, Rock Creek Alliance

International Selkirk Loop motor route detailed in new book

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — A photographic journey encircling the Selkirk Mountains of northern Idaho, eastern Washington and southeastern British Columbia has been compiled into a new book.

“Selkirks Spectacular” (Keokee Books) highlights the International Selkirk Loop, a 280-mile scenic route named by Rand McNally as one of five “Best of the Roads.”

The book features more than 300 images by photographers Jerry Pavia and Tim Cady along with chapters written by Canadian Ross Klatte on the history, geology, communities, natural features, attractions, and the flora and fauna showcase this beautiful corner of the earth.

A book publication party with the authors and photographers is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, at The Pearl Theater, 7160 Ash St. in Bonners Ferry.

The book captures highlights from Lake Pend Oreille to Kootenay Lake to endangered woodland caribou and ruffed grouse as well as the region's mining and logging legacies.

The book has two front covers, one for the U.S. side and one for the Canada side. Halfway through, readers flip the book over and start again from the other side.

‘Trails to Trout’ topic at Trout Unlimited in Sandpoint

FISHING – Spokesman-Review Outdoors editor Rich Landers will present a program, Trails to Trout, at the annual meeting of the Panhandle Trout Unlimited Chapter Thursday, Nov. 13, at Di Luna’s on Cedar in Sandpoint.

Cocktail/bragging hour starts at 5:30 followed by dinner off Di Luna’s special menu.

Program starts at 7 p.m. with no admission fee.

Andrus favors Boulder-White Clouds monument

PUBLIC LANDS — While a Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, requests a little more time to persuade his party's naysayers to let him usher in a new Idaho wilderness, former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus says it's time for action:

Andrus urges Idaho Boulder-White Clouds be named national monument
At a ceremony Monday awarding former Interior Secretary and Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service, Andrus and others said that while they appreciated U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's ongoing quest to pass his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, they believe it's time for executive action to protect the area as a national monument.
—Idaho Statesman

Simpson asks Obama to wait on Idaho national monument

PUBLIC LANDS — Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho is asking President Barack Obama to hold off designating a rugged swath of central Idaho as a national monument.

Simpson tells the Idaho Statesman that he’s asked the president for six to eight months to give him time to work on passing legislation.

Simpson’s Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, or CIEDRA, would create three wilderness areas totaling 332,775 acres while also releasing 130,000 acres from a wilderness study area to a multiple-use designation.

But that plan for years has failed to get through Congress.

So some groups are asking Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to create a 592,000-acre national monument that includes the rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains.

Glacier Peak rumbles: climb it while you can

MOUNTAINEERING — The volcanic eruption may be a few centuries away, or maybe it could be in your lifetime. Who knows when Washington's Glacier Peak will spit fire again?

The summit is pegged at elevation 10,541 feet. Climbing the peak won't have as much status of an eruption takes off the top thousand feet or so the way Mt. St. Helens was reduced in size in 1980.

The U.S. Geological Survey has decided to keep a closer eye on the namesake of the Glacier Peak Wilderness — the slumbering giant in Snohomish County’s wild, scenic back yard.

A new study is under way for Glacier Peak, one of the most dangerous but least monitored volcanoes in the country, according to a story in the Everett Herald.

The USGS National Volcano Early Warning System classifies Glacier Peak as a “very high threat” volcano, on par with Mount St. Helens or Mount Rainier. The St. Helens eruption in 1980 killed 57 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and wiped out at least 47 bridges and 185 miles of highway.

A large eruption of Glacier Peak could send a deadly wall of mud, rock and glacial melt barrelling through parts of the Stillaguamish and Skagit valleys.

Glacier Peak is remote, with more than a dozen glaciers hugging its slopes, accessible only by trail.

Glacier Peak is one of 18 volcanoes in the country considered a “very high threat.” Threat levels were determined by scoring and ranking 169 U.S. volcanoes on factors such as past eruptions, recent seismic activity and proximity to populated areas and important infrastructure.

Most U.S. volcanoes dot the west coast of the country, part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. Five considered to present the highest threat are in Alaska, four each in Washington and Oregon, three in California and two in Hawaii.

