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    Saving the Scotchman Peaks Proposed Wilderness Area

    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.

    Cross Posted at The Angriest Liberal


    That looks like so much fun. Good luck with Scotchman Peaks. From what I read in this Counterpunch piece, industry advocacy groups are either buying off or shouting down environmental groups, and most people are happy to believe that all is well as long as the lights stay on.

    Interesting Article Donal. It is true and right now industry has a leg up, people are more worried about jobs than saving a wilderness area. But there is some hope as many there are a good number of advocates right there in Idaho and they are intent on saving the area. We will see how hard Montana fights to bring a new mine into the area. It isn't really far from Libby where there is tons of remediation at the asbestos mines, so people may be more wary, but those mining jobs are usually very good paying jobs, and that is something that Montanans need.

    A long-time friend of mine now lives in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.  She is an artist and often paints landscapes of the area. It is an amazingly beautiful place. 

    Riding through Bonners Ferry was fantastic, it is beautiful. The entire ride was beautiful, there were so many climbs that were long, out of Bonners Ferry was on of the longer climbs, it was 4 miles I think, but the views were incredible.  There are lots of artists in Bonners Ferry, it was quite a cool place.

    Thank you, Ms. McCarthy. My friend Sandy Compton, who happens to work for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, read your blog and told me all about the good things you had to say. I'm going to share it on our Facebook page,

    Thank you Monte! The area is beautiful and we look forward to riding their next year and skiing there this winter.

    Hi, Ms. McCarthy,

    Thanks for the thoughts on the Scotchmans, and your appreciation for what we are trying to achieve.

    As program coordinator for FSPW, I'd like to say that there is no big fight about mining or timber regarding our proposal. There is not enough merchantable timber within our proposed boundaries to bother with and no minerals that anyone is interested in.

    FSPW is a group that works at the grass roots of our communities, gaining support from the folks who live around the proposed wilderness by collaberation, cooperation, stewardship, education and community involvement. Our challenge is not with any group or industry but with gaining recognition and political impetus.

    All my best,

    Sandy Compton, Program Coordinator, FSPW

    Sandy, thank you so much for stopping by, the area is incredible, impressive and I think more people should know about that particular area. I am glad to hear that silver mining interests are not after the area. It should of course be preserved for all of us and our children and future generations. I was truly impressed with the people from Sandpoint who gave me their perspective. I keep your web site book marked and will keep telling people about the area, the better informed we are as a society, will insure areas be preserved. Thanks for your hard work!

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