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The wilderness debate never seems to go away, and how can we have so much disagreement without ever having any agreement, let alone any results? Now, the issue has hit the news again with the re-introduction of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The comment section quickly filled up with the same vitriol we see every time the word, "wilderness," appears on the Internet--and from the same cast of characters who consider wilderness some type of plot to rob them of their rights.

It’s the Wilderness, Stupid

The wilderness debate never seems to go away, and how can we have so much disagreement without ever having any agreement, let alone any results?

Now, the issue has hit the news again with the re-introduction of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The comment section quickly filled up with the same vitriol we see every time the word, “wilderness,” appears on the Internet–and from the same cast of characters who consider wilderness some type of plot to rob them of their rights.

It made me ask, again, how could we–and by “we,” I mean people who live here in the New West and politicians who supposedly represent us–be so short-sighted, if not stupid?

I’ve actually given up on our politicians ever passing a true Wilderness bill i.e. so-called big “W” Wilderness” designated by Congress under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Instead, I define “wilderness” as public land with no road-building or motorized recreation allowed. Regrettably, the little “w” and big “W” have become the same in the public vernacular, so for the rest of this column, think little.

This isn’t Indiana. We have something here in the New West most people can only dream about having–millions of acres of wilderness on our horizons, but we don’t understand that what is rare is precious, and we still allow or promote turning the special into the ordinary.

Before skipping the rest of this column and heading down to the comment section to repeat worn-out accusations about wilderness being a top-down, eastern-liberal-conceived, environmental conspiracy to drive westerners and their machines and livestock off public land and make it a sanctuary for the rich, elite super-fit, please pause, look around, and consider the following.

Why do most people move to states like Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming? Why to they vacation here?

To see mines, drilling rigs, and “stewardship logging”? To see cattle grazing on federal lands that all Americans own? Or elk and bears? To enjoy noisy, smelly ATVs tearing around? Or hear nature’s sounds?

How many small businesses depend on wilderness? How many more would spring up if we protected the rest of it?

Why is wilderness never considered a jobs program? If we could track the number of people who depend on wilderness, directly or indirectly, for their economic livelihood, we’d have protected all our roadless lands decades ago.

Where to people move to and visit and spend their money? To rural cow towns or mining communities? Or resort communities surrounded by national parks and wilderness?

What drives the economics of communities like Aspen, Bend, Big Sky, Bigfork, Bozeman, Choteau, Cody, Coeur d’Alene, Crested Butte, Durango, Estes Park, Jackson, Livingston, Kalispell, Ketchum, Moab, Polson, Priest Lake, Red Lodge, St. George, Vail, Whitefish and many dozens more communities, large and small, like them? And makes these towns our fastest growing communities?

The economics of these communities, if not the entire region, is based on what I call, “eating the scenery.” Our economy heavily depends on proximity to wilderness.

What would those who incessantly oppose wilderness say if we proposed developing Glacier or Grand Teton, Indian Peaks or Frank Church, Wind Rivers or Beartooths? We know the answer, don’t we? In fact, we’ve already seen this happen–normally anti-wilderness people opposing gold mines or geothermal development near (not in) Yellowstone or fossil fuel drilling near Canyonlands, or my favorite from back in the late 1970s when an energy company proposed “Bombing the Bob,” setting off a string of seismic charges to search for fossil fuel. Surprise, politicians and chamber presidents who worship anything-jobs were in an uproar. They didn’t even want to know if we had fossil fuel under the Bob Marshall Wilderness. You all can think of more such examples; when the push comes, all-business people understand how their bread gets buttered. It’s the wilderness, stupid.

Yes, mining, logging, and grazing are legitimate uses of our public lands and create jobs, but so does wilderness. We’d be shocked if we knew how many jobs our unprotected wilderness already creates, but it could create a lot more if we protect it. We’ve proved this over and over; when a wilderness or national park is designated, the local economy benefits.

NREPA might not be the answer, but at least its backers have the moxie to propose a sweeping proposal to do what needs to be done, protect our roadless heritage. The people with no courage, the people who should be barraged with our anger, are our senators and representatives, for being so disinterested as to sit ideally by watching our wilderness disappear knowing they’re the only people who can do anything about it.

The politicos only want “bottom-up” bills. Well, hello, everybody wants this, but often, it simply isn’t possible. NREPA is, in fact, a “bottom up” bill. It didn’t originate in skyscrapers of New York City where its sponsor lives. Concerned citizens created it right here in Idaho and Montana and wanted our local delegations to carry it, but they wouldn’t even consider it.

It’s fantasy to think wilderness will ever be a political lay-up. In most cases, diametrically opposed stakeholders can’t agree on a compromise bill, and in the cases where they’ve done this, the bill has become so convoluted that it accomplishes little and often becomes even more controversial. Plus, it’s nitpicking. We have many millions of acres to protect.

The now-infamous Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership bill gives us an excellent example–a failed collaboration that hopefully won’t be introduced in its present form. Most wilderness advocates oppose it, and those who wrote it don’t dare call it a wilderness bill.

There is a better way.

In most states, particularly in my state, Montana, we have proved that we can’t agree on what we should do, so I say to the politicians, stop waiting for a slam-dunk and draft your own wilderness bill. This might give some of my wildernut friends strokes, but right now, I prefer it isn’t a big “W” bill. “Wilderness” has, so sadly, become just another “w” word like “wolf” or “war” that promotes polarization. Instead, go for an alternative land designation. Call it anything; just make sure it allows bicycling and not road-building or motorized recreation.

Don’t put non-wilderness stuff in the bill. If the timber industry needs help–and I’m among those who think it does need relief–put that aide into a different bill.

You could argue all day whether the majority supports wilderness. Some polls say the majority does; others say no. But I believe most people would answer, “yes,” to this question: Should we protect our roadless lands?

Even if we wilderness advocates aren’t the majority, does it matter? We are definitely a large, important constituency, and we deserve some attention.

I feel–surprise!–the same away about the logging and motorized recreation constituencies. People who like to watch trees being pinched off or enjoy racing around on ATVs probably aren’t majorities either, but they, too, deserve attention.

But not in the same bill!

So, senators and representatives, please take control and do something to take care of your constituencies with specific bills addressing their concerns. An excellent place to start would be getting together and passing a regional or series of statewide wilderness bills (note, the little “w”).

If you can’t accept your responsibility, you have no right to stop somebody who owns just as much public land in New West states as you do from doing it. Don’t rush to the podium to criticize those evil “outsiders” who don’t understand our “local concerns” and dare to introduce bills to protect “our” public lands. You’ve had your chance to do something meaningful. If you can’t stand up for your wilderness constituency–and your wilderness economy–then get out of the way and let somebody who does care do it.

Footnote: For more articles on the wilderness debate, click here.

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  1. Bill: We do not NEED wilderness. People NEED food, shelter and safety. Right now, the future for those items is din doubt. The political will, emphasis, should be on national safety, personal safety, a place to sleep out of the cold or heat, clothes to wear, food to eat, and way to get from here to there. Those are what we NEED.

    Some, or even many, can WANT wilderness. And some can purport to show how we will never survive without more of it. What is not said, is that the very same Wilderness by designation is already present. It is only lacking designation and the extra expense of protection, and the unknown ramifications of how that designation will impact future needs of the country.

    Wilderness will not reform banking, address natural resource issues, create manufacturing jobs in this county, provide a dime for education or county government. Wilderness is another expense, and perhaps one the majority are right now not willing to add to their burden. In the meantime, there is no demand for lumber and logs. Logging is not a threat to roadless areas. Fire is the threat. Fire, and the insane WFU policy of public land managers.

    And, Bill, I do ask you to look at the Economist ( week to read the “Nerds vs Treehuggers” story, just the very same issue I was writing about with NREPA last week. The attempt to site a electrical transmission line from the Imperial Valley to San Diego, and the gerrymandering that went on to have an environmentalist approved right of way, avoiding Wilderness, Tribal lands, special habitats, only to have the thing stopped by appeals from the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity to limit the line to carrying ONLY power generated by solar, wind or geothermal methods. They evidently do not read Tesla, and how to use grids to maximize the use of ALL available power. No matter, the Protectors of All are predictable in their responses to any and technological advances, and NREPA cannot be passed until it has the ability to accept improved or new transportation corridors east and west. Holding the Pacific Coast economies hostage to 19th century transportation rights of way is no way to improve the national economic health. And if you don’t protect economic health, you have no means to protect environmental health.

  2. It makes sense to protect some of our wild areas, and it seems to me the REAL wild areas are all already protected in an appropriate manner. But it makes no sense to lock up this country’s resources, especially given our economic situation.

    When will you wilderness advocates ever feel like you have enough? Over 100 million acres, and you still whine for more. Absolutely amazing.

  3. What makes the listed towns our fastest growing communities is the amount of human capital required to service the uber-wealthy that have their second and third and on and on ad nauseum there.

    Granted, that comment is a bit of a sweeping generalization, but, some is the listing of towns and the assumption that there is commonality between them. Aspen and Moab? The uber-rich versus yuppie mountain bikers?

    Aspen isn’t “growing” per se, nor is what limited growth there is based on access to a nearby wilderness. It is a place to ski and be “seen”, as well as to have an address with a certain cache’. Rifle, Silt, Basalt and Glenwood Springs have grown to service the wealthy residents of Aspen and the gas and oil fields nearby. Note Eagle, Minturn and the like, whose growth has occurred to house the lumpen brought in to service the well-off denizens of Vail and Beaver Creek.

    Where, may I ask, are the sizable wilderness areas around Aspen or Vail that are the supposed draw for the hordes moving in. Holy Cross and Maroon Bells? These miniscule dots on the map are an afterthought, not the reason.

    Moab is part Canyonlands, but is mostly populated by folks who serve the interests of a bunch of bike-riders and other off-road enthusiasts of the internal combustion variety, well out of designated “Wilderness or “Park”. True “Wilderness” requires work, unless you are on a narrow ribbon of water ensconsed inside. More often than not, those who venbture onto the waters are the well-guided and well-fed. That is the common method of “experiencing wilderness” – a sometimes thrilling ride in a hydraulically propelled floatation device in quite narrow confines, with the complexities of the camping arrangements taken care of by others.

    Virtually every other bustling community mentioned exists near a “Drive Through Park”, not “Wilderness”. The amount of people who stop the vehicle and pack in for days on end, whether by foot or horseback, is miniscule compared to the “drive-stop-click-drive-hotel” crowd. Estes Park has been nothing but a “tourist trap” for years, and Rocky Mountain National Park, though beautiful, is generally just driven through over Trail Ridge Road in a bit of an abbreviated day.

    Livingston’s year-round economic life blood is Montana Rail Link and St. George, God bless him, is a somewhat north version of Arizona’s “Sun City”, full of decaying retirees. Wilderness schmilderness.

    Durango and Coeur d’Alene aren’t near any “Wilderness” whatsoever. Regarding Coeur d’Alene – a beautiful lake certainly, and Durango is near the San Juan’s and the La Plata’s, but the growth in those locations has nothing at all to do with “Wilderness”. It is money from other industries, and in some cases, the “new” and likely dying “economy” that allowed niche professionals to live where they wish and still maintain economic function. That day is either dead or has one foot in the grave – we simply have yet to embalm the corpse and attend the funeral.

    “The majority this and the majority that…” The “majority” supported every war we ever engaged in as well. So what? And what does the “majority” really know about anything. They don’t. Politics in this country depends on the ignorance of its population, which is why it is wildly successful at selling us impossible solutions to impossible problems. Sloganeering consumed by voratious fools…

    Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness gets about 15,000 visitors a year – 14,500 of them on the two magnificent rivers that cut through it. It is the “Crown Jewel” of our Wilderness Areas in the Lower 48. A couple of million acres dissected by the Salmon River and the Middle Fork thereof, with the stones-throw wide Magruder Corridor separating it from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. By the authors logic that permeates his article – the “cities” of Salmon, Challis, Yellow Pine, and Riggins should now be sprawling metroplexes with population growth flooding in from every direction. The suggested reason – “The Frank”!

    Hold the laugh track. All you have in those communities is gentrification and a slow-motion exodus. Small getting smaller, the dead and dying.

    This “Wilderness” bill is a shotgun approach to a problem, if one actually exists, where a rifle is the correct tool needed. 24 million square miles in one fell swoop, and oddly, since the author touts democracy so much, this measure seems to lack local support outside of a handful of activists and college students. Further, if there is such a groundswell of support in the regions directly affected, why is there zero support at the legislative level?

    Because it is a bad bill.

    The world is aflame with war, the global economy is imploding – and rather than focus on matters truly critical and serving the country responsibly like actually reading “Stimulus Bills” before they are voted on, we have “representatives” in this great “democracy” tossing this inanity out for debate.

    Ah, the “wisdom of the masses” and the 21st century farce of representative government…

  4. I’ll keep this short. You mention all the gains from wilderness but no figures to support them. I’m old enuf that I have trouble hiking into the existing wildernesses, so does that mean I and those like me (disabled, old, but still alive) should be denied access to “Our Public Lands”. Too much has already been lost to out-of-state owners. Like the gentleman said before me, ” HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?” Will you and yours ever be satisfied?

  5. Dear Dale,

    No one is denying you access. When you were young and virile, you had ample opportunity to enjoy the quiet of wilderness with your own two feet. Perhaps you should allow your grandchildren the same luxury?

  6. When will you road advocates ever feel like you have enough?

    Over 100 million acres is a small fraction of the whole Lower 48. Enough (24 million acres, not square miles) is bairly enough to support the large and small animals that continue to exist there. Bull trout, grizzly bears, wolverine, lynx, and other species remain there because man destroyed the rest of the habitat. Want them all dead and gone too? If you’d read before spewing, it might not sound so silly. Wilderness critics seldom understand its not all about man and man’s (toys) wants.

  7. In the lower 48 about 107 million acres out of 1.9 billion acres are designated wilderness about 5.6 percent of total land area. How many more acres are we fighting about? Put it all in or splint the difference? This fight is getting stale and needs to be settled. The incremental amount of remaining wilderness benefit or denial doesn’t seem worth all the turmoil.

  8. Excuse my error when I typed the word “miles” rather than “acres” in my comment. Outside of a few other grammatical errors, I stand by what was penned.

    And Mr. Kelley, I assume you meant “barely” rather than the spelling “bairly”, which is not found in any dictionary.

    Further, you posited an argument that certain species “remain there because man destroyed the rest of the habitat”.

    If your facetious assertion had any basis in fact, the areas listed in the 149 pages of the Wilderness Bill would not be under consideration as “Wilderness”. They were selected specifically because pristine qualities remain which qualify them as “Wilderness”. Further, you argued that the additional 24 million acres on top of that already set aside is not enough to support the biota which resides there.

    Sir – Can you provide “proof” of your assertion? “Peer-Reviewed” studies would be nice, such as those authored by wildlife biologists who contest the philosophies of “Deep Ecology” or “Conservation Biology”, which much to your chagrin are still considered “fringe” by the larger scientific community. “The Scientific Method” is far preferable to emotionally driven “command science”, which is not science at all. It is characterized by the predetermination of a desired END, followed by the creation of “fact” to support it. We are mired in Iraq because of such flawed methodology.

