Tag Archives: Thompson-Seton

Larry Wilson: Thompson-Seton Peak by mule and foot

For those of you who haven’t encountered Larry Wilson’s enthusiastic Thompson-Seton trip report, here it is. Kudos to Frank Vitale for coming up with the idea in the first place and making it happen . . .

What a great trip. Regular readers of this column will no doubt remember Frank Vitale and I debating the wilderness issue in this newspaper late last summer. That debate ended with Frank challenging me to go with him on his mules to Thompson-Seton Peak, where we would sit down and debate the issue on the mountain top. After getting Frank to agree to not only take me into the mountains but also bring me out, I accepted the challenge.

Unfortunately, the weather turned wet and cold, and we had to postpone the trip until the summer. During the winter, we were both involved in the Whitefish Range Partnership, and over the course of the meetings, we both became fully aware of the other’s feelings and concerns about wilderness. Thus, there was no big need for a mountain-top debate, but I was still anxious to take the trip and was more than happy that Frank, too, was still willing to take me.

July 28 was set as a mutually acceptable date, and I was so excited I started putting my gear together a week ahead of time…

Continue reading at the Hungry Horse News . . .

Larry Wilson: Whitefish Range challenge accepted

Larry accepts the Mount Thompson-Seton challenge and discusses the end-of-season wind-down . . .

I thoroughly enjoyed the letter last week from fellow North Forker Frank Vitale. I consider him as well as the North Fork Preservation Association a “moderate” environmentalist.

Since there seems to be some confusion about the definition of moderate, let me refer you to the dictionary…

If Frank is willing to take this old fat guy to Mount Thompson-Seton and, most importantly, back out, I accept. I suspect there is much that he and I will agree on even if we don’t agree about the specifics of a wilderness. I hope others will join us.

Continue reading . . .

“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

Headwaters Montana advocates North Fork wilderness

From the Wednesday, October 14, 2009 online edition of the Hungry Horse News . . .

There’s a renewed push for wilderness in the North Fork. Headwaters Montana, a relatively new conservation group has released a plan for land conservation on both sides of the border.

Tucked in that plan is a call for 140,000 acres of designated wilderness in the Thompson-Seton and Mount Hefty areas.

But the plan doesn’t end there. It includes a wilderness designation for Glacier’s backcountry, expansion of Waterton Lakes National Park to the Canadian Flathead and wildlife management zones west of the Waterton expansion.

Read the entire article . . .