Tag Archives: North Fork Views

“From where I stand there’s not enough wilderness”

NFPA board member Frank Vitale took strong issue with some of the statements in Larry Wilson’s last column in the Hungry Horse News. Here’s his response . . .

August 20, 2012

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views.

First, I didn’t realize the North Fork Preservation Association was considered a “moderate” environmental organization. If anyone out there has any idea how many classifications there are for environmental organizations, please let me know. Is it on a 1-10 scale; 1 being “least moderate” and 10 being “extremely moderate?”

Larry states that he is opposed to any Whitefish Range Wilderness. His opposition to it is fine with me. He is entitled to voice his likes and dislikes. That’s the way it should be in a free society.

I’d like to propose a challenge to Larry, and extend it to all North Fork landowners. The challenge would be to list 10 reasons why we should or should not have wilderness in the Whitefish Range. I would propose to have this discussion atop Mt Thompson-Seton. I would even supply the transportation to and from.

You see, Larry, we stand on different sides of the “divide.” Your side thinks there is too much wilderness. From where I stand there’s not enough wilderness. The spoilers have had a heyday tearing most of it up. They ain’t making any more.

Years ago, Bob Marshall said, “Wilderness is disappearing like a snow field on a hot July day.” A while back on one of my many packing gigs deep in the wilderness below Scapegoat Mountain, I lead my string of mules off the high plateau call Halfmoon Park. As we crossed the Continental Divide down the west slope a momma grizzly and two cubs of the year shot out below me faster than any race horse out of the starting gate. Before I knew it they made it across the canyon and up the opposite ridge like three rockets. As they crested the ridge top, they stopped and looked back toward the pack string slowly moving down the switchbacks. It was then I realized there’s no compromise up here.

Men like Cecil Garland fought like hell to keep the spoilers out of the Lincoln Backcountry. When push came to shove, there was no compromise. Now it’s called the Scapegoat Wilderness. And what a wilderness it is. One of the best I’ve seen.

I don’t know how to classify Cecil Garland. Which end of “moderate” is he? Which end of “moderate” do we place other men like Bob Marshall, Aldo Leopold, Andy Russell, John Muir? The list could go on.

When the push came to shove they didn’t quit. There was no compromise.

So Larry and other North Fork Landowners who think we have too much wilderness – take the challenge and let’s hear all your reasons. My mules are ready to go.

On a final note, the irony to Larry’s column was that it was next to Pat William’s guest editorial, “Two Rivers Run Through Montana.” This scrappy working class Irish kid from Butte, Montana made it all the way to the halls of congress. The spoilers tried to get Pat Williams voted out. They had their bumper sticker crowd with slogans like, “No wolves, no wilderness, no Williams,” but they failed. Pat gracefully retired from congress after a long, successful career. His only regret was that the wilderness dispute never got resolved, and we are still fighting the good fight many years later, one wilderness battle at a time.


Frank Vitale

Amy Secrest: On the North Fork, it’s a dog’s life

Amy Secrest is standing in for Larry Wilson in this week’s Hungry Horse News column. She does a very nice job of it, too.

Here’s the lead-in. Read the rest at the HHN . . .

At the New Year’s Eve party at Sondreson Hall, Larry Wilson asked me to write this week’s column.

The next day, after a night of dancing and celebration and an epic holiday season filled with family and friends and more blessings than I can count, I was skiing the riverbank with our dog Rio, an 80-pound yellow lab mix. I reflected on the year before and wondered on the year ahead while Rio, ever eager to go where I go, post-holed through chest-deep snow behind me. When I’d stop to marvel at the sunlit winterscape and ponder on whether new snow would make for an interesting newspaper column, Rio would interrupt my musings and insist on snowballs. It’s his favorite winter game. . .

Continue reading . . .

Larry Wilson on Christmas parties past and present

Larry Wilson’s column this week reminds everyone of the upcoming North Fork community Christmas party at Sondreson Hall and provides a nice retrospective on past events. It’s recommended reading, as usual.

(And, no, I have no idea why Larry’s column is online sometimes and sometimes not. The Hungry Horse News follows its own, incrutable logic in such matters.)

Larry Wilson’s column viewable online — finally

Longtime North Fork resident Larry Wilson’s weekly “North Fork Views” column in the Hungry Horse News is accessible online.


The best way to find it seems to be to go to the “Columns” section of the HHN’s website. Click on the “More of this story” link to read Larry’s full column. [Corrected Oct. 21 because they changed the web address for columnists.]