The following article appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express for
July 16, 2004.
proposal for a White Clouds Wilderness Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson has
created a blueprint for a new Frankenstein that could threaten all of
the nationís wilderness areas.
His plan is a three-headed monster, a creature energized by hope, but
deformed by committee engineering.
His call for three separate wilderness areas, each surrounded by roads
or trails for all terrain vehicles, bears no resemblance to the
primitive places described in the 1964 Wilderness Act.
The act calls for wilderness areas to be "untrammeled by man" and of
"primeval character." Simpsonís proposal would ensure that trammeling is
the rule, not the exception, in the White Clouds.
The act says wilderness is an area that "generally appears to have been
affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of manís
work substantially unnoticeable. Wilderness also "has outstanding
opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of
Thatís hardly what Simpsonís proposal provides. While slicing and dicing
the area with motorized trails, it also calls for opening the pristine
Champion Lakes and Washington Basin to ATVs. Places where the deer and
antelope now play could instead become inhabited by hordes of noisy
machines that can inflict great damage.
Simpsonís plan is an Orwellian attempt to make wilderness synonymous
with machines. Thatís like trying to make English gardens synonymous
with the Los Angeles Freeway.
When Congress approved the Wilderness Act, it wanted to secure
wilderness areas "to assure that an increasing population, accompanied
by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and
modify, all areas within the United States and its possessions."
Simpsonís plan does just what Congress wanted to prevent.
The White Clouds could become a national magnet for motorized
recreation, which would destroy the very solitude the Wilderness Act
should protect. The Forest Service and the BLM donít have enough money
or people to police trails today, let alone enough to handle an area
that could attract thousands of dirt bikes and four-wheelers.
The price of this folly would be to open the nationís door to more
legislative shenanigans. There would be nothing to prevent putting the
Indianapolis 500 Speedway around an area and then claiming it to be
Definitional problems aside, the real mystery to be pondered at the end
of the day is why anyoneóeven people who worship at the altar of the god
of the combustion engineówould willingly give over one of the last
sacred wild places in America to industrial tyranny and destruction.