Tag Archives: wilderness designation

“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

Weekend wrapup: Lake trout, wolverines and roadless area squabbles

Here are a few nuggets kicked up over the past few days . . .

Proposal to release roadless, wilderness study areas gains backers, opponents

A proposed bill to release federal roadless and wilderness study areas to local management and development is gathering lengthy lists of supporters and opponents, even though it’s stalled in Congress . . .

Flathead Lake biological station examines netting, cascading effects

How would Flathead Lake’s complex food web and ecology change if an aggressive netting project started removing 140,000 lake trout every year?

That is considered an important question that has yet to be answered, but it is a subject being addressed in a study being conducted for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as part of an environmental review for a proposed lake trout netting project on the lake . . .

Wolverine spotted at Whitefish ski resort

A handful of skiers had the rare opportunity to see a wolverine Monday on the front side of Big Mountain.

The sightings later were confirmed by tracks and scat found around a deer carcass . . .


Baucus will sponsor Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act

Posted yesterday evening to the Missoulian (includes a nice map) . . .

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus announced Friday he will sponsor a bill to expand the wilderness on the Rocky Mountain Front, saying the proposal has a good chance of being the first wilderness designation in the state since the early 1980s.

Conservationists who have been working on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act for about six years tout the measure as a compromise among varied groups aimed at keeping development and road access on the Front at its current levels. Opponents have said more wilderness designations could hinder access, mineral exploration and ranching operations.

Continue reading . . .

Tester’s “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” gets new Senate hearing

From an AP article posted in today’s Flathead Beacon . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s bill to increase both logging and wilderness areas in Montana was the focus of another Senate hearing Wednesday as the Democrat hopes to move forward a plan that has already become an issue in his high-profile election challenge from Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Washington again took testimony on a re-introduced version of a bill Tester first put forward nearly two years ago. Committee members expressed interest in working with Tester to advance a measure that died late last year as part of a last-minute budget bill.

Continue reading . . .

Tester announces changes to “wilderness bill”

If you’ve been following the progress of Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, this is fairly interesting.

From today’s Missoulian . . .

Reacting to both criticism and constructive advice, Sen. Jon Tester revealed a thick list of changes to his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act during a visit to Missoula on Friday.

In all, Tester proposed 21 changes to S. 1470…

Read the entire article . . .

Tester’s “wilderness bill” far from a sure thing

Today’s Missoulian has a pretty good status report — with video, no less —  on Senator Jon Tester’s proposed Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

Here’s the lead-in . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act awaits committee action in Washington, D.C., but back home his fellow Montanans are busy pushing and pulling at the proposed wilderness set-asides and logging mandates.

Read the entire article . . .

Practical politics: Rehberg stance on Tester’s “wilderness bill” a concern

Watching Senator Jon Tester’s “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” make its way through the system is a real lesson in practical politics. It made it past the initial, more or less pro forma hearings in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Now, Congressman Denny Rehberg is getting into the act with a series of “listening sessions” around Montana.

An AP article by Matthew Brown posted today offers a good overview of the situation with Rehberg and some interesting analysis. Here’s the money quote:

As Rehberg tours the state this week to gauge public support for the measure, observers say where the Republican comes down could either help seal Tester’s biggest legislative achievement since his 2006 election — or put up a major roadblock to the bill’s success.

Read the entire article . . .

New York Times posts coverage on upcoming “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” hearings

Yesterday’s New York Times carried coverage, with a minimum of snark, on Senator Jon Tester’s proposed “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” bill. The article includes a pretty good discussion of the issues likely to be covered during the upcoming hearings on the bill, which are scheduled for this Thursday.

Trying to satisfy everyone from wilderness advocates to timber companies, Sen. Jon Tester has proposed a new model for managing national forests.

The Democrat’s controversial proposal, which he has dubbed the “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” to emphasize its economic aspects rather than its wilderness components, would guide how federal agencies manage large swaths of land in his home state of Montana.

Read the entire article . . .

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 . . .

Wilderness debate heats up

Here’s an interesting article in today’s Missoulian discussing the renewed debate over designation and expansion of wilderness areas . . .

For more than three decades, millions of Montana federal acres have been de facto wilderness.

Over the past few weeks, those slumbering lands have been shoved back into the spotlight. And last Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the nation’s 40 million acres of “inventoried roadless lands” were properly protected by a 2001 Clinton administration prohibition on development.

But the 10th Circuit Court in Wyoming is deliberating on a mirror-reverse case, where a lower-court judge has declared the Clinton rule is wrong. That would leave standing a subsequent Bush administration rule allowing states to make their own rules governing federal roadless land.

And in between, Sen. Jon Tester’s proposed Forest Jobs and Recreation Act might open 1 million acres of Montana roadless land to logging, according to some of its critics.

Read the entire article . . . [link repaired]