    Note this as well – I never once made mention of a criticism of existing wilderness areas, nor did I suggest lacing new roads in the areas listed in the proposed bill. Perhaps prior to your careless tossing of accusation, you should try to comprehend what you read, rather than read into the prose what is not there.

    One only hopes you are more careful with matches than you are with words.

  9. I understand that everyone wants an opportunity to see these beautiful areas – but unfortunately the only thing that differentiates them from areas with roads is precisely that – they don’t have any roads – they don’t have any development. Open them up and you’re going to eliminate the only thing that makes them special. They’ll be just the same as everywhere else.

    There’s plenty of ridiculously gorgeous places that old and disabled people can access. Let’s keep the rest of it just the way it is. And let’s not accuse the people who are AGAINST the development of these lands as the “greedy” ones. That’s a pretty clear case of projecting, if you ask me.

  10. Micky, Your Wilderness numbers are incorrect.

    About 2.5% of the lower 48 is protected as Wilderness, not 5.6% as you claim. The lower 48 also doesn’t have 107 million acres in Wilderness. That 107 million acre figure is for the entire US, including Alaska, which has at least 56 million acres of Wilderness (ie over half of all US Wilderness).

    This website might be of use for this continuing discussion:

    According to the website, is a partnership project of the Wilderness Institute at The University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation, the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute.

    I would recommend the link titled, Common Misconceptions About America’s Wilderness at

    At that link you’ll find this statement:

    “Currently, the National Wilderness Preservation System contains 107,361,680 acres. However, only 4.72% of the entire United States-an area slightly larger than the state of California-is protected as Wilderness. Since 53% of America’s Wilderness is found in Alaska, only 2.62% of the contiguous United States-an area about the size of South Dakota-is protected as Wilderness.”

  11. How much per day are you wilderness advocates willing to pay for the priviledge of having exclusive use of the so called wilderness? Certainly the taxpayers should not be stuck with the bill for maintaining a private retreat for those who have the time and lack the work requirements that allow them to use the lands. They are entitled to a return on their money equal to the resource values not accessed.
    Then there is the issue of damage to the naturalness of the area by scattereng human waste from he** to breakfast. Plus the weeds traced all over from hiking boots means that as long as humans have access, is it truly wild?
    The states themselves are absolutely capable of deciding what should be declared “wilderness” and how much of their state they can afford to be “wilderness.

  12. John Molloy,

    Only studies “authored by wildlife biologists who contest… Conservation Biology” are acceptable to you and you contend that the field of conservation biology is “considered ‘fringe’ by the larger scientific community” and that’s actually what you wanted to say? Did I read that correctly? Do you want to restate it?

  13. The biggest problem with land designations is that too often core decisions and proposals are made by well principled people WHO HAVEN’t BEEN THERE.
    If a proposal is deep in a gorge where the proverbial “Wal-Mart” is not likely to build anyway, with a little win-win finesse who cares if we seek to preserve it? There is probably more common ground for most of us, than most of us realize. This is particularly true for environmentalists and hunters and fisherman. How this obvious alliance ever divided I couldn’t say.

    We have “adoptive parents” who monitor and get to know the land during the political process, which can take a very long time. (Yes I am one.) Adoptive parents get to know the land owners, agency employees, recreational users and specific details about the land access and alternatives. Whether an issue is decided one way or the other, since these folks are synthesizing the data from the dirt up, and keeping a pulse on what’s happening out there, they should be kept in the loop.

    I’ve had nearlyas difficult a time with activists eager to push a bright idea as from development proponents eager to bulldoze, without some careful ground truthing of the data and alternatives. Too often other land projects come up and adoptive parent existence, if not their input and insight is overlooked.
    While waiting on the forces of congress to take shape, I’ve dealt with California’s two largest fires, a large and totally weird power line proposal threatening to wipe out our proposed wilderness when the activists actually fighting the line had never been there, rock climbers who hammer drilled a thousand bolts into the face of a peak over 5 years and then claimed there hadn’t been any eagles nesting for five years so they should be allowed to climb during nesting season, to a multi-agency trail proposal to create a wide bike path, backcountry rental facilities and European style hostels through the proposal, to agency long range planning that included “administrative roaded” designations in deep virtually pristine, untouched stream gorges where not a single employee in two dozen open houses could fess-up to having ever been there on foot.

    These other interests do not have to be shot down. Nearly all of these have amicable win-win modifications if only the ground knowledge is tapped. Wouldn’t ya think?
    Without a coordinated, integrated, and well supported effort, no one person can go it alone through these things, even knowing clearly, what is what , to prevail getting the outside world to listen. It is difficult enough just to communicate in simple terms to most urbanites, and often organizational board, what a wilderness is, that it bears absolutely no resemblance to the Blair Witch Project, and why that is enormously special if not down right exciting.
    Wilderness advocates actually do normal things too. They eat food, live in houses, send children to college, even drive cars, invest in the stock market, support national security, and plan for retirement. We are not oblivious to basic modern living and economies. Political decisions affect our lives too.

  14. Matthew –

    Your post cuts right to the chase.


    The bottom line Matthew is that you’re wasting your time with many of these people. They will never be convinced. They are angry, emotional and lack a basic ability to grasp simple facts and figures.

    These are people who think grizzlies were flown into the Bitterroots via “black helicopters at night”, and who harp about the U.N taking over the world, lol.

  15. Being and “adoptive parent” means taking on the support of the adopted one. So how many of you “me onlys” are willing to even work to pay your share, much less all of the cost? I do not mind my money going to support something I too can enjoy, but certainly if you are going to keep me out because I cannot hike in and meet YOUR criteria to have access, you can pay all of the costs yourselves.
    Greed is greed, no matter how you try to dress it up as “saving the land”. You were the kids in kindergarten who threw tantrums when you refused to share the toys or the slide.

  16. Wild Bill,

    I almost entirely depend on wilderness for my living but am one of the very few. For you to imply that everybody against more wilderness is “Stupid” is flat out rediculous! A big share of wise use citizens want a good balance of wilderness and multiple use lands and we sure as heck don’t want the reap and pillage (road building and etc.) that you would have others believe about us, and you are only trying to fan and fuel the flames to expedite the onerous views of radical wilderness whore mongering.

  17. O.K., total wilderness is a little larger than the state of California. That’s a pretty good chunk of land. We’re into the end game now and the question still remains how much more wilderness do we need? How many acres? All of the remaining roadless area? Half? 75%? Cut a deal with the heathens?

  18. Who decided Upper Twin Lake is “Threatened Wilderness”? How is it “threatened”? Is it threatened because people access it by using a motorized vehicle? Or perhaps because MORE people access it by using a motorized vehicle than by getting there your way? The road to Twin Lakes has been there for many, many years, probably before you started going there. The same is true for so many areas in Montana. And your goal is to close these areas off to everyone unless they can and will get there your way. There are some true wilderness areas out there still, and most people are not advocating putting in more roads and building mines and putting drill rigs in the wilderness. Go enjoy those and quit trying limit peoples access to existing areas. We simply want to continue to access the areas we have been going to for years and not have people come in and try to take away what we enjoy.
    I have been going to these areas for a long time and do not see people on motorized vehicles tearing up the whole country. They stay on the roads and use the roads to get to a remote place that they can explore from there on foot. I don’t have any statistics, and I’m not going to make any sweeping statements with any authority, but it may well be that many people come to Montana because they CAN use their motorized vehicle and get to a remote area to enjoy!
    I’m glad the government is not doing something about your idea of limiting the wilderness. If it stays status quo we can all enjoy it. The only difference is I will enjoy the ride and you will be complaining and bemoaning the fact that you saw an ATV. Perhaps one of us actually enjoys it more.

  19. R.E. “Real Mike” –

    The “studies” which support “Wilding” have emanated from a particular philosophical camp and may or may not have a sound scientific basis. Where has been the peer-review? For that matter, what has happened to “peer-review”?

    Before politics and ideology corrupted science, scientific inquiry was engaged in to answer questions, and “The Scientific Method” was utilized to that end. What has devolved from that standard over the last several decades is “special interest science”, not unlike that practiced in the former Soviet Union under Trofim Lysenko, but with the co-joined “capitalist” and “interest groups” setting agendas as well as the State.

    The end result is not materially different. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. When data is gathered to support a pre-determined belief, “science” is not what is being practiced. Fraud is the correct description. It matters not if the “Peer reviewed” studies came from Big Tobbaco, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Loggers, Big Government, or Big Enviro, one invariably finds those who “peer-reviewed” the original studies were hired by the same entities who conducted the original studies and instructed to “favor” findings that will be in their benefactors favor. It is little different than violating the “Style Sheet” of a publication organ – you find yourself no longer employed.

    “Truth” is simply sacrificed.

    Peer-review is now bought and paid for, whether by corporations, interest groups, or sadly, by government as well. The “science” of things has been sacrificed for money, whether through grants, prestige, or salary. If one decides to resist what is considered prevailing orthodoxy, ones’ livelihood generally disappears. “Conformity” of thought is thus assured. “Science” is now generally dominated by “camp followers” rather than scientists.

    So, though I would prefer to have peer-review performed by those completely unbiased and without their financial security threatened, in today’s America, such is virtually impossible. What is available to counter the “studies” performed by advocates is the enjoining studies by those of a different perspective, because that is where the funding will come from. Because the scientific community has effectively whored itself out to one side or the other, finding and funding scientists who would follow the age-old processes of the search for truth is nigh impossible.

    Regrettably, the self-appointed “purists” promoting this Wilderness proposition expose themselves as little different than those in opposition. Both sides are convinced of the perfection of their arguments, if not self as well.

    What I find disturbing, and we all should, is the assumption by all parties is that “We” are good and the “Other” is bad. It’s so “Bush”, and so hypocritical. The sin is the same.

    “They are Evildoers.” “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.” Such rigidity in ideology eliminates middle ground, and in doing so, eliminates discussion. And witness how both sides use the anti-communication tool known as the pejorative.

    We have “Mike” for example, who attempts to intellectually disenfranchise those who disagree with him to whatever degree by suggesting that they must collectively believe in “Black Helicopters” and “U.N. Troops taking over the world”. He cajoles his ideological fellow Matthew by stating to Matt that he is “wasting your (his) time” and those in disagreement with his intellectual Highness “lack a basic ability to grasp simple facts and figures”.

    In other words, if you disagree with Mike and Matt, you are some sort of wingnut conspiracy theorist, barely literate, and also mathematically challenged. And a pejorative in a pear tree.

    This is what I call the “Limbaugh Phenomena”, a psycho-social malady which is forever on the increase as our society continues on its never-ending quest to complete narcissism. Previously considered to be a disease only of the political “right”, recent evidence demonstrates that the disorder affects all parts of the political spectrum.

    Not yet part of the D.S.M., but perhaps to be included in the upcoming version “V”, the disorder is characterized by people only wanting to hear what validates their previously existing belief system and world view. Any thoughts and words outside of the limited spectrum of comfort, whether written or spoken, are dismissed out of hand. The individual or group who proferred these heretical notions are instantly villified, and reduced into the “Other”. Such quasi sub-human status thus makes these objects of derision and constant targets, thus undeserving of any respect and validating, albeit falsely, of ones’ own righteousness and supremacy.

    “We” can then do not wrong, nor should we ever put to question our own beliefs. Such self-righteousness places us in an emotion-laden vortex where we become deaf and blind to all about us but ourselves. Our challengers are but fools. How nice!

    “I can make you feel, but I can’t make you think.” – Ian Anderson, from “Thick as a Brick”

    “Caught in the Crossfire”, sang Stevie Ray Vaughn. That is where anyone looking for middle-ground solutions finds themselves. “Collateral Damage” and nothing more. Sliced through by epitaphs
    and suffering from stab wounds by those whose meager intellectual weapons are pejoratives. Bang, bang, bang…

    Self-sainted lots with halos in place, positioned against each other on the ideological battlefield not unlike so many toy soldiers – “You are either with us or you are against us”.

    Narcissists are children who never grew up.

  20. I believe we all need to stop and define what we are talking about, namely what is “wilderness.” Many on this discussion board (on both sides of the wilderness issue) equate wilderness with recreation. This is a perfectly valid definition. The Wilderness Act itself uses recreation to define wilderness – ” where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Some of the intellectual leaders of the early wilderness moment (men like Bob Marshall, David Brower, and Howard Zahniser) used their own recreation to define wilderness. Arthur Carhart argued that only through recreation could American’s learn to preserve wild lands. That all said, wilderness can also be define as a way to protect ecosystems. This is a slipper definition for the fact that is has little economic value. Recreation at least attracts some tourists who buy $200 hiking boots, etc. This duplicity is the real problem with wilderness, and has lead to the political quagmire any discussion of “wilderness” quickly falls into.

  21. Marion, my efforts are 100% donated. I do not get reimbursed, I am not on a grant, I’m not paid and I’m not running for any political office, so far no one is calling for the movie rights. I do work full time and overtime on salary without extra compensation for that either. I hold secret clearance and like the Republican Congressman whose district this is, I would always place issues of National Security first. That does not mean, however that just because you can do something that it is necessary or that there isn’t a way to serve all concerns and still preserve natural heritage. I have a well known firm review, calculate, and pay my taxes and rarely are my efforts outside of work deductible unless it is for gas money to take the public hiking into these areas, which I do at my own expense.

    I DO want you and every citizen in this country to know, enjoy, and embrace what a treasure in wilderness you own. And yes YOU own it, right now. Our proposed wildernesses of the new millennium are divided into small units, about 5000 to 8000 acres, most of them because that is all that is left. This means that most areas I estimate are within 2 miles of a road you can drive a Ford Escort to. (Ask me how I know) I did not suggest the closing of a single road, but there are plenty who would like to take the wilderness inside and modify it for special interests. Often these groups do activities that cost considerable money. The existing county and old dirt ranch roads serve as access roads on the unit boundary.
    Many times I’ve helped older people pace themselves to get to points where they can see 150 foot waterfalls. And one of the more delightful times I took a first generation Korean young man on his first hike ever. He had been less than privileged growing up. He was good in school and when he graduated and got a job he hired a trainer, worked out and lost 60 pounds. But he had never been off of the pavement. He is probably in better shape than I. My son and I took him up a peak overlooking a deep canyon on a narrow ledge. Once he got used to his footing on rocks and a faint trail he flashed it. He was excited and so was I. The next day my son took him and his sister back to the aforementioned 150 waterfall.

    I’m middle aged, slightly over weigh, not especially smarter or faster, or stronger than any other woman, -err I did say I’m female. I’m just the woman do does this. I certainly don’t have to be the only one. Along the way I have documented and suggested several potential handicap access areas that could, for a drop in the economically challenged congressional budget, easily interface with our proposal. There is a 100 foot waterfall right off of the road, another at least 150 foot (three tiers) a suggested board walk to view a wild and scenic river gorge up close, and another to pier the 10 mile length of another river gorge from atop a peak on a trail. An finally one to include a blind and Braille trail to a point where when you “yodel” at the mountain across the canyon you can hear the echo bounce all the way around it, about a 60 degree turn. You don’t find this stuff out from staring at a map.

    Look around you, I imaging you see a floor, tables perhaps, rooms with four walls at right angles. Soft pillowy couches, or hard smooth tables, counters, a TV, stereo maybe. You got up this morning, walked down a hallway to the bathroom, then to the kitchen, later out the door, down a sidewalk to your car. You drove your car to work, walked the sidewalk into work, and the hall to your desk, like millions of us every day. Every step of every day is pre programmed, on a “track” for year after year.

