Did Keith Kinnaird attend the same Clark Fork Scotchman Peak meeting on Jan. 11 that 160 other, mostly angry, people attended? You’d never know by reading his article, that the overwhelming number of speakers clearly rejected the proposal. You can’t blame the community for this, when they have been completely bypassed by the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, the commissioners and the U.S. Forest Service. None of the “supporting cast” on the stage, including Erick Walker, Sandpoint district ranger, could cite a single meeting in the past at Clark Fork, even though the USFS is required by law to do so.
The article implies that a wilderness designation would not prohibit hunting, but Keith could have read 36CFR261, which clearly does give the USFS authority to ban firearms in designated wilderness. The USFS also publishes informational guides describing the same.
It was quite surprising to hear FSPW and the USFS tell the audience that Scotchman has been managed as wilderness since 1987, so “no use is being changed.” None of the USFS forest maps (at least three editions since 1987) have ever shown this, nor are any signs posted at trailheads, boundaries, that describe this (if true, just more incredibly poor USFS public communication). I wonder if this policy is on tenuous legal standing and therefore, not shown on maps or posted on signs? Like much from the USFS these days, we are left to guess.
It was good that Sid Smith of Sen. James Risch’s office was in attendance — he saw firsthand a very different reaction to this, than what is commonly described by the supporters. It is time for everybody against or concerned by this proposal to let Sen. Risch know — simply send him an email or make a call. If they want to continue, force FSPW to restart the process, truly at the local level, the level which would be most affected by it.