As you know I ride my bike all over Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and occasionally New England, this year it is Maine in September, where we go visit the ex-President Bush in Kennebunkport, he isn’t expecting us of course, but we will wave as we ride by their compound if we can see it from the road! And I am sure he will be thrilled that the Greatest Living Democrat will go out of her way to acknowledge his New England roots.
Well June 4th we were riding the CHaFE 150 in Sandpoint, Idaho. So far this was the most grueling ride of my life, mostly because it was 150 miles long and in the Kanisku National Forest. It was hilly, it no doubt wore me out, but it was a blast.
I learned a few things while we rode, I spent lots of time talking to Kenny who runs the cross-country area at Schweitzer. I learned about the Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness area which is right in the middle of the Cabinet Mountains of the Kanisku National Forest, the Scotchman’s lie in both Montana and Idaho.
I took this picture at mile 97, we were stopped here:
Yes these people have an incredible sense of humor and at mile 97 I did feel like I needed a MASH unit!
Well what we learned is there is silver in them hills, okay peaks and there is an epic battle going on between environmentalists in Idaho and mining interests in both Idaho and Montana.
According to the Friends of the Scotchman’s this area spans the Idaho/Montana border and one of the last, and largest, wild areas in that region. The group conducts education, outreach and stewardship activities to preserve the rugged, scenic and biologically diverse 88,000 acre Scotchman Peaks Roadless Area. They believe the Scotchman Peaks deserve congressional designation as Wilderness for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations.I believe that as well, as the earth continues to warm we must attempt to preserve these areas, as there are so few left.
It is going to be quite the fight over this area, Montana has not had a great economy as a state since the Anaconda company closed the Berkeley pit down in Butte which in 1982, and at that point the entire United States was still recovering from high inflation, interest rates and an oil crisis. Silver mining promises to bring some life to an economy that has suffered for 30+ years. This area along with the new Drumlummon discovery could bring some life back to an economy that has been in nothing but decline.
Idaho on the other hand, even though it is a fairly conservative state has done wonders with preserving wilderness and developing an extensive economy that has both high-tech opportunities and tourism. Preserving the Scotchman Peaks seems to be a goal of the people of northern Idaho.
Unfortunately because the economy of the entire US is not great, but in particular in Montana it has been in decline for 30+ years, so there may be no way to stop the development of the Scotchman Peaks. But the word has to get out there among people who are not just residents of the Idaho Panhandle. There is a way to save the Scotchman Peaks and we must work to preserve it for future generations.
It appears you have the same land use issues there in Idaho as here in Utah. I tend to steer clear of the political side of these issues in my blog and try to focus on the amazing qualities of our unique wilderness resources.
I am not from Idaho, but am from Seattle. I am a cyclist who rode the CHaFE 150, and rode through the Scotchman Peaks. I learned this from talking to the people who were running the event.
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