    In wilderness little is smooth, nothing is at right angles. When you go every step is directed on your own, maybe for the first time in your life.

    I n recreational areas, the land is modified TO or FOR us. Bathrooms, water fountains, wide trails with arrows pointing the way, poison oak clears, snakes discouraged.

    In Wilderness We must adapt and modify TO it. For a short while, we bring enough water, food, warm clothing, first aide, proper shoes, learn to navigate, learn how to identify plants or snakes and how to co-exist.

    Wilderness skills may teach additional skills of responsibility, self respect, self reliance, and respect for things greater than us, or respect for things more fragile. Wilderness can teach us to stand in awe of something beautiful without having to “DO” something about it.
    What is the cost to society from those who have not learned these things?

    This square, smooth, safe, preprogrammed environment that we count on most of our time in? –the kicker is, this one is the fake.

  22. The Wilderness Act called for the Forest Service and BLM to identify lands that might be suitable for Wilderness designation. The Forest Service did that. There were law suits protesting that it wasn’t enough. They wanted all of the land under consideration locked up until further determinations could be made… twice. The required acreage for Wilderness designation was reduced. Then came Clinton’s Inventoried Roadless Initiative. He asked the question, “Do you want to maintani these pristine roadless areas in their current condition?” A number of us replied that many of these areas were not roadless and had been logged, mined, settled, etc. In most cases the Forest Service agreed. They did not warrant further consideration as Wilderness. In my area 10-14 comments supporting wilderness designation of an area constituted “broad public support.” One IRA received no comments supporting it. I don’t know how many commented or what reasons were given for not designating the IRA’s as Wilderness, those numbers were never released, but I know my reasons included roads, private property, past logging, mining, etc. Parts of two IRA’s were recommended for further consideration as Wilderness. One had few roads the other was cut into several sections by well established roads. We have well established, though small, communities surrounded by the National Forest in my area. These communities were established in the 1800’s. While the land surrounding us is wild and rugged, over 50% of it has been burned since the 1990’s. Pristine? It depends on your definition, I guess. Roadless? No way! Most of the people I know, myself included, think we do need to have areas designated as Wilderness for a wide range of reasons. How much? Where? There are those that would like to designate all of Idaho Wilderness. That seems a bit much to most people. Some think we already have enough. We’ve made a good start at designating some of the more suitable lands as Wilderness. There are some areas that may warrant further consideration.

    Not all of the IRA’s met the definition of Wilderness. It would be nice if we could narrow the discussion down to those areas the Forest Service thought were suitable for Wilderness designation and allow the public to weigh in on those specific areas. The local people need to be involved. If you are going to surround me with Wilderness some consideration needs to be made to allow vegetation management around my community. Our rights of ingress and egress need to be maintained. If our ability to recreate using motorized equipment is reduced some of us may move out of the area making it more available to younger people. There are no jobs in the area, but they can come and vacation as we do. Carving out Wilderness needs to be done with a scalpel not an axe. Wilderness designation is not an experiment, it is an Act of Congress that will take an Act of Congress to reverse. It needs to be entered into carefully with consideration to the economy and the people living in the area. Yes, it’s been a long, slow process. I think we need to develop more local working groups to look at the pluses and minuses of areas that may have Wilderness potential. What can be done to help the communities that will be adversely affected? Will the land designated as Wilderness have more protection with no management or would it be more protected if more options were available for restoration following fires, habitat improvement, recreation, etc. How can we make this a win-win situation?

  23. Good article Bill. Unfortunately, the comments are more of the same. Shame that folks don’t listen, reflect instead of react.

  24. You guys are still ignoring a point I made, do you want wilderness for yourselves bad enough to reimburse the millions of co owners who have to pay for your usage rather than costs being paid by those who cut timber, run livestock etc? It does not seem fair to allow one interest to be the only one’s benefitting and the cost paid by others that are shut out.

  25. I want Wilderness (Big “W”) now.

  26. nice post mr schneider and great info mr koehler. very informative.
    it is important to keep in mind that only 2.6% of the lower 48 is protected as wilderness. all of NREPA needs to be protected for future generations. it is imperative for survival of many species including the north american human.

  27. Marion: The reason why no one is addressing your point is because I know of no WIlderness advocate who’s main motivation is themselves. Wilderness advocates value Wilderness for the important, undeveloped wildlife habitat it provides and for the crystal clean water that flows from its ridges and basins.

    Wilderness advocates value the 2.6% of the lower-48 states that’s actually protected as Wilderness for the lack of roads, development, noise, pollution, etc found in those Wilderness areas that are unfortunately so common place everywhere else in this country. And we value that, for the most part, WIlderness areas are where natural processes can still continue, flourish and provide untold benefits to the earth and all its inhabitants.

    I’ve been to plenty of Wilderness meetings over the years and talked with lots of Wilderness advocates over the years (including those elders in our movement who were instrumental in the passages of the 1964 Wilderness Act) and never once have I heard anyone say something along the lines of “I support Wilderness so I have a personal playground.”

  28. “2.6% of the lower-48 states that’s actually protected as Wilderness”

    Umm…do you think a more relevant way to look at it MIGHT be by the percent of Federal Public land rather than just out of the total land area, heck maybe even include all 50 states, or are you hoping to start converting private lands to wilderness?

    talk about spin….sheesh!

  29. There are 4,025,991 acres of forest land in Montana reserved from timber harvest and 12,214,715 acres of National Forest timberland.

    There are 3,307,543 acres of forest land in Idaho reserved from timber harvest and 12,628,473 acres of National Forest timberland.

    There are 3,781,571 acres of forest land in Wyoming reserved from timber harvest and 3,880,807 acres of National Forest timberland.

    There are 2,591,606 acres of forest land in Colorado reserved from timber harvest and 7,812,754 of National Forest timberland.

    There are 1,905,543 acres of forest land in Utah reserved from timber harvest and 2,959,380 acres of National Forest timberland.


    Ahhh perspective, it’s a beautiful thing really, now doesn’t that 2.6% sound a bit silly?

    I’m all for wilderness but at what point do we stop moving multiple use acres into wilderness protection? That’s not an easy question to answer without first taking an honest look at the current level.

  30. So Matthew, are you saying that you do not intend to use land you want designated “wilderness” for recreation? That NO one should be allowed to use it?
    Or are you saying that only the uses you determine ok should be conducted on that land? For a single use environmentalist to say that they only “care about the land”, while locking everyone else out, is like a politician saying they are there to “serve the people”, while raking in millions in schemes.
    Thank you bird for posting those numbers, that is a favorite trick of distortion used by enviros.

  31. The “welfare ranchers” pay to use the land, those who complain that they do not pay enough are the ones who feel entitled to have the taxpayers support their recreation (playing), so they don’t have to pay anything. If I am wrong, Jeff, tell us how much you are willing to pay to have exclusive rights to use public land.

  32. You told us what ranchers pay, that si the minimum by the way, not necessarily what is actually paid for aparticular lease. Ranchers build their own fences and maintain them, control the weeds, clean springs and build reservoirs in some places that are the difference between life and death for wildlife. Check the tracks around one and you will see a variety of species visit.
    Now tell us what back country hikers pay, and how many of the trails they build, or help with, how much help they are in weed control, etc. Does it come even close to market price, hwo about the parking areas built for hikers what do they pay to use thsoe, how does it compare to market prices for 24 hour parking?

  33. I live in Oregon, and Oregon has Common School Lands, which were given to the State as a part of Statehood. The Common School Lands were section 16 and section 36 of every township surveyed. Additional lands were deeded to the State for Land Grant Colleges.

    Eastern and California timber speculators corrupted the system of disposal of those lands early on. Steven A.D. Puter’s book “Looters of the Public Domain…” is a description of that process. Consequently, Oregon’s School Sections were few and scattered, mostly cut over by trespass or burned over and growing reprod by the Great Depression. When thousands of acres of burned or cutover private timberland could not generate property taxes during the Depression, tax foreclosed lands that did not sell on the Courthouse steps became a drag on individual county expense rolls. So the State Legislature agreed to take over the tax foreclosed lands, and manage them to return money to the county in which they were located. It was a county by county decision, and some counties did not participate. The two thirds of Oregon that is desert and dry also had school sections, and those that did not sell, were leased by the State to graziers. There are more than 600,000 of those acres. They pay no taxes (I own a quarter section of a sold sec. 16 in the desert, half of the private land in that BLM owned township. The other half is in the same section, but in owned in smaller parcels..surveyor divided: an 80, a 40, a 20, and two 10s.) My taxes are $78 a year. Essentially, fifty cents an acre per year. $300,000 to the counties if those acres of grazing land were privately held. However, the State of Oregon leases their land, and they get close to $750,000 a year in lease income, and then spend $600,000 managing it for the Common School Fund. The Common School Fund is administered by the Land Board, which is the Gov., Sec of State, and State Treasurer. They appoint the Director of State Lands. And you know that every layer of that bureaucracy siphons off money to run their agency from the income. The Common School Fund gains maybe $200,000 on the best years from those leases, after they take out their $500,000 and more management fees. The land is worth $150 million at the least. If funding schools were important, that $150 M would go into the Common School Fund, the principal from which cannot be withdrawn, to earn whatever as managed by the State Treasurer, and the interest earning would go to school support.
    And, who ever owned the land would be paying property taxes to the counties, half of which goes to schools. But the cost of management, the end result, the money earned, all is of no importance in this argument. Control and ownership are what is important. And if you think that grazing fees ought to run a grazing management agency in the black, you do not know to what extent management can drain that money to run their shop. There would never be enough fee income, no matter how high you put them, to run the grazing management agency in the black. They don’t work that way. Cost is of no importance to government and conservation of finances is not part of their job. Theirs is to spend all that is alloted, and more if possible.

    Twenty years ago, the State Land Board and the BLM traded sections across the dry parts of Oregon to consolidate the school lands in blocks, and those blocks were then intact ranges that could be leased and managed more cheaply. Wrong. Ease of boundary determination was all that was gained. And access to much BLM land was lost because the trades allowed the BLM to designate millions of acres as Clinton era “proposed wilderness” just because of their contiguous nature and size. And, that blocked more grazing because access to isolated state sections was no longer needed. Meanwhile, Common School Fund money did not increase. Even when grazing fees increased. Management just increased its demands for its share. Essentially, the office of Governor, Sec of State and State Treasurer make their own rules, and they are in the ranching and timber business. It pays for office expenses. Pro-rated, of course.

    The “subsidized” public lands grazer is only the source for funds for the bureaucracy of management, and no fee will ever be enough to “balance” their books, to show that their “expenses” are met by the fees collected. The system does not work that way, no has it ever. That is why the first 25%, right off the top, goes to the county of origin. To make damned sure that the General Land Office, (nowBLM) or USFS, was not leasing grazing rights to lard their own coffers, build an empire. Oregon legislators were not that smart, and the Land Board has done just that. Only it is schools, not counties, that get the short end. Who subsidizes NASA? Why does a Farm Bill give Weyerhaeuser a $170+ million tax break, pay to buy up logged over Plum Creek Timber lands? School lunches are paid for in the Farm Bill, and then all farmers get attacked for being “subsidized” The ranches reducing fuels on public lands and paying the government to do so is not a subsidy. Paying people to remove fuels is not a subsidy, either. A subsidy is allowing free recreation use, complete with trailhead signs and parking areas, and roads leading to the trailheads, or boat ramps, or horse corrals.

  34. 1978?

    How many acres of Park land are up for Wilderness in THIS bill?

  35. I simply asked when the last time was, and you answered: 1978, in Florida

    I think I made my point.

    The distinction of reserved land vs non-reserved is relevant because wilderness is being proposed on land that is currently non-reserved, not lands that are reserved.

    Parks although do not carry the nifty wilderness name, are managed in much the same way as wilderness (timber harvest is not permitted, wildfire suppression efforts are limited, various forms of recreation are restricted etc.) and are therefore relevant in a discussion, about moving multiple use acres into wilderness.

    And for clarification, your comment below lacked the context of how much land area is available to even become wilderness. How about providing the proportion…. eh?

    “The 11 northeast states from Maine to Maryland contains ~1/4 of the nations population and only about 2/10 of 1% of the nations wilderness areas. This translates into > ~3% of total land area as designated wilderness in the United States.”

    A minute amount of this region is non-reserved federal lands so OBVIOUSLY there isn’t going to ever be a large percent of the area designated as wilderness.

  36. Durango is just down the road from the Weminuche (488,210 acres), fer crying out loud, and is near the Mesa Verde and South San Juan Ws, indicating that someone had better brush-up on his geography.

    You’re right, this ain’t Indiana, but let’s be clear–Indiana DOES have a designated Wilderness (the 12,945 acre Charles C. Deam W)! A better contrast might have been Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, or Rhode Island, the six states which have none.

    I must admit to not having waded through all the comments above (life’s too short), but would like to recommend an excellent video on the many benefits of Wilderness. Polio and cancer survivors, teachers, an outfitter, the developmentally-disabled, an octogenarian author, an American Indian activist and others offer heartfelt testimony as American citizen Wilderness proponents.

    American Values: American Wilderness is narrated by Christopher Reeve (just five months before his death). Reeve understood the value of Wilderness to humanity both as a present-day resource in every sense of the word (from the scientific to the spiritual), and as a legacy to future generations. Ask your library and/or video store to obtain it–some already have it.

    It will inspire those who already understand the necessity of Wilderness, and it might find a way to reach those who have closed their minds to it.

  37. bird, your ignorance is showing.

    1978 was when the wilderness in Everglades was designated, not the last time an NPS area was designated — that would be in 2004.

    As for the bill that’s passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House, it would create three new NPS Wildernesses and add to two others. In fact, to date, over 40% of the acres in the NWPS are managed by the NPS.

    You get to have an opinion — you don’t get to make up facts.

    And let’s not forget that while logging and mineral extraction is prohibited in wilderness (the latter excepted to Valid Existing Rights), the commercial use of livestock grazing is still permitted. Read Section 4(d)(4)(2) of the Wilderness Act. No livestock operator in wilderness has lost his permit with Wilderness designation without his concurrance and handsome compensation.

    As for your own “spinning” over percentages, you seem to be saying that only the FS lands count. (And, of course, you only pick a few select states). You don’t want to consider all the lands in out country when you talk about how much land is preserved as wilderness? At least be honest enough to look at all of the ~190 million acres managed by the FS PLUS the ~260 million by the BLM, the ~95 million of FWS and the ~80 million managed by the NPS. Then should at least throw in the DoD lands, if not the areas under the patronizing control of the BIA.

  38. George

    Two points:

    What portion of this proposal would designate existing Park Service land as wilderness?

    Doesn’t the proposal focus on the Rocky Mountain States?

  39. Pronghorn –

    The author of the article posited in his argument the suggestion that X number of communities were growing because of their close proximity to “Wilderness”, a suggestion that cannot be substanciated by fact.

    Durango’s growth over the last several decades has not been connected to its proximity to the Weminuche Wilderness Area. Try visiting the City of Durango website, the Durango Chamber of Commerce site, let alone the La Plata County website, and you will note that the “growth” in both the city and county has come from energy and associated construction. Recreation, and get this through your collective heads, is paid for by discretionary income. In case you folks haven’t noticed, discretionary income has flown with the wind.

