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Ending the Wilderness Drought

Two weeks ago, I posted a Wild Bill column about how the feud between wilderness groups stifling efforts to protect roadless lands. Both groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) and the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) were unhappy with what I said and the comment section filled up with many insightful reasons why green groups have such dissimilar approaches to protecting roadless lands. For the benefit of readers who might be still scratching their heads over why pro-Wilderness groups have such contradictory views on accomplishing a common goal, preserving Wilderness, I asked the executive directors of both groups to write a guest column to put it in their own words. Fortunately both Tim Baker of MWA and Michael Garrity of AWR agreed, so read on. -Bill Schneider

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A New Magazine: The New West

The best way to check out The New West magazine is to subscribe. We want to know who's interested in The New West, so we have made the magazine available free to qualified subscribers who answer a short questionnaire.

In the Spring Issue and online here:

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Working Wilderness and Other Code Words

My former wife, Mollie, had many positive influences upon me. Among other things she also taught me the importance of words. Early in our relationship, I was telling her about some the “girls” in one my graduate school classes. She corrected me and told me that the “girls” were in their twenties and/or older and as such they were not girls, but women. “Yeah, of course,” I replied off handedly and somewhat annoyed by what I perceived as her politically correct position. She could tell that I was annoyed and didn’t really “get it.” So she went on to elaborate why calling adult females “girls” I was in a sense helping to maintain the illusion that they were not peers in the adult world with men. Girls, instead of women, were code for implying power structures in society. You get the jest of the conversation. Now whenever I hear someone referring to a woman as a girl, it is jarring to my ears. It sounds offensive. Though at first I merely changed my language to appease her, in the end I changed my entire perspective on words. The use of words to foster a political and philosophical sub text is, of course, not new. A similar adoption of code words has worked its way into conservation lexicon.

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Listen: Relationships and the Wild on MusEco’s Waste Not, Want Not

This month the radio program Waste Not, Want Not, Conserving the Last Best Place, explores relationships and the wild. Join host Kris Prinzing as she talks to licensed professional counselor Geral Blanchard, author of "Grizzly Lessons: Coexisting with Bears and Wolves." This show also features a memorial essay by Bozeman Author Scott Bishke about the love and partnership of wilderness advocates Florence and Ken Baldwin. Click here to listen to (streaming) or download this month's show of Waste Not, Want Not.

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At the Front of Saving the Rocky Mountain Front

Sen. Max Baucus and long-time Rocky Mountain Front supporter Gene Sentz raise a toast to recent legislation that puts public lands along Rocky Mountain Front off limits for oil and gas leases.

When Gene Sentz co-founded Friends of the Rocky Mountain Front in 1977 his prospects of facing down the oil and gas industry were singularly bleak. Exxon and Chevron had made their intent to drill known and by 1981, the Lewis and Clark National Forest had opened up public lands along the Front for lease. Large companies tend to declare their desired course with such command that its construction appears a foregone conclusion. In the shadow of such bulk ordinary citizens tend to submit instead of considering more difficult options. But a pondering schoolteacher in Choteau took up the fight. Thirty years later, the entire Rocky Mountain Front is protected from all new mineral leasing. Many say the Front has Gene Sentz to thank for that.

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Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Honors the Gifford Pinchot


You don’t have to listen to the “Voice of the Rocky Mountains” for long before realizing that Elk are a big deal. (And wolves—but lets not get started) Well, the Northwest isn’t all latte and yoga studios. We have wildlife, too, and our wildlife restoration programs are gaining national attention (or Rocky Mountain attention. Same difference right?) But don’t take my word for it! I’m late for a date with a double-shot mocha! Here is the official press release from The Boys in Beige: Vancouver, WA—Employees of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, along with a number of community partners, received national recognition from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with the 2006 “Elk Country Achievement Award for Wildlife Habitat Improvement.” Bronze elk statuettes will be on display at...

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Riparian Refuge Seeks Volunteers

Are you dying to save the environment but not sure where to start? Here is an idea: Stewardship Saturdays! Jim Clapp of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service in Washington is looking for a little help (or a lot of help) to replant three small National Wildlife Refuges on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge - Steigerwald Lake near Washougal, Franz Lake near Skamania, and Pierce between Beacon Rock and North Bonneville. I spoke to Jim Clapp this morning and he assured me these work parties are completely kid friendly. So why not make a family day of it? When I brought my boys to a Pick up the Giff work party last fall, it was fun and environmentally rewarding. Plus, because I’m desert born and raised, it was a chance to apply a parental homily: “When I was a kid we didn’t have Beautiful Forests to play in.” But more apt perhaps is this sentiment: “Someday, when you have kids, I want them to have Beautiful Forests to play in.” Here is the official Press Release...

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Idaho’s White Clouds Wilderness Debate Airing on PBS

The PBS crew in Idaho's White Clouds Wilderness. Photo by Eric Zamora.

The controversy in Idaho over how to manage hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in the White Cloud and Boulder Mountains represents, in many ways, a commentary about the status of the modern wilderness movement in America. This week, journalist Jon Christensen makes his debut as a television field correspondent when he profiles the White Clouds debate on the PBS program NOW scheduled to air Friday night on public TV channels across the country. Read about Christensen's documentary and the New West interview with him.

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Golden Eagle May Set Record

Bridger-Teton National Forest employee Jack Hatch releases the 18.5 pound golden eagle in Buffalo Valley, Wyo. 
Photo by Bryan Bedrosian.

Kelly, Wyo.-based biologists caught an 18.5 pound golden eagle over a month ago. Records show the eagle may be the heaviest golden ever caught in the wild in North America.

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Sportsmen Ask Guv to Reconsider Roadless Petition

Hunters and anglers are adding their voices to the chorus of those asking Gov. John Huntsman to reevaluate his development plans for roadless Utah. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership along with Trout Unlimited released a study showing an indisputable link between successful recreational hunting and fishing and the abundance of “undisturbed” backcountry. Bill Greer, the former director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and TRCP organizer said in a statement, “There’s simply no refuting this data that shows hunting and fishing is better on large, undisturbed tracts of backcountry land,” adding that open space provide “needed cover for migratory game animals.” These wilderness lands provide habitats which according to Greer would be greatly disturbed should off-road activities and development take over Utah’s roadless wilderness. Hunters have experienced great success in Utah’s backcountry in the past, but if Greer’s fears are to be realized and widespread development takes place, many of Utah’s natural wildlife could begin to seek refuge elsewhere.

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