Sunday, January 29, 2023

Consider consequences of establishing more wilderness

| July 20, 2005 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

I would like to address Mr. Bill Wilson and his "threats" if all of the roadless lands in the Yaak are not designated wilderness.

To further educate himself, Mr. Wilson should do at least two things. The first is to go to a Forest Service office and ask to see the regulations that pertain to wilderness. It just isn't a free for all as long as I don't use a motorized vehicle, it's more complicated than that.

The second is to get a road closure map and pick out all of the trail heads and go visit them to see how many people use them. You'll get lonesome looking for people to talk to.

I worked in the Yaak in the late '70's and early '80's looking at aerial photos and doing on the ground inspections to find timber to cut. You don't just take a paint gun and ribbon out and lay out a sale. Water courses, soil types and other factors enter into consideration. At that time timber roads cost about $200,000 per mile. There had to be enough timber to pay for roads or other uses had to provide for the need for road building. At that time the pattern was pretty well set for timber sales. If they weren't set up at that time, you won't see that they were set up since.

All the lands that were left were for all intents and purposes roadless or wilderness. They just aren't marked in big black letters.

As to the more roads causing more mortality among grizzly bears, that's ridiculous. Bears go where they choose and they cross roads because they are there. Bears don't fear cars so they will cross a road when they want. I suppose you suggest closing all roads in bear country.

There is one area in the Yaak where 8 separate griz were spotted in a short period of time. Despite no wilderness designation they were getting along just fine.

We have to look at the economic ends of wilderness. The U in Missoula says (the business section) that wilderness would attract more tourists. The type of tourists that the wilderness attracts brings their equipment and food purchased at Cabelas, not locally. The very young and the elderly are not able to utilize the wilderness as they can't reach it. I know that this is going to bring letters telling of your young kid, three years old that packs an eighty-pound pack all day.

Under the Bush plan, each state will get input into wilderness plans. States like Colorado and California will convert everything into wilderness. So where does that leave us? With the same thing that everyone else has got.

Now I can set up an outfitter operation and make a fortune. See my first suggestion. Do you know a rich outfitter that didn't have a lot of money when he arrived here?

Before you get out your pen and map to set up the Yaak Wilderness, study the consequences.

Richard Williams