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Ketchum, Idaho 83340

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Current News & Issues: Wilderness


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The following is BWCC/Lynne Stone's response to Frankenstein Wilderness editorial.


TO Idaho Mt Express
Re: "Frankenstein Wilderness" Editorial July 16 04

Dear Editor:


Rep. Mike Simpson's idea for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains is not yet a blueprint for a "Frankenstein wilderness" as your July 16 editorial was strikingly titled.

Rep. Simpson has a PROPOSAL.

The Congressman heard from Idahoans at three public meetings two weeks ago and has probably been receiving hundreds of written comments. He has promised to read every e-mail and letter.

He has urged all user groups to listen to one another. The conservation community has urged him to consider what is best for that which cannot speak for itself -- the wild country and its wildlife.

If Rep. Simpson refuses to change his plan for motorizing and ruining wilderness values on the White Cloud's west side near the Sawtooth Valley, including favorite family hiking areas, then we agree with the Express, this plan is a monster that should be put to rest. There are other issues that also need changed or dropped.

But, let's not give up yet.

Today, A long time Wilderness campaigner sent an e-mail from Washington, D.C. He said: "Legislation, in the very best of times, is about taking risks and working hard, and not giving up, and trying to be resilient and keep one's eye on the great goal even when the sledding gets rough and things could be bleak."

Conservationists are working to fix the bad parts of Rep. Simpson's Central Idaho Plan. He's heard tremendous opposition to opening up Champion Lakes to motorcycles and snowmobiles. Also, against building a new motorized route through the Phyllis Lake cirque. And he's heard strong opposition to giving the pro-motorized Idaho Dept. of Parks and Recreation money and land for trails and campgrounds.

Your editorial mentioned ATV's. There's confusion about ATV's (all terrain vehicles). ATV's are "four wheelers", not motorcycles. ATV's are not allowed on any single-track trail in the SNRA. They would not be allowed on the trails like Germania and Frog Lake that are being proposed as motorized routes. These trails are currently open to motorbikes. His plan suggests having Germania Creek being a motorized trail that separates the Boulder Mountains and White Clouds. This does not necessarily mean there would be a three part Wilderness.

Unfortunately, I don't believe we are going to see any more pure Wilderness areas like the Sawtooth, which was designated in 1972. In 1980 there were compromises in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness legislation. The "Frank" has corridor roads such as Loon-Beaver, Indian Springs, Poker Meadow-Boundary Creek and Sleeping Deer. There are airstrips and inholdings in the Frank. There are jet boats on the Salmon River. Yet, it's still an incredible wild place, away from those modern, motorized intrusions.

I believe the Mt. Express has mistaken some existing roads for motorized trails in the Simpson Proposal. His map is confusing. It shows existing roads like West Pass, upper East Fork Salmon River, Herd Creek and Road Creek in the same manner as motorized trails. The significant motorized routes surrounded by Wilderness would be Big Boulder-Frog Lake-Little Boulder Creek loop, Germania Creek and a mile of Warm Springs Meadow. In return, Idahoans gain over 300,000 acres of Wilderness.

But, wilderness legislation will not move forward unless Rep. Simpson backs off on his awful motorized plan for the western White Clouds.

There's also confusion about two places with similar names: Washington Basin and Washington Lake basin. The former is an old mining area and accessed by the Pole Creek-Germania Creek four wheel drive road. Currently 4WD's, ATV's, motorcycles, snowmachines and bicycles go to Washington Basin. Washington Basin is a magnificent place, but with its roads and buildings, is not in Forest Service or conservation groups' Wilderness proposals.

Washington Lake, several miles away, near Fourth of July Lake, was recommended for Wilderness by the Sawtooth National Forest and should be Wilderness. However, snowmachiners who want to high mark on 11,000' foot slopes are having a strong voice in keeping Washington Lake, a family hike, out of Simpson's wilderness boundary. We urge hiking families who use Washington Lake to write to Simpson. Also, speak up for other family trips: Phyllis Lake, Thunder and Lightning Lakes, Heart Lake and Six Lakes Basin and Rough Creek.

Let's not throw in the towel, yet on Rep. Mike Simpson's plan. The fact that Custer County residents who testified at the Challis hearing largely did not oppose Wilderness was a watershed event.

Lynne Stone, Director
Boulder-White Clouds Council

Stone has worked on Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness designation for over 20 years. She is the author of a hiking and mountain book guide "Adventures in Idaho's Sawtooth Country", published by The Mountaineers, Seattle.

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