    Readers should also note that the Weminuche Wilderness Area is not even listed as an attraction on any of the above sites. Why is that? A lack of foresight and understanding by the governing entities involved?

    I am not anti-wilderness – I question “How much”?

    What I am opposed to is devout proponents (or opponents) making blanket statements that have little or no bearing in fact. Again I shall state the following – If the authors contention about communities prospering because of their proximity to “Wilderness Areas”, then why are the four major communities surrounding “The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area”, almost 5 times the size of the Weminuche Wilderness, in, and have been in, a state of population and economic decline for over a decade?

    Because the contention made by the author was specious, and is factually incorrect.

  40. bird —

    I wasn’t referring to NREPA or the B-D proposals. NREPA proposes Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. It seems you think wilderness management is duplicative of National Park management. This is not the case, which if you read NPS policy you would see — and the added restrictions on management are some of the reasons the NPS has largely opposed wilderness designation in many areas. (This is nothing new — the NPS objected to being included in the NWPS back when the bill was first introduced in the 50’s). B-D has no NPS sites included, but this “small” bill is so flawed it doesn’t even mention the BLM Wilderenss Study Areas contiguous with the FS areas it recommends!

    I was referring to the bill that’s passed the Senate and is waiting for the Holuse (neither NREPA nor the B-D has done either — nor will they, in all likelihood). I believe the number is S.22. Designates most of Rocky, Zion, and Pictured Rocks; adds to Sequoia-Kings and Joshua Tree. In all, the bill would add about 2 million acres to the NWPS through all 4 agencies in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.

  41. “Durango and Coeur d’Alene aren’t near any “Wilderness” whatsoever.”
    I, too, am opposed to people “…making blanket statements that have little or no bearing in fact” and was simply correcting your mistaken notion that Durango is not near any Wilderness “whatsoever.”

    As for me, I am not anti-growth or anti-energy development, but like you, I question, “How much?”

  42. John,

    Actually, you are wrong . . . sort of. While the wilderness near Durango does not attract vast numbers of new residents to the area, recreational tourism does. In fact, it is the primary driver in the quality of life crowd that has put the town on the map. This is a central identifying feature of the modern American West. Moab, Vail, Missoula, hell even Vegas if you believe National Geographic Adventure, all attract new residents through their access to public lands. Now, wilderness doesn’t really fit the bill, but recreation is king in many western towns and cities.

  43. Sic em, John Molloy! Good stuff.
    Conservation biology really isn’t science. It’s aimed at using “science” that is “peer reviewed” by demonstrably-ideological “peers” and “published” in-house through the SCB journal.
    SCB’s mission statement actually discusses a “global perspective both in how we want the world to be, and how we, as a Society want to be.”
    Not how things “are,” mind you. And SCB recognizes this in their 2006 strategic plan where “powerful constituencies, interest groups and institutions should look to us as sources of sound information that will help them solve problems in a way that serves our values.”
    Does that sound objective and honest to you? Yah sure. So sic em John!

  44. Mike,

    I recognize that recreation fuels many of these small (Not Vegas, c’mon!) towns, be it hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting, etc. And as I pointed out, these communities are going to suffer the worst as this Bi-Partisan fueled Depression takes us all down with it because these communities depend to a great measure on tourist dollars. Such monies come from personal disposable income, which isn’t exactly in ready supply.

    If we are being honest, Durango was put “on the map” by The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad via its southern subsidiary, the narrow gauge Rio Grande Southern. It’s modern incantation is of course the Durango – Silverton resurrection, which is a steady contributor to the economies of both terminus towns. The State of Colorado establishing Ft. Lewis College there in 1911 has certainly been a consistent contributor to the local economy as well. I’ll guarantee you that the local economic contribution of the college exceeds that of recreation by exponential factors.

    I’m not arguing that recreation is not a positive contributing economic factor. Simply put, the major generator(s) in the economies of the overwhelming number of cities and towns listed in the article has very little to do with their proximity to “Wilderness Areas”. Can we at least be honest about that? I just don’t see where overstating the case by many factors is being intellectually honest, nor does it fairly contribute to an objective discussion on the subject.

  45. John,
    I agree, wilderness has little to do with the economic viability of any community in the West. I simply wanted to point out the fact that recreation is a major contributor to many rural economies. I doubt Ft Lewis adds as much to Durango’s economy, and the major shift toward tourism based economies larger began in the 1920s, but that is debate for another day. If we, as Mr. Schneider does, conflate wilderness with recreation than you are absolutely correct. The question should be what are wilderness areas for? If recreation, than we have enough thank you. If for greater ecosystem protection then we need to change the conversation. But that is not what the article is about.
    Yeah, Vegas. Not sure if I buy that one, but they will do anything to sell magazines these days.

  46. Recreation is only a generator of income as long as it is going on. Too many of the states are “fudged”. A couple of years ago there was an article that tourism had created 35,000 jobs in Wyoming. Now that is nearly 10% of the entire population of the state. I wrote to the tourism department questioning that. Well it was a type (altho a disclaimer never appeared that I saw), it was only 25,000. I then asked where all of these jobs were etc. It turns out every person emplyed at any time in either a service station or restaurant was considered working in the tourism industry, no matter where they were located or how much tourism they generated. Shoshoni service stations and restaurants were the same as Jackson’s. Tourism is important for some towns such as Jackson or West Yellowstoen, but the environmental groups are trying to shut that down in winter by eliminating snow machines.
    I wish I knew how to do stats, I believe environmental restrictions and lawsuits for more restrictions are responsible for a significant portion of the recession we now face. No I’m not discounting the effect of giving folks mortgages they could not possibly pay for, nor bad loans from banks. But the number of jobs that environmentalists have taken away by lawsuits and restrictions is staggering. Every timber sale that is pulled in the face of costly lawsuits takes jobs. Every lawsuit to prevent drilling costs more jobs, not only for those directly involved, but at the grocery stores, the auto dealers, housing sales, etc. Every rancher that is forced off the land is no longer producing food nor the auxillary products from cattle, the same with farmers because it is more importanat to have swimming pools rather than waste water irrigating food crops. How can we try to make work as the stimulus bill and still allow dreamers to shut jobs down?
    Wake up before our country is totally destroyed.

  47. Mike –

    Agreed. “Anything for a buck”, eh?

    Regarding ecosystem protection, in the purest sense as the U.N.’s “Agenda 21” points out, the ideal circumstance is clearly delineated both on their maps as well as in their verbiage – “Little or no human use”.

    The great debate then is “How much?”, “Who decides”, and then we must consider the following paradox.

    The article mentioned “Democracy” as some sort of panacea to our problems. If there is a soul who visits this site who truly believes such is the case, they only became a “believer” in this grand ideal on November 4th. The odds of them becoming disillusioned again in the not-to-distant future is likely high. “Renditions” anyone?

    Not unlike your reference above to selling magazines, our “Democratically Elected” Congress has been well-noted as a whorehouse for decades on end. If we study the increase in the number of lobbyists and the monies spent by them on their favorite “Causes/Congresspersons”, well, we have some very high-priced hookers representing well-heeled interests up on “The Hill”. A “Parliament of Whores” indeed!

    Nevertheless, here we have our so-called “Democracy” soon to be debating this grand piece of sweeping legislation. “Act locally, think globally” is the sustainability mantra, but in real terms, local political interests are to be disregarded in this case, are they

    So we are redefining “Democracy” in a sense, where “localism” and the “localvore” is to be politically disregarded because these creatures are apparently so intellectually challenged that they cannot be trusted to make the “right” decision on such weighty matters.

    Therefore, the wishes and visions of the self-anointed shall be submitted by petition to the whores who inhabit Congress, begging for the local lumpen to be powered into submission by truly “Democratic” means. “Call your Congressman!” “Localism” touted on one hand, a demand of bludgeoning of these one same locals by the greater State on the other. Such an interesting process!

    Ah! Democracy!

  48. A couple more items to correct various writers’ erroneous assertions.

    The Weminuche is not mentioned on the Durango CVB site? Did it ever occur to you that the FS requested that it NOT be mentioned — as they do other places? Many FS Wildernesses are so famous and have so much use (and the Weminuche is one of them) that the FS finds it easier to not “advertise” and then have to deal with ever more stringent use restrictions. Go a few miles south to the Farmington CVB site and you’ll see them proudly “selling” the BLM’s Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

    The National Survey on Recreation and the Environmnet, run by Ken Cordell out of Athens, GA, has shown there is a remarkable correlation between the counties with the highest population growth and the counties with wilderness designation. Note I am not saying there is a direct cause and effect — but there is a correlation. Many people want to be in proximity to these places. (Of course, population growth does not equal tourism, nor is it a function of second homes. It is actually quite more fiscally stable than either.)

    Also part of Cordell’s work is the finding that more citizens of every state in the lower 48 (I don’t remeber the AK stats) want more wilderness designated than those who think there’s been the right amount designated or too much designated. And these aren’t NIMBYs, saying “designate it in some other state.” They want it in their own state. True, the majority is slim in some states, but it’s there. So those of you who think “TRUE democracy” would put an end to wilderness designation should pay a little less attention to those who whine the loudest. That wilderness designation in places like the red rock country of Utah has been blocked is not a function of their being no popular support — quite the contrary, polling has shown support is overwhelming. It’s just that the opposition is powerful and very firmly entrenched. Your Parliament is whoring for YOU.

  49. Johnism rules. Nobody, and nothing, is right with the world. John wants peer-reviewed science, but says science is corrupt. He wants localism to overrule the current system, and it had better be flawless, according to Johnist principles. Who, except John is intelligent enough, self assured enough, and honest enough to get the wilderness solution right, I mean perfect. So John, let’s to see your wilderness/ecosystem bill for the 5-state, Northern Rockies region. As H.R. 980 moves through the 111th Congress, will K-street lobbyists and their hookers join with the Johnists, saving them once again from too much wilderness? Surely, only almighty John knows the correct answer. If wilderness isn’t for wildlife, or recreation, maybe it’s valuable as 21st Century entertainment. We’ve bear-ly scratched the surface here.

  50. Thank you everybody for taking the time to comment, and after reading all of your wisdom, I’ve decided to make two comments of my own.

    First, please remember that I clearly stated in the article that I wasn’t writing about “Big W” Wilderness like the Weminuche. Instead, I refer to our millions of acres of roadless lands that need protected, not those that already are Wilderness or National Parks.

    Second, please address comments at the issues in the article, such as how wilderness can be good for the economic and create jobs, instead of making personal attacks on other commenters.

    Thank you……Bill Schneider

  51. Steve – If “Wilderness” is for entertainment rather than the other, let’s giver er’ a go…


    It has a delightful ring to it – Perhaps I should start a new religion?

    But Mr. Kelley,

    You should know, given your penned erudition, that I could not possibly, to quote you – ” ‘let’s to see’ (sic) your (my) wilderness/ecosystem bill for the 5-state, Northern Rockies region. Come now!

    The key to the creation of any successful religion is the maintaining of “Mystery’s”, and once such are revealed you cannot sell “End of the World” videos to a cowed public. Or as was earlier suggested, a montage of frightening pamphlets about the imminent takeover of the Republic by evildoers flying Black Helicopters from the U.N.!

    If “Johnism” is to succeed, I’m not letting anyone know anything about anything until I’ve made a good retirement out of my effort. I need a Megachurch filled with maddened multitudes of “Johnists”, willing to part with their last read cent before the “Great Revealing”.

    Unlike Jimmy Swaggart and that batch of dummies, you are not going to catch me consorting with whores, whether they are on Capitol Hill, K-Street, or anywhere else. I’m staying out of airport restrooms as well.

    Like my Daddy used to say, God Bless him, “You not only have to be good, you have to look good”, and that stuff just doesn’t look good. You can’t fleece the flock if you expose yourself, if your getting my drift here.

    Smart feller, old Dad…

    “Johnism” – It has such a nice ring to it!

  52. Does the American Public know it takes over 130 pages to just name the individual areas to be included in NREPA? And then some are described by a “fill in the blanks later” line on the page? How does the John Day River Drainage in Oregon become a part of the Northern Rocky Mountain Ecosystem? Or the Silvies River? Man, that is a stretch.

    My question concerns that under the proposed bill, another Federal Agency is established to manage NREPA. The Bill states that Wilderness is not managed uniformly by the different land management agencies, so this Bill will create the National Wilderness Preservation Agency, or alludes to that. Under which existing agency will the new one be governed? Not Parks, since Parks is ceding their wilderness to the bill, or did I not read that correctly? I get the distinct understanding that NREPA is putting Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP lands under the more stringent rules of Big W Wilderness. How will that work in management? USDA and Interior are going to have land in the Bill, and it will be managed under the rules set by the bill, as interpreted by who?

    And deep into it you run into a little deal that says ANY unroaded area of 1000 acres that can be gerrymandered by a line on a map must be further evaluated as to whether inside this Greater Northern Rockies Ecosystem, those acres, too, should be included. So the bill has a built in acre eater and growth mechanism. When it address the Hells Canyon area as home to the Nez Perce, and Joseph, and contains their cultural history, is this not Wilderness once again becoming an edifice of past genocide? I thought the hand of man was not to be seen. You know, the purity test. And then we get to the Corps of Recovery, the anti-Lewis and Clark part of the Bill, and we create the Corps of Recovery to restore lands, over a million acres to begin with, to have complete wildlife corridors so the mega fauna can escape global climate change. Move north. Will the last Grizzly leaving Hells Canyon close the door and turn out the lights? They bother the wolves.

    Huge, over reaching, wet dream wish list….like a bunch of teen age boys plotting the takeover of Hef’s Mansion. They want it all. And then some. So where is the money? There is a multi million dollar signing bill with this. Tens of thousands of “Keep Out” signs need to be made. Oh, and the local land managers can close any area that native Americans want them to for holding religious ceremonies. So what will the Rainbow Family get out of that? PC gone mad.

    So, Bill, we are to only criticize the bill on its merits. This is not a wildlife protection bill. It is just a clever way to have another Omnibus Wilderness Bill, from Manhattan’s own, Rep. Ms. Maloney of New Yawk City… Her and Shumer’s money came to my State in the last election to give a schmuck state legislator whose day job was running a Habitat for Humanity budget the job of US Senator. Outspent the good Mormon and moderate Republican Gordon Smith by 3 to 1. I don’t like anything about New Yawk City, including Ms. Maloney. And when the Democrats whine about partisanship, just remember they don’t give a tinker’s damn about anything but the first vote in either chamber, the one that elects the Speaker or the Senate Majority Leader. The person who names the committee chairs and who is on what committees, and reserve themselves the Chair of the Rules committee. That is how it works. So the NREPA Omnibus Wet Dream Wilderness Bill and Wildlife Corridor Recovery and Wild River Bill must be looked at in its size alone. All I read on New West is about Montana with no Wilderness additions in 30 years, but this deal is a whole lot bigger than Montana. So if you would please pare it to Montana only, I would vote for it. I don’t live in Montana. Visit a lot. Go see a friend who has land inside proposed wilderness. He doesn’t care about more wilderness in his area. The USFS let it burn twice in the last 10 years. The second fire got most of his 500 year old spruce in the proposed wilderness, leaving a depressing sight, and muddy water for downstream drinkers. If his unroaded land gets burned over from WFU, all too often now, why should he care if it is declared Wilderness?

    If Interior and USDA can’t see eye to eye now, and they have a third entity now managing NREPA and telling them what they can and can’t do on NREPA borders, or near there, you know that gridlock and obfuscation are not far behind. And therein lies the problem. Single value landscapes that large will provide only despair to future generations. There will be technology changes that need R/W through what is essentially a block of land from the Canadian border to the Snake river, that will impede access to goods and people sometime in the future. Maybe we will be able to tunnel through about 40 miles and that will solve the problem. I doubt it. But do leave a gate on the border for the last elk, moose, to close on their way to Canada and less regulation and a better life.

  53. Bill, can you tell us how more wilderness is going to create jobs and help the economy? I can see jobs being eliminated, but not increased by more wilderness.

  54. Regarding the presumed “Economic Benefits” that are to result from result from such a move, perhaps a re-examination of the net economic “gains” that were supposed in the Biblical-sized document relating to Grizzly Bear re-establishment back in the late 1990’s are in order.

    Outside of non-disclosed fuel and maintenance costs for all the “Black Helicopters” and “U.N. personnel” required to surreptitiously sneak the bears in (humor, folks), what was evident in the tome was pure economic fantasy.

    Economists are somewhat like psychiatrists in that it is difficult to get two of them to agree on anything. In the case of the Grizzly study, two economics in fact agreed, because they were both from the same consulting firm. Their personal economies emanate from writing esoteric economic formula that are somewhat like the Federal Reserve – they can make money out of thin air and we are to believe it then “solid as a dollar”. Their task? – To show economic gain where there is in fact a net loss. “Voodo economics”, so to speak.

    Though I do not have the document at the ready (boxed in the basement), my non-hazy recollection of the alleged “stimulus” was as follows.

    In their report was in fact an admission that there would be net job losses in the areas situated in close geographic proximity to the area where “the non-essential experimental population” was to be released. The formulaic methodology used to determine this aspect was relatively sound. Then came the “kicker”…

    “Printing presses at the ready”, the magic of fractional reserve stupidity then blossomed from the pages. “A Net Gain” was thus proclaimed! How could this be? These two gentlemen assumed that there would be a huge increase in the number of people buying magazines that focused on the topic of the great outdoors, and the “non-essential experimental population” would be the psychological “stimulus package” that set this glossy papered, wood pulp constructed economic engine roaring down the tracks of endless prosperity.

    They did not mention in their analysis that these new-found jobs in the publishing industry were to be located hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from where the Great Bear was to find new residence. It was simply a “net gain” based upon assumptions that could not be proven. Regardless, the local economy was deemed to be a victims of the re-establishment.

    Flashing forward to the present tense, we have a “promise” in the legislation from the one same government that has spent the last 101 years mismanaging our forests (by their own admission) and whose ability to manage our economy is rightly suspect, promising multitudinous economic opportunities for locals engaged in reclamation activities. Hurrah!

    Debt is a good thing obviously, or the nation would not be 12 trillion in debt with a little “unfunded liability” problem now in excess of 65 trillion dollars. National Forests and Parks have been underfunded for decades, and the collective “we” are to presume that with the passing of this legislation that the monies (debt) committed to the reclamation of these land shall actually flow from coffers far away.

    What generally happens is that legislation is enacted, in this case more “Wilderness” created, but the monies do not show up to complete the promise used to sell the argument. Since we are “bear-ly” scratching the surface, it’s the classic “Bait and Switch” method the government, and for that matter, bear hunters are famous for. We (victim) are drawn to the bait (money) and when it is time to collect, the arrow flies. Sorry sucker – Gotcha!

    It’s Machiavelli, Baby! “The ends justify the means.”

    Since it is clear this country is financially and morally bankrupt, and due to the ethical and clear visioned economic management of the economy, the collective “we” are taking the world down the economic rabbit hole with us. Apologies to the rabbits, mind you…

    Do not fear though – we can all get into the publishing business
    since the “Federal Funding” won’t be there. At the rate things are going, we shall all become street-corner vendors hawking the glossy paged benefits of whatever while muttering under our collective breaths, “Brother, can you spare a dime”.

  55. Thank you John!!!!

  56. The jobs gained are restoration based, jobs lost are in the 5% or so of the landbase that might someday be logged, wilderness designation per se creates no jobs. It does, however, help wildlife and native fish make a living. It will cost significantly less to manage the same lands as it does today. Wilderness is per acre the least-cost method of managing federal public land.

  57. You are surprised at this, when the politicians in Helena don’t even know that Bison are WILD animals and not livestock? The livestock producers in this state, want someone else to fix the fences that hold their livestock, instead of tending their own. The livestock producers would prefer that this State be turned into nothing more than a cattle pasture. If that happens then watch the livestock producers start fighting amongst themselves, because someone else’s cow is eating more than theirs, or eating the greener grass, and their precious cow didn’t get that blade. Maybe that’s what needs to happen then the livestock produces can eliminate each other, and the rest of us can just wait until the dust settles then we can start over from the grass up.

  58. Ray,

    That’s precisely what I am proposing, what I’ve called “little w” wilderness or “wilderness lite.” I know it’s difficult to switch thinking to the concept of wilderness being a more general concept of protected roadless lands instead of something Congress designates under the Wilderness Act of 1964, but I’m convinced that’s what we need to do. We can call it ‘backcountry” or “primitive areas” or whatever.

    As far as “multiple use” goes, I’ve already had my say on that issue. You can read it at the following link.

    Even “Big W” Wilderness is more “multiple use” than lands designated for mining, logging and grazing. I’m not making this up. It’s stated quite clearly in the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act. “Little w” wilderness can be even more “multiple use.” For me, almost anything goes, as long as new roads and motorized recreation are disallowed.


  59. Steve, can you list jobs that will be created and the wages to be paid? Or are these just maybes?
    When the NFS pulls a timber sale that is well paying jobs lost, period. To say nothing of the timber produced and of course the beetle kill and fires averted. Call it greed if you wish for folks ot have jobs.
    As for the buffs, I didn’t know they were either livestock or wild, I thought they were private pets of BFC.

  60. I guess that proves my point Marion. Livestock producers don’t have a clue about anything but cows and sheep (If they even have a clue about them)

  61. Marion,

    This seems sort of obvious to me, but to repeat, so many people get their livelihood directly or indirectly from wilderness, and please keep in mind my general definition of the term “wilderness,” to not refer to Wilderness officially designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964. “Wilderness” also means national parks, wildlife refuges, and inventoried roadless areas. It’s a concept.

    I did not put specific figures in the commentary for a reason. As soon as you write down a number, all we do is argue ad nausem about whether it’s 10,000 or 20,000 jobs or 3 percent or 5 percent. That’s not my point. My point is our economy in the New West already depends on “eating the scenery,” and protecting the rest of our roadless lands would make it even stronger.

    The economy of northwestern Wyoming probably relies on wilderness more than any region in the country–all those outfitters and guides, resorts and all their employees, gift shops living on tourist income, hotels, motels, taverns, business owners who have a choice moving there and create jobs in a “quality environment” and all the rest of those businesses paying their bills with dollars brought in because people live there or visit there because of wilderness.

    I’d like to give you a figure on how many jobs, but nobody has this. Nobody ever will, but we can’t turn a blind eye to it and assume that more ranching and logging will fuel our economy more than more wilderness.


  62. Where would we all be if only someone had put all of the roadless land off limits to all but non mororized recreation 200 years ago? 100?

  63. motorized recreation sorry about the spelling.

  64. Better question, Where will we be in 100 years if we DON’T?
    Answer everything will be covered in Asphalt and concrete. THEN where will those precious livestock eat?

  65. Let us refer back to the challenge posed to us by Bill Schnieder (author of the piece) yesterday afternoon.

    To quote Bill:

    “Second, please address comments at the issues in the article, such as how wilderness can be good for the economic and create jobs, instead of making personal attacks on other commenters.”

    Steve – You commented that “wilderness designation per se creates no jobs.” I’m not leveling criticism of a personal nature here, but, does not your statement effectively support the argument I posited?

    No net benefit economically, in fact measured loss, and again, we are presuming monies shall flow from debt-filled coffers when even prior to the current crisis, Congress and the Executive Branch woefully underfunded the U.S.F.S., the B.L.M., and the National Park system. The presumptions are without a historical track-record to support them.

    And Ann,

    What exactly are you asserting? Are you referring to fences on Federal grazing areas? Under the lease agreements, the rancher is obligated by the terms therein to maintain the fencing, and Helena has no input or influence on those matters at all. That matter is part of a contractual relationship between the allotment leasee and the Federal Agency charged with the oversight of the range allotment in question. Such has been the case since 1934. “Helena” has nothing to do with it.

    If you are referring to Bison who leave the non-confined confines of Yellowstone into surrounding National Forest land and then onto private property (God forbid there be such a thing!), why should this matter not be addressed by both the State Legislature and the Federal Agencies involved?

    Fencing, whether around your yard (Private Property?) or on the range is not an inexpensive proposition. What works to contain cattle is generally insufficient to keep out Bison. As the Bison are, for discussions sake, like the Park itself, owned by the “people”, should not “the people” be charged with the financial responsibility of providing a pro-rated share of fencing costs to keep the Bison on Federal Lands and off that of the private landholder? Or are the acts and responsibilities of “The People” as the “agent or representative” of the Bison to be disregarded in law and the costs associated with their actions or lack thereof solely then a cost borne by the property owner? Where is the moral basis in that?

    You then assert that the “livestock producers (will) start fighting amongst themselves” over particular blades of grass and other specious assertions. Lordy! Have you spent any time in the small-town cafes in ranching communities?

    These people are neighbors and friends, not a bunch of vitriolic hayseeds bent on the re-creation of Hatfield-McCoy feuds. Do you believe that entities such as “The Montana Cattlemens Association” is full of a bunch of whiskey-swilling fools ready to draw their .45 Colt Peacemakers and disrupt domestic tranquility over a blade of grass?

    You need to get out more often.

    Unlike all too many people in today’s world, these people actually understand “private property” means “private property”. Though not a rancher, I myself have been subjected to “recreationists” who actually have pulled onto my property, and well in sight of my house (50 yards) and on clearly posted areas, began to set up camp.

    After one pauses and collects themself over the audacity of such behavior, you then go and politely ask the creature(s) to leave. I’ve had some of these these insolent tresspassers more or less refuse to do so until I was forced to escalate my mannerisms to demonstrate the seriousness of my purpose.

    Surrounded by millions of acres of U.S.F.S. land and they pull onto my little piece to camp. The side-effect? After repeated events I chose to fence, where before I had been previously content to leave the ground as as I had found it.

    Until respect and understanding is extended to all parties concerned and the vitriol diminished, reasoned solutions will be impossible. Plainly speaking, both the “All or nothing” or “Nothing at all” approaches are just plain wrong.

  66. Marion said, “Where would we all be if only someone had put all of the roadless land off limits to all but non mororized [sic] recreation 200 years ago?”

    Marion, I’ll wager that 200 years ago (ie 1809, a few years after Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery) nobody would have imagined the tremendous pace of population growth and consumption and development that we clearly see today in 2009. So your comparison is pretty useless.

    Besides, nobody in 1809 would have banned motorized recreation anyway, since the earliest examples of the internal combustion engine weren’t even developed until the 1820s.

  67. No Matthew, the difference is we know what today is like, they couldn’t. 100 or 200 years form now those living will know the results good or bad of the decisions we make now, we don’t. Maybe they will hate us for letting stronger people take over our country instead of protecting ourselves and our economy.

  68. Marion, Do me a favor. Print out your comment directly above and read it aloud while standing in front of mirror. Once you do this I think you’ll understand how irrational and bizarre your thinking really is.

    P.S. While in 1809 they never could have imagined it, TODAY Wilderness makes up only 2.6% of the land base of the lower 48 states.

  69. To Bill Schneider…

    I would like to thank you for your articles. Though I may or may not agree with their contents depending on the perspective presented, they are always thought-provoking and do encourage lively debate. Not always intelligent debate, but lively.

    A passing comment though in regards to northwestern Wyoming…

    There exists in economics an argument known as “economic equilibrium”, and the economy around Yellowstone has surely reached that economic circumstance. We both know as well that Yellowstone is a quite unique example geographically, and in all fairness, using that magnificent park as a benchmark to assume growth in other areas is a bit of a stretch.

    Note again the communities of Salmon, Challis, Yellow Pine, and Riggins in relationship to “The Frank”. If we wish to stretch some limits, Grangeville and Elk City can be tossed into the mix as well. Not expanding. “The Frank”, as beautiful and unique as it is, and I will be eternally grateful for the months I have spent inside its borders, isn’t Yellowstone.

    Most of the places located in Idaho that are listed in the Wilderness Bill that surround “The Frank” are not notably different, and by many measures, far less unique. Expansion of “Wilderness” to include these areas will not be a net economic benefit to the always struggling communities that surround that wilderness. They have already reached whatever economic equilibrium exists between their overall economies and the nearby “Wilderness”.

    As evidence? Properly so, the U.S.F.S. has had established for decades limits on the number of rafters allowed on both the Salmon and the Middle Fork rivers. Most of the visitors to “The Frank”, well over 90%, are there for those two rivers. “Limits” mean limits, and the limit has already been reached.

    Looking forward to your next thoughts…

  70. Well John Molloy;
    To answer your first question, and to be ‘pithy’ about it. NO!
    As to your second paragraph directed to me, The state of Montana is a ‘Fence to keep out state’. Thus what is good for the goose (keeping livestock off your private property) is NOT good for the Gander (Keeping Bison off your property) ?
    I would absolutely LOVE to continue this conversation with you about the Bison. Especially sharing the cost on fencing. I feel the cattle rancher that is bordering or in an area Bison may migrate (from the park) should have those pastures fenced with funds from the DOL Budget, paid by taxpayers, and NOT out of the pocket of the individual Rancher. The West Yellowstone Airport has erected just such a fence around the Airport, so yes it can be done. (But as was afore mentioned, that is not the topic here (directly).
    In order to clarify my first point about Helena. I was trying to point out that if those Politicians can’t recognize that Bison are WILD, and not Livestock, (as they showed in defeating HB253) And they passed SB337 (I think it was) 9-0 because some rancher was worried that a bison might enter his property, because said rancher isn’t capable of putting up a fence to keep said Bison off this property,(again I’m getting off subject but in order to make my point) and he lives in the northeast corner of this state, Then how in the WORLD can you expect them to even consider trying to preserve some wilderness for future generations. After all Ranchers are subdividing and selling out, everything is getting developed, the population is growing, and soon there will be no open spaces or wilderness it will be like driving from Long Beach to Los Angeles when you travel from the East coast to West coast.
    In response to your second to last comment to me;
    Private Property, Why should someone that Rents land (hundreds of miles from his home ranch) for grazing get his rights respected, yet the people that live there year around, Own the land pay the taxes, NOT have their rights respected? When does a ‘tenant’ get MORE rights than the Landowner? (again off subject)
    And to your last paragraph (of the comment you named me personally) I couldn’t agree more. Thus I revert back to; What’s good for the goose SHOULD be good for the gander

  71. P.S. Ted Turner’s Bison are NOT all over 191 or 287. Nor does the bordering ranch have trouble with Bison on their property.