Glacier Peak erupts more violently than the other four active volcanoes in Washington, USGS says. The last eruption was about 240 years ago, and the most recent large eruption took place an estimated 1,800 years ago. The odds of an eruption on any given day is about 1 in 1,000, based on USGS estimates.

The National Volcano Early Warning System has identified 57 volcanoes in the country that need better monitoring. Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens are listed as the highest priorities in Washington.

When it comes to media freedom in wilderness, give a damn

PUBLIC LANDS — I was a bit surprised at some comments I received this week after posting news that U.S. Forest Service officials were forging rules requiring "the media" to obtain $1,500 permits in order to make photographs in designated national forest wilderness areas.

A federal spokesperson originally suggested the permits, which could be denied for unspecified reasons, are necessary under public land protections guaranteed by the 1964 Wilderness Act.

A few of you suggested that would be OK.

I suppose those comments were geared to newspapers and TV reporters — like who cares.

But maybe it applies to Miley Cyrus, who reaches more people with one social "media" tweet than all the reporters in Washington state combined.  Maybe it means guidebook writers or mapmakers. Maybe it applies to you.

Unless you flunked American History, the reason for the First Amendment, or don't pay attention to world news about countries that are freedom-poor because they have no freedom of the press, you should at least have a clue.


Here's the latest on the outrage the Forest Service rules have stirred:

Forest Service says media doesn’t need permit

By PHUONG LE / Associated Press

SEATTLE — Faced with increasing criticism of a proposal that would restrict media filming in wilderness areas, the head of the U.S. Forest Service said late Thursday that the rule is not intended to apply to news-gathering activities.

The rule would apply to commercial filming, like a movie production, but reporters and news organizations would not need to get a permit to shoot video or photographs in the nation’s wilderness areas, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a phone interview Thursday.

“The U.S. Forest Service remains committed to the First Amendment,” he said, adding: “It does not infringe in any way on First Amendment rights. It does not apply to news-gathering activities, and that includes any part of news.”

Forest Service officials had said earlier in the week that news organizations, except in breaking news situations, would be required to obtain a permit and follow a number of criteria if they wanted to film in designated wilderness areas.

At least two public TV stations, in Idaho and Oregon, said they have been asked to obtain a permit before filming their programs in wilderness areas. Press advocates criticized the proposed rules as a violation of the First Amendment, saying it raises concerns about press freedom.

“I understand what he’s saying the intent is, but the language doesn’t not reflect that intent,” Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said Thursday in response to Tidwell’s comments.

“If they’re serious about it, they need to craft unambiguous language that exempts news-gathering if that’s their alleged intent, so there’s no question that someone out on a news story wouldn’t have a ranger or other employee saying ‘You need a permit’,” Osterreicher said.

Osterreicher noted that the proposal clearly refers to permits for still photography, but Tidwell said Thursday that “the intent is not for it to apply to still photography.” When this discrepancy was raised to him, Tidwell said: “This is an example of where we need to clarify.”

Tidwell said the agency wants feedback to help make sure the rules are clear and consistent.

Professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models, actors, props; work in areas where the public is generally not allowed; or cause additional administrative costs, the agency said in a release.

Tidwell acknowledged that fees are applied differently by the agency across the country. He said the goal is to have a consistent approach to permitting commercial filming activities.

Commercial-filming permits currently run anywhere from $30 a day for up to three people to as much as $800 per day for production involving dozens of people.

A separate proposal would charge as much as $1,500 for the bigger film productions involving dozens of people on federal lands.

The plan “is a good faith effort to ensure the fullest protection of America’s wild places” and has been in place for more than four years, Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said in a statement earlier Thursday.

Tidwell, whose agency manages nearly 190 million acres of public lands in national forests and grasslands, including 439 wilderness areas, said he welcomed feedback from the public at meetings to help craft clearer rules. The comment period has been extended through Dec. 3.

Under the rules, permit applications for commercial filming would be evaluated based on several criteria, including whether it spreads information about the enjoyment or use of wilderness or its ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic or historical values; helps preserve the wilderness character; and doesn’t advertise products or services. Officials also would consider whether other suitable film sites are available outside the wilderness.

One more observation, this one from Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center and dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University:

"It would be hard to defend the constitutionality of this regulation. You simply cannot give government officials the power to decide what gets covered. It’s actually astonishing to me no one in the agency raised the question of whether this might blatantly violate the First Amendment."


