Wilderness: What on Earth is it good for?

Print Article

I grew up in Minnesota, and our family’s cabin was our summer playground. We also cherished nearby public spaces for hunting, fishing, hiking, swimming. Minnesota’s population went from 3.5 million in the 1960s to 5.45 million in 2014.

Despite having considerable state and federal land, things changed a lot. Over the years when we visited favorite state forests, national forests and parks we noticed they were being affected by the increased number of users. Off-road vehicles used in approved and non-approved areas degraded the trails. Trash was becoming a problem on nearly every trail where we hiked, hunted, fished, boated or swam. We saw less wildlife.

One place that did not suffer the obvious signs of being loved to death was the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the BWCA. A four-hour drive from Minneapolis, it was established in 1964 as a wilderness area. Only a few of its lakes allow motorized boat traffic. Today there are 250,000 visitors to this million plus acre road-less area. Ely, and Grand Marais, the closest towns, are popular vacation locations throughout the year, and enjoy sustainable, growing economies thanks to BWCA. This special area has become for me a haven in a state that has grown and changed much. Here we might see the increasingly rare animals of the north — Moose, wolves, black bears, lynx, bobcat, river otters, bald eagles. It has given me the opportunity to experience quiet, to slow down. For me, the BWCA captures the essence of northern Minnesota.

So what does this Minnesota history lesson have to do with Wilderness and the Idaho Panhandle?

Nothing and everything.

With its continued growth, Idaho will likely be grappling with many of the same challenges Minnesota faced during the years I lived and worked there. While we may not be able to control changes affecting the nation and world, we can protect resources that define quality of life in North Idaho. I believe wilderness areas, which are so different from state and national forests, state parks, and ski areas, are essential resources.

Last summer I had the opportunity to hike to the summit of Scotchman Peak with one of last summer’s goat ambassadors. Our dogs came along. With an ascent of 3,700 feet, it was for me the essence of the Idaho panhandle. It was a daylong hike — sometimes easy, sometimes difficult — passing through a series of complex ecosystems as we gained elevation.Signs of Idaho’s native wildlife were evident and we were treated to several mountain goat families when we reached the summit. I just can’t imagine the panhandle without this special place, only minimally affected by humans yet such a short drive from Clark Fork and Sandpoint.

Let’s save enough wilderness for future generations by showing support for the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness act.

In the current political climate, these areas may become the last glimpses of untouched wild places and once gone, they are gone.



Print Article

Read More Letters to the Editor

Group shouldn’t be excluded from local parade

June 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee I am a Vietnam veteran, retired, live on land homesteaded by my grandfather in 1902 on Lake Pend Oreille — and a member of Sandpoint Indivisible. I am not running around with my “hair on fire,” nor ...


Read More

Respecting free speech should be included in Fourth parade

June 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee I read with great sadness that the Sandpoint Lions Club has begun censoring participants in its annual Fourth of July parade. According to the club’s president, Judy Dabrowski, the Sandpoint Indivisi...


Read More

Here we go again with the summer pool

June 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee Here we go again. I’ve owned property on Lake Pend Oreille for more than 10 years and my taxes remind me of that every year. Yet, here we are again in the middle of June and the lake is still 2 feet...


Read More

Leave the wild ‘orphans’ alone

June 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee I would like to acknowledge Dory McIsaac of Mystic Farm Wildlife Rescue in Sagle. I recently received a frantic call from my neighbor regarding an “abandoned fawn” on their property. I assured her ...


Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy