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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Discussion Of Grizzlies Best Left Back In The City

By D.F. Oliveria Opinion Writer

Grizzly bear reintroduction programs are more appealing when discussed at an editorial board meeting than around a campfire.

On Friday, two environmentalists and a union representative dropped by to push a plan to re-establish grizzlies in the Selway-Bitterroot area. I’ve editorialized in favor of the plan, as long as a committee of local people manage the bears.

On Saturday, however, another Dad and I took our teen sons and two of their buddies to remote Crystal Lake, 23 miles south of Cataldo by U.S. Forest Service road and narrow mountain trail.

As we rode out, the other father said he couldn’t believe that some idiots were lobbying to bring grizzlies back into the Idaho wilderness. Why take the risk? he asked reasonably. Later, as we stoked the campfire at the edge of the remote lake, an hour’s walk by half moonlight from the trailhead, one of the boys remarked: “I’m glad there aren’t any grizzlies here.”

I didn’t say anything.

But, as I prepared to doze off at the edge of a remote lake, a tough hour’s walk by half moonlight from the trailhead, I reflected peacefully on his comment.

Vandals are straying far from home

Upon arriving at Crystal Lake, I was appalled to find a USFS sign scattered in pieces around its signpost at the edge of Crystal Lake. I expect such loutishness in town, where vandals routinely ruin the fun and comfort of others by attacking public restrooms along the Centennial Trail and in the region’s many parks. But you’d think anyone who’d gone to all the trouble to reach Crystal Lake would have an appreciation for its pristine setting. I guess the vandalized outhouse at the trailhead should have warned us of things to come. That, and the candy wrappers, decaying hot dogs and bits of toilet paper that greeted us just before we arrived at camp. People are such pigs.

Time together strengthens bonds

Still, the weekend was fun, though I realized I’ve put on some miles since the last time I backpacked anywhere. And pounds. One of my son’s friends delighted in running ahead of the pack up and down the mountainside and calling back to us two Dads: “Watch out or you guys are going to have a heart attack.” Everyone laughed. But I noticed my son eyed me nervously afterward. The vandals and litterbugs didn’t ruin the good time my son and I had. It was nice not to have to bug him about cleaning his room, mowing the lawn or curfews. I felt privileged to share his first backpack trip, although a modest one. I hope he remembers it. I will.

, DataTimes MEMO: D.F. Oliveria’s “Hot Potatoes” runs Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can comment on the items by calling (800) 344-6718 or (208) 765-7125, or by sending e-mail to

D.F. Oliveria’s “Hot Potatoes” runs Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can comment on the items by calling (800) 344-6718 or (208) 765-7125, or by sending e-mail to

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