Media may need federal permit for wilderness photos

PUBLIC LANDS — This may be the most bizarre public lands news I've read in a long time. The U.S. Forest Service has adopted rules scheduled to go into effect in November requiring news media to have a $1,500 permit before shooting photos or video in designated wilderness areas.

This is alarming to First Amendment watchdogs, but it's also a wake-up call to advocates of public lands.

Who's the media —  Your friend or foe? A New York Times reporter? A friendly hiking guidebook author? A blogger? A Facebook poster celebrating a great trip to the Glacier Peak Wilderness?

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

The rules in another fashion actually have been in effect for years, but rarely enforced.

A notable exception: The Forest Service's previous rules caused a fuss in 2010, when the agency refused to allow an Idaho Public Television crew into a wilderness area to film student conservation workers. The agency ultimately caved to pressure from Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The National Park Service takes a different stance, requiring permits only for commercial filming and photography.

The Forest Service is accepting public comment on its bizarre proposal here.

Panhandle Forests respond to forest plan objections

PUBLIC LANDS — Regional Forest Service officials have responded to formal objections to the Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s Revised Forest Plan released earlier this year.

  • See the response document attached to this blog post.

The document of responses is the final step in the new objection process and provides the final decision for the 22 objections received from various groups.

Based on the responses, Northern Rockies Regional Forester Faye Krueger will be making modifications to the plan before signing the final decision that would conclude a forest planning process that began in 2002.

“This objection response is the outcome of a deliberative and extensive review of concerns raised by objectors involving complex regulatory and management issues,” said acting Associate Deputy Chief Greg Smith.

Forest officials say they should be able to complete the instructions this winter if the additional work indicates the forest does not need to go back out for public review.

The forest will begin implementation of the revised forest plan 30 days after the final Record of Decision is signed.

"The Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle Zone plans are the first two of the 1982 Forest Plans to go through the objection process," Krueger said. "We are still learning how the objection process works and the Forest Service is applying what we have learned here to the other Forest Plans, nation-wide.”

The Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s plan revision process has been ongoing since 2002 and has included numerous public meetings, open houses and more than 100 community based work-group sessions.

A draft forest plan and draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with multiple alternatives was released to the public in January 2012 and was followed by a 90 day public comment period.

After incorporation of public comments and the selection of an alternative the final Revised Forest Plan, final EIS and draft Record of Decision were released to the public in September 2013, which marked the beginning of the objection process.

Completion of the objection process is the final step before the forest finalizes the Record of Decision and begins implementation of the revised plan.

View the Revised Forest Plan and any of the supporting documents on the Idaho Panhandle NF’s Forest Plan Revision webpage, or contact a Forest Service Office.


The Bob has a deep, dark wilderness secret

PUBLIC LANDS — As many times as I've been into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in my home state of Montana, I've never explored this deep, dark, wilderness secret. 

The Missoula Independent reports that Tears of the Turtle, the deepest known cave in the continental United States, is protected from being too popular among spelunkers because to reach it one must trek 22 miles through the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.

The deepest known point of the cave is 1,629 feet below the surface.

See more cool photos here.

What’s the best way to celebrate 50 years of Wilderness Act?

PUBLIC LANDS — The editorial writers of the Missoulian offered this opinion:

Montana should celebrate Wilderness Act anniversary with more wilderness
Montanans enjoy access to 16 wilderness areas within their state, and with the 50th anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act that allowed for the protection of those areas, they should push for approval of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act to protect additional acres of the Big Sky State for perpetuity.

Wilderness panel discussion, hikes based out of Sandpoint

PUBLIC LANDS — A great combination of thought and exercise to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act is planned for Friday and Saturday based out of Sandpoint sponsored by the Idaho Conservation League, the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, and Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education.

The Wild Weekend for Wilderness includes a panel discussion about the historical and cultural significance of wilderness in America, the history of wilderness politics in North Idaho, the Forest Service's role in identifying lands suitable for wilderness and the management of proposed and designated wilderness areas including the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

North Idaho backcountry experts, including a wilderness ranger, will lead hikes on Saturday to North Idaho areas that qualify for wilderness designation.

The celebration concludes Saturday night with a party including live music, libations, food, giveaways and anniversary cake.