  72. Molloy: If you haven’t owned or managed rental property, you could think a landowner or property owner would have more rights than a tenant. Well, it ain’t so. And a real good reason not to own rental property. If you have a weak stomach, are prone to puking at the autograph scene in “Slumdog Millionaire”, don’t own rental houses or apartments. Or at least wear gum boots when you go inside after an eviction. Not all humans are. If you let a horse or a dog live like some people do, you go to jail. If you try to make humans live like you can’t let pets or livestock live, you go to jail. They have rights, after all. Tenants have superior rights, and that has come about from the left side of the aisle over time. Environmentalists have aided the political point of view that gives tenants superior rights. Live with it.

  73. John Molloy,

    Thanks for the kind words and all your great comments.

    Yep, there is only one Yellowstone, and no doubt it is a “lay-up” for the point I’m trying to make, but I was addressing that to Marion who lives somewhere down in the neck of the woods.

    I’m sure smaller towns around the Frank, no different than the Bob, have a tougher time growing than Jackson or West Yellowstone. But where would they be without the wilderness, designated or de facto? Would they even be there? Or would they be like the little towns I lived in while growing up in South Dakota–a half dozen windowless buildings that haven’t fallen down yet and no people?

    It seems to me that wilderness (i.e. outdoor recreation based economy) is about the only long-term solution for these small towns, and I hope they can embrace it and make it work for them.


    P.S. Oh yes, the FS and it’s outfitting policy. That is a big one for me, and I’ll be writing about it soon. Related, yes, but mostly another story, and not a pretty one.

  74. Bearbait your comment; “Environmentalists have aided the political point of view that gives tenants superior rights.”
    How do you explain Cattle Ranchers that lease ground, getting preferential treatment over the private property owner? I’m sure those ranchers are NOT what you mean by ‘Environmentalists’

  75. Interestingly enough those who want snow machines gone from Yellowstone keep making the point that even though snow machines keep them going thru the winter that they are not entitled to be supported by anyone. It seems that recreationalists giveth and they taketh away. That becomes more true when only certain recreation is to be allowed according to what is politically correct at the momment.
    As for the ranchers, remember every rancher you mange to put out of business whether it is by spreading brucellosis or by wolves or whatever, that is that much more land that will go to either subdivisions or trophy property.
    I cannot think of a single country that has ever survived by making entertainment (recreation or any other kind) a priority over production, can you?

  76. Ann –

    Some good points, and why someone out towards Saskatchewan is claiming a need for a Buffalo-proof fence since the “Buffalo Commons” are not yet a reality is beyond me. Obviously this individual is trying to game the system, but painting the entire ranching community with a broad brush loaded with tar because of that individuals’ narcissistic behavior isn’t proper either.

    Perhaps Bill can address these issues in a future column so we can not be too off-topic.

    You brought up a salient point that kept floating around my skull but I did not address, that being the subdivision of ranches. No one argues that many ranchers do use federal grazing allotments. Without the leases of the public commons by a percentage of ranchers, they will in fact be put out of business.

    “GOOD!”, comes the chorus! “Welfare Ranchers!” “Blah, blah!”

    But ignored by many is the point you brought up. Many of these so-called “Welfare Ranchers” use the home spread to grow hay in the summers for winter feedback. Think “bottom lands”. High value stuff, and full of water rights.

    In most cases without the Federal grazing allotments, these ranchers will go belly up. The land utilized for haying becomes grazing land, and they cannot afford to buy hay and show a profit. Forced out of the business by the change in allotment status, the ranch, sans the allotment, goes on the market.

    What follows is what we have seen in many parts of the West already. The uber-wealthy or a consortium of slightly lessers buy the ranch, and soon their are log constructed McMansions scattered across the landscape. Construction, roads, powerlines, septic systems, and every other little thing these good people need is then provided.

    Aha! “Economic Stimulus!” All because the new “Wilderness” eliminated some areas that formerly had grazing allotments. I don’t believe this “Unintended Consequence” is what Bill was suggesting as a benefit of expanding “Wilderness”, nor is such a circumstance what most folks would like to see.

    Perhaps I am transposing my own perspective onto that of the general population, but would we rather see a single ranch house and a couple of barns on that several thousand acres, or those acres dotted with 50 “homes” and the place laced with roads and the obligatory Starbucks?

    I’ll take the ranch. Anyway, we should beware of the unintended consequences of our actions.

    (P.S. to all – Let’s face it. People who pay higher property taxes subsidize infrastructure and services in communities at far higher rates than those who pay lower taxes or renters. They benefit no more than the rest from said expense. Is it not then equitable to argue that those who earn less and own less, thus pay less in taxes but utilize the public infrastructure at equal or greater rates are guilty of “welfarism” too? The better off individual paying five grand a year in property taxes with one child in school versus the other soul with four kids in school and paying but $700 a year in taxes? How is that “equitable”? It isn’t – it is simply how it works.

    Did those better off pay more in State income taxes that subsidized your degree? Assuredly. At what point do we recognize that we have all benefited from society’s largess, that we are all guilty of being on “welfare” one way or the other? Does it comfort us to accuse others of such because our own lives afford us comfortable anonymity?

    “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

  77. John;
    First I apologize to Bill, for the detour, Then I will explain something else. The Ground, that I’m referring to, that is leased by the rancher from a different county, is not public nor is it Federal land, it is privately owned by someone other than the cattle owner.
    I agree, I would rather see the ‘farm’ house, than the subdivisions. Preferably I would rather see neither. But that’s just me. There are towns for people. The country side needs to start being left alone, or there won’t be one. Public lands should be used by the Public without discrimination, or shut it down to all.

  78. Ann,

    You may have to assist me here in understanding your perspective just a little bit more.

    Am I to conclude from your statement that people should be confined to towns and cities except for recreational interests?

  79. Ann: in the battle of haves and have nots, the left has taken tenants rights past the balance point, and left land owners, property owners, with fewer rights than tenants.

    There is a preference for people who own rentals to have them in State and Federal entitlement programs, because there is a guarantee of rents being paid, and damages mitigated, by the government agencies, on behalf of their “clients” of the welfare system.

    The defining court case on USFS and BLM grazing lease rights and responsibilities, which are equal on both sides of a contract, has to be the Wayne Hage deal in Nevada where the USFS unilaterally cancelled and took Hage’s grazing rights, including all his improvements. Hage ended up with his water rights to the springs and seeps he had improved and filed on, and the right to the graze a distance on either side of the canals and ditches that moved that water to beneficial use, among other rights the court upheld. He is able to run that water in ditches across Federal land without restriction to other beneficial use on land he still has the right to use or land he owns. Hage, and his wife, Helen Chenoweth, have both since died, but the Hage family continues to ranch.

    Public land ranchers do have some rights to the land they have leased, and the courts have upheld those rights. Tenants rights.

    And, every time a suit is brought in tenant rights, and they prevail, the law is changed or upheld. The impacts can be in areas not addressed in the suit. So, when you sue, you had better know that sometimes the result is everything you did not want, or even thought about.

  80. Another thing that needs mentioning in this tedious debate about how much more wilderness do we need than we already have, is that 2 out of 3 Americans live in urbanized areas which only cover 2 percent of nation’s land area. 95% of U.S. land area remains rural open space. Only about 0.9% of Montana’s land area is developed and only 0.4% is urban. Only about 1.5% of Idaho is developed and 0.8% is urban. This lust for wilderness, open space, and the so called anti-sprawl smart growth movement is actually nimbyism masquerading as environmentalism. In other words it’s the latest group of exurbanites attempting to claim entitlement rights as being the last settlers to move to the west, and the best way to do that is lock up as much land as possible using whatever pretext whether it be restrictive zoning, anti-sprawl or whining and moaning about running out of open space.

  81. Good point, MG.
    Get off the main highways or away from the “amenity valleys” and it’s remarkable how little Montana has really changed. But urbanites, or to rip you off a little, EX-urbanites, don’t understand that.
    Bill, an economy based upon wilderness is limited, much more so than that built upon multiple use including economic use. The old allegory of the hiker hitting town with twenty bucks, and changing neither in a week, is true.
    Buddy of mine went to Winifred for a meeting, right? So afterwards the beers are out and along comes a Subaru with college plates. Gas station closed, so the proprietor is rustled out of the bar, turns on the pump…five bucks. Just enough gas to get out of there.
    Never mind all the REI gear is made out of state, out of country, the food is out of state, out of country. What a prosperous drive through economy, eh?
    Never mind that habitat can be managed to provide ideal attributes for wildlife. Animals can be fooled pretty easily if the habitat looks like what they like and tastes the same. And that can be done, and IS done.
    As for the “jobs” angle you posit above…hooey. One time jobs, taxpayer funded, and that’s it. Real “sustainable,” youbetcha. The only jobs that ever come from wilderness seem to be fire crews as yet another firestorm jumps the line.
    Look, you grok out on YOUR wilderness all you want. How about if we have a US Wilderness Service, just spin off the concept entirely to a stand-alone deal. It can be supported by non-firearms, non-mechanized outdoor gear, maybe we should have a small gunny allocation based on hunter-days data. Let’s see if that model works, right?
    Let’s see the park service go the same way, maybe the NPS should go ahead and take over all the wildernesses.

  82. Micky & Dave, thank you both for bringing the whole thing into focus, so we can look at the whole thing clearly.
    I’m afraid you are being charitable Micky when you refer to the push for wilderness as being nimbyism. Frankly it seems selfishness, look at the push now to eliminate bicycles from trails so the hikers aren’t disturbed by them. Nothing seems to annoy a back country hiker as much as knowing someone else is enjoying the land too, or is using it in a way they do not approve of.
    They need ever more land designated only for hiking as so much of the wilderness already in place is burned by forest fires. Those fires result from lack of care, beetle control, and regular cleaning of the forests.

  83. Marioin;
    On this we agree, Hikers not liking anything but hikers in the wilderness.
    Reminds me of cross-country skiers complaining because show-shoers walked in the ‘cross-country’ ski tracks at Fawn Pass. For goodness sakes they are called cross-country skis for a reason to go cross-country!!!!! Just as hikers, can hike all over the terrain much easier than bikes, motorcycles or even Horseback. If you don’t like the ‘sharing’ the trail go where the others CAN’T follow. If you are out for a hike make it a hike, and not a leisurely stroll down the ‘avenue’. Not like the ‘wilderness’ is covered with trails everything can use. Plenty of foot only travel areas. But to NOT set aside ‘development-free’ areas is foolish. dirt-type ‘logging’ roads, old jeep trails that are already in the area’s should be still used. Hire your CCC’s back put them to work keeping those trails in useable condition for the enjoyment of all.
    Why is it so hard to compromise????

  84. Ann, actually I would either charge folks to use the trails or require that every user put so many hours of work into working on them. They want to have them maintained and taken care of and all at someone else’s expense. I feel every user of the forests should have an investment in them.
    We need real jobs, not CCC jobs.

  85. Marion.
    What to you constitutes a ‘Real Job’ ? I happen to know that CCC worker’s (or facsimile) work their butts off, and actually get a paycheck, and are able to pay their bills, are NOT drawing unemployment because of No job, but might because of ‘Job-attached’ status, and have to wait for the weather. My Dad was a CCC’er and built the Squaw Creek Bridge in the Gallatin Canyon as well as numerous roads in and around the entire county.
    I agree,too, that maybe making the ‘user’ contribute in time and/or money, but I also know for a fact that here in Gallatin County, we have many groups Mostly the motorized ones, that do trail maintenance all the time. When the snow is gone they go in on their ATV’s and clean etc. voluntarily. (I might add, that very few hikers can carry much trash etc OUT)
    Same idea could work in Wilderness areas. Again compromise, and work together, instead of pulling against each other.

  86. Ann, I think all jobs are important, it is the make work jobs that do not continue that worry me. We need real jobs for people. On top of that I think that trail users should also be paying to use the trails if they contribute nothing to maintaining them. I remember last year they had an article in the Billings paper about not being able to get any volunteers to help build a trail, and they were trying to get money to pay for it.
    It is ironic that the CCC built so many thing during the depression as a way of having jobs, and that started the idea that recreation was the most important thing in the mountains.

  87. Marion;
    And as you and I both know those mountains and trails are still there today being used. So it’s not like motorized, wheeled, tracked, foot or horse back transportation has ruined it. My dad took Packtrips and hunters up into those Mountains in the 30’s and 40’s, also and those same trails are still used today. Now if we can just get both sides to see that it can be done without eliminating any one that can show respect for the land and it’s animals. Compromise. agreed?

  88. I might add that Logging is a good use of a renewable resource, and can be done with minimal damage. As is seen again in the Gallatin Canyon and surrounding areas.

  89. I agree 100% Ann.

  90. By the way Marion this same idea could work for the Cattleman and the Bison, If only people would be willing to work together, instead of the Either Or.

  91. It sure would Ann, if not for brucellosis.

  92. Skinner: As I read NREPA, it actually does create the super Wilderness protection agency, and takes over Wilderness management in Glacier and Yellowstone NPs. Then it creates the Corps of Recovery, to obliterate roads, plants trees, what have you, to take over a million acres of “connectivity corridors” and make them appear to have had suffered at the hand of man. Of course, my philosophical question for that departure, does the land suffer more without the hand of man, being our experience with man not being a force in all North American ecosystem modification has only been in the last several hundred years of extirpated Native Americans, and designated Wilderness. To have what is antithetical to the whole of what Europeans found as “Paradise on Earth” and call it “natural” is disingenuous at the least. Just the end, by their falling to foreign diseases, of Native burning regimes, across the whole of the landscape, has produced a wildland with less water, less diversity, fewer species and less of those. To create this super Wilderness, the NREPA, is a good idea as far as keeping land from development. But the methods and rules are so draconian, and have proven to have been a dis-service to landscapes as wildfire has been promoted to the major management regime. If this land is so precious, as it stands, to allow it all to burn WITHOUT BEING PREPARED BY THE CONTROLLED, HUMAN SET FIRES, THAT SHAPED IT FOR 10,000 YEARS IS INSANE!. And that is exactly what Wilderness management proposes.

    I read Franklin and Maser, and if I buy into the lichens and mosses found nowhere else, that they only appear in late stages of forest development, how in the hell can that be used to be justify NOT fighting fires at the one tree stage, and NOT preparing the forests to be fired with regularity. A set by humans fire regime shaped and determined the “Wilderness” we all so want, the one that we visited 50 years ago that is now missing meadows and fens, and the understory is choking out the sun to ground. I see none of that in the NREPA. And without that preparation, and rules and regulations that allow that preparation, setting up millions of acres to burn is poor public policy, and short sighted management.