Here's the schedule:

  • Friday evening panel discussion, Why Wilderness, 5:30 p.m. at Panhandle State Bank, 414 Church St.
  • Saturday guided hike to Chimney Rock.  Sign up here or call (208) 265-9565.
  • Saturday guided hike to Scotchman Peak. Sign up here.
  • Saturday guided hike to Harrison Lake. Sign up here.
  • Saturday "Wild Night," 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m., includes food, music by The Yaaktastics at Evans Brothers Coffee, 524 Church St.

By the way, Congress signed the historic document called The 1964 Wilderness Act 50 years ago today.

The act initially protected 54 areas in 13 states totaling 9.1 million acres of backcountry in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Since President Lyndon Johnson signed the act, the system has expanded to 757 wilderness areas in 44 states totaling more than 109 million acres.

Model perfect fit for Beartooth Wilderness photo

BACKPACKING — I'm very picky about models for my outdoors photos.

For example, this ad for our newspaper Outdoors sections features writer Jim Kershner, who joined me on a multi-day backpacking trek over the high plateau of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Had I been with any other hiking/angling buddy, there likely would have been a fish in the picture. That would have cluttered up the scene and detracted from the clean look of the ad.

Thanks, Jim, for a job well done.

Group leading hikes into choice North Idaho destinations

TRAILS —  A North Idaho conservation organization has been leading group trips to acquaint the public with special backcountry areas this summer.  Some choice Inland Northwest destinations remain on the schedule in August and September.

Experienced leaders with the Idaho Conservation League have stepped up to organize the treks — mostly hikes but also some kayak paddles. The treks have ranged from easy to strenuous.

Visit the website, www.idahoconservation.org, or call (208) 265-9565, for contacting leaders prior to the trip. Assess your abilities accordingly as you check out these offerings. 

Sunday, Aug. 17,  West Fork Lake and Peak – A moderate 6- to 7-mile hike in the Selkirk Mountains, Bonner Ferry Ranger District.

Aug. 31, Snow Lake - A moderately strenuous hike of nearly 10 miles roundtrip in the Selkirk Mountains, Bonners Ferry Ranger District. Option to scramble to West Fork Peak for fantastic views of the Selkirk Crest.

Sept. 6, Chimney Rock – A moderately strenuous 11-mile roundtrip hike from the Pack River to the iconic granite spire of the Selkirk Crest.

Sept. 7, Upper Priest Lake kayak – Paddle up the “Thorofare” to Upper Priest Lake from Beaver Creek Campground area, at least six miles round trip.

Sept. 12, Trout-Big Fisher Lakes – A moderately strenuous 12-mile roundtrip hike to a pair of nifty mountain lakes.

Sept 14, Beehive Lakes scramble – A strenuous 12-mile hike involving trail walking and cross-country scrambling over granite talus slopes between Harrison and Beehive lakes at the head of the Pack River drainage.

Sept. 19-21, Lion’s Head Backpack – Six hardy backpackers will be allowed on this difficult, double overnight involving off-trail bushwhacking and boulder hopping to Lion’s Head Peak, an often seen but rarely visited Selkirk Crest granite icon beyond Priest Lake.

Colville Forest hosts NatureWatch hikes, tours

FORESTS – Hikes and other free activities are being organized by the Colville National Forest this summer to celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday and the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Here's the lineup of NatureWatch events:

July 12: Hike the 3-mile round-trip route to Round Top Mountain in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness with Forest Service wildlife biologist Mike Borysewicz. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station. The group will drive about 12 miles to the trailhead at Pass Creek Pass.

This trail, rated moderately difficult, passes through a regenerating old burn, subalpine forests and a picturesque alpine meadow, and Borysewicz has a keen eye for birds and wildlife.   Bring sturdy shoes, a hat, water, and a lunch.

Group size is limited to 12 in the wilderness. Pre-register with the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station, (509) 446-7500.

July 19: Hike the 7-mile round-trip route to Columbia Mountain Fire Lookout Cabin on the Kettle Crest with forest archeologist Alicia Beat. Meet at the Kettle Crest parking area along Hwy 20 at 9 a.m. for this moderately difficult trail with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.

Bring  lunch and plenty of water to enjoy the view from the peak, as well as wildflowers, wildlife, history, and restoration of the lookout.

 Aug. 9: Auto-tour to Salmo Mountain Fire Lookout with forest safety manager Sandy Mosconi. Meet at the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station at 9 a.m. The station is a 20-minute drive east of Ione.

The group will drive about 20 miles along Sullivan Creek, stopping along the way to discover the culture and natural history of the area. Parts of this road are high clearance, narrow and have switchbacks. Bring water and your lunch. Salmo Mountain Fire Lookout will provide views of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness and surrounding areas.

Aug 9: Hike Crowell Ridge into the Salmo-Priest wilderness with  Newport-Sullivan Lake District Ranger Gayne Sears. Meet at the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station at 9 a.m. for a rough 60-minute drive to the Sullivan Mountain Lookout.

This is a high-clearance vehicle road for about 4 miles. The group will hike 2 miles along the scenic ridgeline, returning the same way. Sears will talk about the idea of an enduring resource of wilderness and what wilderness means. Discover the culture and natural history of the area.

Bring plenty of water, lunch, and be prepared for a mildly strenuous hike with glorious views of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

Group size is limited to 12 in wilderness. Pre-register with the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station, (509) 446-7500.




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.

Films celebrate 50 years of wilderness Thursday

PUBLIC LANDS  –  A free mini-film festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act is traveling through the Inland Northwest this summer.

The beauty, history and adventure of wilderness areas, the highest level of protection offered for America’s public lands, is featured in 10 short films totaling just over an hour of entertainment suited to all ages.  Screenings still to come include:

  • Spokane – Mountain Gear Store, 2002 N. Division, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 26.
  • Metaline Falls – Cutter Theater, 7:30 p.m., June 27.
  • Colville – Rendezvous Theater, 7 p.m., Sept. 25.

Films include: American Values – American Wilderness, Last Light, Sage Steppe, North Cascades Wilderness Ranger, and a production by Gonzaga senior students highlighting the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in northeastern Washington.

The films are being presented by Colville National Forest District Ranger Gayne Sears and partners from the Lands Council or Kettle Range Conservation Group, who will answer questions and hand out door prizes.

Info: Gayne Sears, (509) 447-7300.

New map published for Cabinet Mountains Wilderness

PUBLIC LANDS — A new Cabinet Mountains Wilderness map, highlighting about 80 trails, has been published by conservation groups celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

“The last Forest Service wilderness map, published in 1992, is out of print and almost impossible to find,” said Sandy Compton of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, one of several groups, agencies and businesses that worked on the project.

“This is not only a good map as far as being able to find your way around, it’s also more of a resource for the local communities,” he said, noting it lists trails, contacts, attractions and services around the Western Montana wilderness area south of the Kootenai River.

Ten trails are spotlighted with short descriptions to show the range of options. It's beautifully illustrated with photos from the area.

The new map is clean, easy to read and water-resistant. But mapaholics won’t want to throw away their old Forest Service wilderness map.

For example, the new map leaves off a few landmark names, including small lakes or ponds and Hanging Valley.

Perhaps only a little prematurely in this age of climate change, it omits Blackwell Glacier on the north side of Snowshoe Peak and shows it as water.

However, trails on the new map are updated, easier to follow and more detailed.

Released this week, the map is being distributed at Forest Service offices, stores in the region as well as the Spokane REI store.

50 years after Wilderness Act: still much to discover

PUBLIC LANDS — Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964 is full of eye-opening insights.


The Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexico border through California, Oregon and Washington to the Canada border passes through how many official wilderness areas?

  • Three
  • Nine
  • 12
  • 48

The answer is at the end of this post.

Meanwhile, most people associate wilderness areas with national forests.  But the Forest Service isn't the only federal agency that manages officials wilderness, which can be in national parks as well as lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the  U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM manages 245 million acres in the U.S., primarily in the West (in addition to administering 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate). Of that land, 27 million acres are managed as national conservation lands including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic RiversNational Scenic and Historic Trails, and Conservation Lands of the California Desert. 

BLM manages 8.7 million acres in 221 units as wilderness, with no roads and no motorized vehicles or mechanized equipment allowed.

Check out the video below featuring BLM staffers explaining the basic question:  "What's Wilderness?" See more videos of young BLM staffers exploring Utah wilderness here

Answer: 48.