    I have no objection to creating a “primitive area” of that size. I don’t think those lands should be developed into road systems and trailer parks. Nor do I think they serve us a Big W Wilderness. The thought of the Park Service turning over their lands to Wilderness does not sit well. That they are mentioned and included in the Bill means those lands are not now protected GOOD ENOUGH for the purists, the True Believers. The concept of connectivity is true, wonderful and needed. And the first order of business is to make the deconstruct that will allow free passage over railroads and freeways. Have that be a part of the Stimulus. That project is fencing and bridges, overpasses or underpasses. Big time, many millions of dollars of engineering and construction. We need the jobs, and we need the connectivity. I want great bears in southern Idaho and in the Hells Canyon country. Build the connectivity now, and rebuild it if need be. That is the keystone to this whole deal, and NREPA is putting the cart before the horse. Take care of the animals most pressing need now. That land is still there, still undeveloped. I see nothing in the near future that will cause that land to undergo some sort of grand logging scheme of development. Unless, of course, someone slips Baucus the whatever it is he needs to champion their cause, and then Katy bar the door. His Billion Dollar PCT land swindle and tax break for Weyerhaeuser is still in play. And it is in play to some extent to buffer proposed NREPA designated lands. Tell the good folks of Montana that it is about them, and then the NGOs get their cut for being the middle men in this quasi 1031 Starker exchange, the facilitators, and they are shoveled millions of public dollars by the back door, as special interest recipients of the public treasure, by the wink-wink good ole boys of the Greenie Left in Congress. Of course, if a Trustee like David Letterman or some other special person needs some view property with security, I am sure they will get what they need from the Nature Conservancy (like it hasn’t happened before. Remember Martha’s Vineyard?).

    This NREPA is about a whole lot more than Montana. If Montana can get together, and put the NREPA lands that are in Montana into an Omnibus Wilderness Bill; without the creation of a super Wilderness agency to manage it; without the language to keep on adding to it by committee, and permitted by their bill, outside the Congressional process; without claiming the Glacier and Yellowstone NP lands and adding them to the Super Wilderness, it should fly like a bird. That would be a Montana Wilderness Bill. But to include Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Utah is not going to fly while this country is falling into an economic black hole. Confidence in government, and government oversight, is being doubted across the broadest spectrum of citizens, and right now government has a big job to do in just righting the ship of state in the maelstrom of world economic disaster. Whining about creating another job killer land use package is not going to have much symapthy at this time. For Montana alone, perhaps. For a multi-state proposal, not.

  93. Marion;
    What if Brucellosis is curable in Humans?

  94. Yo – Bearbait!

    You want to see Grizzlies in “Southern Idaho”? Do you mean Central Idaho? If not, could you point out habitat in what is considered “Southern Idaho” suitable for the bear?

  95. Way back there somewhere John said: Q: Steve – You commented that “wilderness designation per se creates no jobs.” I’m not leveling criticism of a personal nature here, but, does not your statement effectively support the argument I posited?

    A: Measured in jobs, the net gain, or loss, of designation is insignificant. There just aren’t that many opportunities in defacto, or designated wilderness. Now, depending on how we define economic benefit, the net advantage over the long-term can be substantial. It will, however, take retraining, rethinking, and some support from local, state and federal agencies. As long as the old West and the “new” West fight the limits of what’s possible on a relatively unproductive (in a commodity production sense) land base, wilderness benefits will likely never reach the communities nearby in any great quantity. Wilderness is the poorest, least likely to (in a conventional way of thinking) succeed, part of a generally poor state/region. There’s a reason prosperity (for humans) is illusive, and life for other species is precarious, at best. That’s exactly what attracts some people, and why other places have way more people with higher-paying jobs. Ya’ gotta’ love it.

  96. Voila’ John, you provided your own “proof” that man destroys suitable habitat for grizzlies — and not just in Southern Idaho. Roads kill bears. 1% – 2% left. At road densities greater than 1mi/sq/mi, bears have a hard time persisting. Grizzlies are essentially wilderness dependent. Problembear has a great map on his blog/website if you want the satellite view of Montana’s roads. In the lower 48, there’s just not that much left to conserve.

  97. Voila!

    All the while I thought Steve was a well-traveled fellow and was familiar with the majority of the biota in Southern Idaho.

    Let’s see here – The dominant characteristics found are bunchgrass communities with Sagebrush and Antelope Bitterbrush as the overstory, with occasional intermingling of Utah Juniper. And just about “dry as a bone” to boot!

    Now there is some perfect Grizzly habitat if I’ve ever seen it! Voila!

    Steve –

    What “proof” did I present that man destroys habitat by quizzing “Bearbait” about where in Idaho he was proposing these bears be located, given that the description I just gave is unsuitable for Grizzly habitat? And pray tell, point out anywhere in my prior comments where I argued that man does not damage habitat with certain behaviors. You will have to look real hard or read something between the lines, because such an argument was never made.

    Roads, schmoades! Where’s the critical conifer forest with sizable White Pine populations in Southern Idaho? Oops! It’s a damned desert! Steve! Embrace Diversity!!!

    You go off on some directionless tangent about road densities in an area that you would have to feed and water the bears because they would starve there! Have you ever even been there??? Ever??? Are you daft???

    After what you wrote, you have demonstrated that you have no credibility at all! It isn’t even worth bothering replying to your comments. There’s no “there, there”. Good God!

  98. Southern Idaho, SE Oregon, and Nevada east of the Sierras, is desert but with high mountains, and chains of conifer forests in nooks and crannies, aspen patches, rodents large and small, berries and fruits, deer and elk fawns for spring eating, and, lots of north slope snowfields and seeps with vegetation, grasses, that feed bears. If Idaho’s darling Senator Church had not been in the Idaho Power Co. fold, the dams built without fish ladders on the Snake would not be there to stop salmon at Hells Canyon Dam, and keep them out of the Payette, or Salmon Creek in Nevada, of up the Malheur and Powder rivers. That food source is gone, thanks to “The Frank” and his legislation to build Hells Canyon, Brownlee and Oxbow Dams…the real fish stoppers on the Snake…The 4 lower dams that all want to remove now provide the cool water and winter holding water for steelhead, which are now continuing their upstream journey to the stopper Dworshak dam on the Clearwater River. I would think the Treasure and Snake River Valleys cleaved by I-84 and Boise Sprawl, and mega farming further to the east, would stop about most any critter connectivity. But the snow is deep at Silver City, and off to the south on Juniper and South mountains, and on into the Santa Maria’s (if I remember the name right) or over into the Jarbidge wilderness….and then another Interstate and the Great Railroad from the east to San Francisco….

    The land is there. The land forms and critters are there. Not for hundreds of bears, but if one or a few were to take up residence, they could probably make a living. The dangers would be high speed transportation corridors and poachers. The roads that show on the maps of that country are usually not more than a path with the larger rocks removed, and a cut around a cliff. Those roads are not the danger. The freeways, and the two lane high speed roads, and night, that is what kills the critters. I knew an Oregon Dept of Transportation guy who picked up road kills on a 40 mile stretch of hiway in that country, and he kept a diary…he threw more deer into the pickup truck each winter than the ODFW allows to be killed in in the whole of the Whitehorse Unit, including the Trout Creek mountains.

    So I go back to my premise that the first thing we must do is provide a way to allow animals to get across the transportation killer corridors. When that works, forge on to find ways to connect the Northern Rocky Mountain Ecosystem with itself, and then the rest of the West…that takes money, capital, and effort, all of which employ people for a good that could last for centuries. One step at a time. The horse in front of the cart.

  99. Steve, Ann, et al. –

    And as long as I’m at it here, let’s quit dancing around and cut to the chase. I want answers, not prevarications nor obfuscations.

    Quote from Ann – “There are towns for people. The country side needs to start being left alone, or there won’t be one.”

    I followed her comment with a question that was left unanswered:

    “Am I to conclude from your statement that people should be confined to towns and cities except for recreational interests?”

    No answer provided.

    What is the answer to the query? Do either of you respect the long-established right to “private property”, or do wish wish to do away with this long established “right” to reach your goals? Please, all purists from the “conservation biology” perspective, chip in. We may as well understand exactly where all involved are coming from. Is there an intention to encourage the government to engage in Kelo decision-like “takings” of private property to reach a certain goal?

    And directly to Steve – Your so-called “answer” regarding the economics of “Wilderness is no answer at all. There are no classical economic principles involved in your commentary whatsoever, let alone neo-classical. They are not to be found in any textbook anywhere.

    Your proposition is amphorous at best, likely by design. You posit the statement that, to quote: “depending on how we define economic benefit, the net advantage over the long-term can be substantial”, without any supporting evidence. Zero. Did you ever take any economics classes above the High School level?

    Define the presumed economic benefit. You define it so there is a baseline. After “definition”, let’s examine such and determine if there are any classical economic laws that support your assertion or if people are making this up as they go along. Avoiding this rigor certainly suggests that what you are attempting to do is develop “Steveonomics”, a one man form of economic perspective that would even be laughed at by Marxists.

    You argue “There just aren’t that many opportunities in defacto, or designated wilderness.” Congratulations.

    You follow with the next insightful and conclusive gem:

    “As long as the old West and the “new” West fight the limits of what’s possible on a relatively unproductive (in a commodity production sense) land base, wilderness benefits will likely never reach the communities nearby in any great quantity.”

    What the hell are you saying? Are you arguing that if the differing factions cease the vitriol and the so-called “new” west perspective wins the day, then what benefits (unknown and undescribed by you) that presumably result will then reach the communities nearby? If so, what are they and how will they differ from the assumed “benefits” that the surrounding communities have in the current. We’re talking ECONOMICS.

    Try to answer cogently, not with a bunch of mangled drivel!

  100. Well John;
    I didn’t see as that question warranted an answer. And I still don’t. As I stated before what my preference would be. Although I know my preference is unrealistic, that doesn’t stop me from still having it.
    I don’t know what part of my opinion on private property rights you don’t get. I feel private property rights should be respected by everybody, Law Enforcement too. I don’t care if it’s one square inch or millions of acres if it belongs to someone and that someone is not you then stay off and keep your nose in your own business. If I want a Pack-Rat in my shed or on the north forty that’s my business and nobody else’s. If it’s public land or federal and is open to one, then it should be open to all. (i.e. if there are existing trails, and pathways, then they can be continually used.) and if that doesn’t explain it to you, no other way that I can think of will.

  101. Wow, great debate. Might I recommend a short book for everyone to read. The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler … Written a few years ago now, it is an interesting look at all the topics touched on but with a dose of reality about the future of all. Keep up the lively debate it is great!

  102. Bearbait –

    Southern Idaho.

    You are referring to an incredibly small slice of habitat to the very, very, far south in Idaho, almost to the point where we should be discussing northern Nevada rather than southern Idaho.

    Regarding “Da’ Bears”, you argued that “but if one or a few were to take up residence, they could probably make a living.”

    You are right with the “probably” part. But we are right back to the isolated population problem and the collapse of the gene pool in short generations. Then what? “Squabble, squabble, squabble…
    What to do?” More screaming an yelling and voluminous vitriol.

    And speaking of the horse and the cart – we’re broke. Effectively bankrupt. So bankrupt that if the charlatans running the show were C.E.O’s instead of our above the law “Leaders” and “Captains of Finance, they would have been arrested, tried, and imprisoned for malfeasance. How are we going to buy the horse and the cart?

    Broke, broke, broke. Every bit of the “stimulus” is borrowed money on top of more borrowed money. We have no manufacturing to get out of the mess we’re in. What monies are spent on tangible products, the overwhelming majority of such are going to come from overseas. We’re going to borrow money to “stimulate” foreign economies who still understand the principles of “value-added” products.

    We sold our economic souls to Clinton’s “New Economy”, which proved to be nothing but a tech bubble fueled by “irrational exuberance”, followed by W’s housing bubble fueled by the easy money policies of the idiot Greenspan who uttered the phrase “irrational exuberance”, warning about investing in the tech bubble. Whose running this ship? Oh – and let us not forget our grand little wars either.

    All the while, our manufacturing base was being shipped abroad and we simply bought back, on credit of course, finished products that were formerly made here. And what were we doing in the meantime, while not gambling on stocks or flipping houses? We engaged ourselves in the new “Service Economy”, a euphemism for washing each others clothes. It works for a little while – generally until you find that you have to import the soap as well.

    Then it all ends up just like Humpty Dumpty. Lying in shattered pieces on the ground are the bankrupt remnants of the “Warfare-Welfare State”, and all the Kings horses and all the Kings men (and women) cannot put it back together again. We owe 13 trillion dollars, and we can’t pay the repair bill.

    Grand dreams and grand schemes, and not a damned dime to pay for a single bit of it. We’ll be lucky to see September without widespread violence in the cities – The Piper is coming to call. Carts and horses indeed.

  103. Why, Mr. Molloy! Didn’t you LISTEN last night? We ain’t gonna be back seat and second place in this world economy. The Pres his self said it. He pulled the “hope” card. The “wish” card. At least the kid in “Slumdog Millionaire” got both hands filled and the autograph. Uplifting.

    In a very “bearbait” observation of the economics of the U.S., I see hope in the coming of age of Farmer’s Markets, Saturday Markets, where food is coming from small gardens locally, and you can use your food stamps to buy it. Local food and money staying in local hands. A start.

    I was young and dumb, and thought banks were honorable institutions until one of these recessions came along. I had a little salvage logging side, and picked up corners and salvage sales for a big outfit who bought my logs. The market tanked and I was having to mothball my side. I moved the equipment out of the high country, and got my final check, paid my payroll and all my bills, and then went elk hunting into the back country. One afternoon a game cop stuck his head in the tent and asked for me. I had to get to a phone and call my wife. I did. Holy Crap!! I got an earful. The check from the mill had not been credited to my account. It was from another bank, and they did have to credit it to my account for 21 days. And then they bounced all my checks, and the payroll, and the laid off employees filed on me, and I had to pay them all the time their checks were not good and a fine to the State Labor Commission. And it went on and on. It broke me. I couldn’t pay the payroll quarterlies, which I did have saved, but were taken in bounced check fees and penalties. And it grew and grew.

    So, even though this time is more severe than 1979, I know what some people are going through. And I know that government is aiding and abetting the #*&*#@$%^ banks in this deal, when in reality, the banks should have allowed to fall and at least we could pick up the pieces as a nation without having our mouths filled full of the “Slumdog” excrement we have to taste everyday with the pampered Wall Street losers. There are over 300 million people in the US. Certainly, there is an able replacement for any and all of us in any job. And the replacement might not be as skilled, but people do learn.

    If you have enough to eat (and Depression era pictures don’t show many fat people), a warm, dry place to sleep and cook, sanitation, clean water, and a set of clothes, there will be plenty to do to occupy time and to find things to do to maintain. This economy is not the end of the world…except maybe as we once knew it……and in time all will get back on track unless the free market is so totally absent due to draconian Administration meddling that we can’t get there from here. Mandarin will be a good asset if you can speak it well. And I would tell that to the Mexicans who don’t want to learn English, too. Mandarin.

  104. Roads killing bears is a lie.
    The Interagency Committee showed some GIS tracks that showed two significant things in the Swan:
    Bear travel speeds were highest in the wee hours, and slowest in the mid-day. Duh.
    Bear distance from roads was highest at mid day, and in the wee hours, the bears were transiting ON THE ROADS. Duh ble duh.
    I am certain that if you could track the weather, you would also find travel speeds lowest on nice days and higher in crummy weather…that’s when the humans stay home by the fire. Same deal with the distance from roads.
    The 1994 fly-over tracking studies were, by necessity and safety, conducted in favorable daylight flying weather, so they are inherently skewed. Yet no money has been available to put a Predator or other drone airborne, nor has there been the funding to collar enough bears to get a real sample of behavior. And as long as the science remains junky at the base…the lie about roads will persist.

  105. Bearbait –

    Right on, brother!

    I’ve been in similar dire circumstances due to “The System” and its never-ending, self-serving malfeasance. There isn’t a single point you made in that commentary that I have a contention with. Not a one!

  106. bearbait, I am afraid you are right on way too many things. Banks have been scr**ing us over for a long time. My big concern is the number of folks who have been able to demand and get, when we get in big trouble, I am afraid they will feel they are entitled to take from everyone and anyone no matter how.

  107. Hells Bells!

    This has been so enjoyable I wish we were all in a bar somewhere doing this in person!

  108. Skinner: I am only talking about Freeways…high speed roads with thousands of cars and trucks…the interstates…and some other highways. The skid roads, the two trackers, the improved roads with little traffic and that going slow, are narrow rights of way, low impact, low use, and I would say of no way an impediment to bear travel, or other animals…R.M. goats wander, and so do bighorn sheep. And across some mean roads. Moose, too. Oregon now has about 100..all new since wolves hounded them out of Idaho, and made Hells Canyon and the Wallow’s part of the NREPA. With passports or permission, the wolves have followed. And high speed roads have claimed several wolves already.

    I will tell you that since they pissed away the road maintenance funds from the timber sale program, the USFS does not grade roads. A road grader, a motor patrol, is a tool to blade away a minor slide. No road grading is being done. And on the ones with deep snow in winter, the spring runoff down the road has washboarded them to testicle rattling, boob bruising, tooth chipping madness…and that is at 5 mph….at 30, you would lose control on the first corner and be over the hill for eternity….all those roads are just a place to cross quickly, and disappear into the brush above or below…I saw more black bear than elk last season in the High Cascades….it is their time of the year to “fill ‘er up”. They were working over matsutake ‘shrooms, lily bulbs, carpenter ants, yellow jacket nests, and elderberries. Interesting color and texture to their poop. Oregon has an estimated 25,000+ black bears. There is bear food here. Just no Grizzly living here.

    I have often wondered if the Grizz in California was an anomaly from a hundred years or more of whaling, with struck but lost whales rolling up on the beach at high tide, and the Mexican hide trade of “Two Years Before the Mast” fame. All those cattle butchered just for the hides. Standard Oil of Nantucket offshore drilling for whale oil to run whale oil lamps, and Goodyear belting buying up the hides to connect rotary steam and water power to machinery in the factories of the industrial revolution. All providing this massive supply of carrion for Grizz and the condors…a good name for a band: “Here tonight, from Mission Santa Barbara, Oso Grizz and the Condors, playing their hit song, “I’m Carin’ about Carrion.”

  109. Steve-o-nomics views wealth and prosperity, or economic well-being, as something more than material accumulation within a rampant laissez-faire form of capitalism.

    Laugh here! I’ve heard the negative stereotype, before, but you may repeat it so compelled. Not textbook, but real enough if environment matters as much as money and big boy toys. We are in the process of redefining ourselves and our beliefs about values, wealth and prosperity.

    Wealth as material accumulation is fundamentally missing the values and factors that produce well-being for individuals, and society. Natural wealth, not just that which is extracted and turned into profit, is all around us in nature; often we just don’t see it or value it properly. Like wilderness, water and the air we breath, its value is not created, or manufactured. But it is inherently valuable independent of money and markets. Our well-being depends on a living landscape as much as those textbook goods and services that prove one thing for certain: we need new textbooks.

  110. A big problem is the total denial of reality. Teh country is in serious, serious trouble, that emans the citizens are in trouble. Still we have big shots, including congress spending money like there is no end to the ink to print it. And we have environmentalists who think that their entertainment is the primary focus of the country…or should be. I pulled up the Earth Justice site, they brag about having 171 lawsuits in the courts right now, and they are one group. Reality will be a real downer when the service station has no fuel and the grocery store no groceries.

  111. Marion: I agree with you that a big problem is denial of reality. Funny that you of all people would mention this, but I agree with you nonetheless.

    I also agree with you that the country is in serious trouble. Why do you suppose the country is in so much trouble? Could over-consumption and over-development have something to do with the tremendous problems facing this country?

    Also, Marion, Earthjustice is a public interest law firm. They are not like a typical environmental organization, which you are inferring. Law firms take cases from clients. The fact that a law firm might have a few hundred cases they are working on really isn’t much of a revelation. Heck, I’m sure most large law firms in America have a thousand or more cases on-going at any one time.

  112. Marion: so how many Justice Dept lawyers are or have been working on defending the US from Todd True lawsuits at any given time? Would they have been better allocated to run down the Bernie Madoff rumors? Investigate the liar loan industry? At least they got Blagojevich, or so it looks. And that criminal Martha Stewart. She did her time. They got Scooter, but that is all. So now we have Holder, from a law firm with more than a dozen clients at Gitmo…Does that make me feel warm and fuzzy? Nope. They have released enough who have made it back to the killing fields already. Catch and release terrorist hunting. Only in the U.S.

    I know what is next on the Stimulus agenda. Making a new rocket and payload to measure carbon dioxide, the gas that grows plants for animals to eat, and now declared a poison. The rocket carrying our CO2 spy satellite crashed into the Antarctic Ocean yesterday….$300 million bucks of marine pollution in the fragile Antarctic. Run and tell Todd True and Earthjustice Crew…NOAA is poisoning the Antarctic.

  113. Bearbait;
    Thank you very much for your comment; “Catch and release terrorist hunting. Only in the U.S. ”
    That is absolutely hilarious!!! The only thing Not funny about it, is it is TRUE!!!

  114. Koehler
    earthjustice is the law firm of the sierra club. started by and funded by and you know it. go find another a** to blow smoke up.

  115. Is Earthjustice a non profit? What was the reason they split from the Sierra Club? Wasn’t the whole deal about legal liability and a tax liability if the membrane between the two became permeable?

  116. Bearbait,, –

    Though off-subject and appreciative of your humor regarding “Catch and Release”, the following is grist for the mill.

    If one studies “terrorism” legitimately, openly, and long enough, they will ultimately find that the true terrorists occupy what are considered legitimate seats of power, sometimes elected to such and sometimes not.

    Our own sainted sepulchers in the “Beltway” have committed more acts of terror and created more “terrorists” in response to heinous policies than you can imagine.

    Search up a little book available on-line written in the early 1930’s by retired Marine General Smedley Butler, titled “War is a Racket”. Given Butler’s curriculum vitae, his perspectives on the subject and its peripheries can only be put to question by the willingly blind. Then, in the current, make exponential his arguments and you shall cease to wonder why we are hated.

    Add to the interventionism we have made habit since the end of WWII – the current evolving destruction of the world economy. Clearly understood by the rest of the worlds inhabitants, it is collapsing because of the culture of American greed as well as bi-partisan incompetence on the part of American political leadership.

    As people begin to lose everything and the inevitable starvation sets in, should we not just expect, but in many ways, deserve the “Blowback” for the actions so committed? Understand that the term “Blowback” comes from the C.I.A. itself, and is so described as an active and expected response from those who are victimized by U.S. meddling in their affairs. Kick sand in someone’s face long enough…

    To garner a clear understanding of this phenomenon and where the blood-dripping hands actually hide, read Chalmers Johnson’s tome on the subject, appropriately titled “Blowback”. A former C.I.A. analyst and considered the foremost expert on Pacific Rim nations, his work “Blowback” is part of a trilogy that includes “Sorrows of Empire” and “Nemesis – The Last Days of the American Empire”.

    Your world view will be changed forever.

  117. Molloy: “Do you believe that entities such as “The Montana Cattlemens Association” is full of a bunch of whiskey-swilling fools ready to draw their .45 Colt Peacemakers and disrupt domestic tranquility over a blade of grass?”

    Yes. They’ve already killed–by proxy–thousands of America’s wild bison…”over a blade of grass.”

  118. To my dearest Antelope and other associated “Challenged” individuals –

    The quote penned by myself and then inserted in the preceeding comment by this “Antelope” creature was in reference and reply to a prior comment by “Ann”, who stated the following,

    “If that happens then watch the livestock producers start fighting amongst themselves, because someone else’s cow is eating more than theirs, or eating the greener grass, and their precious cow didn’t get that blade. Maybe that’s what needs to happen then the livestock produces can eliminate each other, and the rest of us can just wait until the dust settles then we can start over from the grass up.”

    Returning to the comment from myself and quoted above by this “Antelope” fellow or fellette – To clarify the simple for the simple, my comment clearly argues that ranchers are not going to shoot each other over a blade of grass.

    The reference to “Domestic Tranquility” therein emanates from the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, quoted as follows:

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The Constitution is a “Compact” by men and amongst men, providing for a framework of law to hopefully insure the objectives stated in said preamble. Peaceably. “Domestic Tranquility”, in case you’ve never read the document before.

    The generic “Antelope” goes on to argue that by “proxy”, Cattlemen’s Associations have killed “thousands of America’s wild bison…”over a blade of grass.” Really?

    Let us examine the legal definition of the word “Proxy”:

    “A proxy is a person who is designated by another to represent that individual at a meeting or before a public body. It also refers to the written authorization allowing one person to act on behalf of another.”

    Well there “Antelope”, do you have any legal standard of proof to support your assertion? Any at all? Or are you simply engaged in emotive speculation and thought that using the word “Proxy” would give credibility to your argument? Prove your assertion.

    There are sad chapters in the settling of the West. The unforgivable methodologies and “reasons” for the elimination of almost 10 MILLION Bison (not thousands, as “antelope argued) are almost beyond moral comprehension.

    The factual history of the slaughter of the overwhelming majority of the Bison was the killing of them for hides alone, with the meat left to rot under the prairie sun. “Capitalism without a conscience”, so to speak.

    The second and somewhat more nefarious reason was the encouragement of said slaughter as a tactical maneuver against the Plains Indians, or “Indigenous Peoples” if you so prefer. These Tribes economies centered around the Bison, and such circumstance was recognized by both military strategists and the political class in Washington D.C. The continued killing off of the Bison was simply a means to an unconscionable and amoral political end.

    The “West” was not yet settled during the majority of this period, and cattlemen were few and far between. By the time cattlemen achieved both significant numbers and an associated political influence, the damage to the Bison had already been done. Compared to the carnage produced by the “Buffalo Hunters” and that so encouraged by the U.S. Government against the Plains Tribes, the impact by the cattlemen was minimal.

    Frankly, it is disgusting to either read or listen to such specious arguments. Such inane positions are intellectually fraudulent and of even less moral and legal validity than middle-class blacks demanding reparations for slavery from people who not only didn’t have anything to do with the institution, but likely were either “Proper Yankees” or immigrated to the U.S. well after slavery ended.

    It’s little different than picking on all hunters for the ill-thought behaviors of a few. Little considered by the “Antelopes” of this world is that “his/her/its” species was brought back from near extinction by the hunting communities vociferous demand for conservation measures when antelope numbers were under 10,000 back in 1910. The slow revival of Bison was triggered by the same concerns by the same group of people. And guess who paid for such? Hunters put their money where their mouths were.

    Credit for saving the “permanent things” and the “permanent places” belong to far more people than the John Muirs and the Aldo Leopolds, but to the Theodore Roosevelt’s and the hunting community as well, not to mention those horrible cattlemen who in many ways led the charge to modify their practices for conservations sake.

    This “Johnny come lately – Holier than thou – Know it all” attitude purveyed by some in the “Environmentalist” community is disgusting, particularly when such a perspective is expressed by the generally ignorant and undereducated. What we end up suffering through are specious arguments fueled by emotion rather than fact, and a waste of precious time.

    Antelope. Go graze on the grass at your apartment complex.

  119. We can’t manage the wilderness we have now. Whether it is “w” or “W”. Adding more designated wilderness will just add to the problem. Not to mention the smoke.

  120. “This ‘Johnny come lately – Holier than thou – Know it all’ attitude purveyed by some in the ‘Environmentalist’ community is disgusting, particularly when such a perspective is expressed by the generally ignorant and undereducated. What we end up suffering through are specious arguments fueled by emotion rather than fact, and a waste of precious time.”

    Goodness, John, it’s a good thing you don’t suffer from that kind of attitude and are thus able to mentor us with such wisdom.

  121. It is, isn’t it?

  122. Eventually we will have to sell all public lands in the US to pay off our national debt. There will be no debate about this. We will have to do it to survive.

    Environuts should start planning now how to steward important wilderness treasures when the US govt is forbidden by law from owning land. It is coming. The end of socialist-progressivism is near after 100 years of pain. Wilson to Obama – the lost century.

    Change is coming. Believe it or not.

  123. Harry, do you think the Chinese want a few million acres in Alaska for the billions in debt we owe them? I would make the deal tomorrow. We got a couple of nice undeveloped Islands in Hawaii that should be an easy sell.

    An idea: Let’s say 5% of Americans will EVER use these “Big W” Wilderness areas [defined as hiking in to an area that takes 1 days walking to reach and I think that over estimates by about 4% points], and we agree to set aside 5% of the lower 48 as protected non-motorized camping areas. Would y’all be happy and shut up?

  124. First, I’d like to address Mike. You are wrong. We get it. Since you want to hike on your days off, we have to give up our homes. It is no wonder we are tired of debating you. Once someone disagrees with you, you get nasty. I can think of lots of ways to insult wilderness advocates, too. I just chose not to use them.

    Next, I don’t know about other states, but in Oregon there 3.5 million acres of land that can never be touch. Ever. There are millions more acres that are grazed or logged, but can still be used for recreation. And before you start in about cow flops and clearcuts. Stop, before you show your ignorance. I camp in those places all the time. They are beautiful, and I’ve never dodged a cow pie yet. Someone mentioned above that it is ok not to have access for the elderly, because they had been able to enjoy the wilderness when they were young and now it was the grandkids turn. Well, 3.5million acres in OR alone. How much hiking those grandkids going to do?

    Lastly, Bill, I guess it doesn’t occur to you that some of us don’t want tourism. I don’t want to live in a place like Sun Valley or Vail or Tahoe. They are ruined. I want to live some place real. I want make my living at something I want to do, not as a servant for the tourists and rich folks who move here. Sure, wilderness creates jobs, as long as you want to make beds, pump gas, or serve food. See, you do want to take away our way of life. You cannot understand, because it isn’t your legacy. It is in the index-finger-wave from every vehicle you meet. It is in all the unlocked doors. It is in the all volunteer fire departments and ambulances. It is in the whole town turning out to meet the football team at 2:00am after State Playoffs, where they lost. It is in newspaper stories of native sons who have done well. It is in the $100 check written for the Cowkid’s Rodeo sponsorship and the one the next day for the cheerleaders and the one the day after that for the Boy Scouts and the one after that for FFA and the one after that for the Spanish Club and so on. Then, it is going to tell the wife that there won’t be a vacation this year, either, and she just smiles, because she knew it all along. But more and more the folks we depended on for the new football uniforms and bids at the 4-H auction are gone. They were the ranchers and loggers who can no longer use the renewable resources of the land we ALL own. Gas pumpers can’t afford to be that generous. And so one by one they fall and so do our schools and our towns. And soon places like this will be a distant memory. And all the while the wilderness advocates chuckle with glee, because they have gained even more hiking trails. Their greed is boundless and insatiable.

  125. Jane, thank you for saying it so well. Still, I seriously doubt they can even understand the concept of caring for one’s neighbors, and being willing to share with them. They don’t even understand the concept of building their own trails, maintaining them, or even helping pay for that instaed of expecting those they do not want using the forests to pay for them.