During the holiday season we give thanks for those things which make our lives better. Often, these are the simple things that bring us comfort or joy, uplift us and make us better people or bring us together as family and as community.
Among the blessings that I count and give thanks for are wild places. From youth through adulthood, I’ve cherished hiking and paddling in untouched back country and along wilderness trails. These experiences have tested, challenged and shaped me. They’ve given me strength and a better understanding of what’s truly important in life. In the Wilderness we are grateful for a warm campfire, a dry tent, and the sounds of nature and views that can only be had by getting outside and away from our frenzied life. We can’t buy these things in a store. We are fortunate to find such Wilderness experiences close by, in places like the Scotchman Peaks.
We live here because we share a love of the land, mountains, lakes, rivers and of natural places where we can work and play. Our natural resources provide commodities which are a part of a diverse and vibrant economy. They also provide stunning views, recreational opportunities and experiences which provide a quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Our outstanding natural setting helps to attract and keep a wide range of other business activity too.
To build a strong community we must find a balance in managing our public lands. People in our community have varying outdoor interests and we want to preserve opportunities for all of them. We want to find a balance where we can hike and explore, hunt, fish, pick berries, ride a mountain bike or an ATV or a snow machine, or simply snowshoe to a quiet place in solitude. Our community also wants opportunities for timber management, mining, and harvest of other forest resources.
The Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai National Forests have spent over 10 years revising their land management plans, basing revisions on the best available science, extensive collaboration and public input during hundreds of public meetings and several formal comment periods. The agency faced, and made, difficult decisions. There are so many decisions and so many points of view that likely no one would agree with everything in these plans. But they strive to meet all needs and present a balanced plan, allocating some lands for timber production and other commodities, some for various recreational uses, some for wildlife management and some for back country and Wilderness designation. We need this balance; it will build a stronger community.
There will always be different points of view on how to achieve the best balance in land management decisions. I am thankful that we have a growing community consensus supporting wilderness preservation for the Scotchman Peaks, recognizing the best value of this area is to let it continue to remain as is it is now, as a legacy for our children. These plans reflect that.
I am thankful that our community leaders, from forest service planners to business leaders to elected officials who recognize and support a balanced approach to land management and who recognize the value in preserving the Scotchman Peak as Wilderness.
I hope you will give your thanks too and show your support for our community leaders, forest service planners and elected officials who strive to accommodate a large number of viewpoints and find the balanced approach which keep our community and economy strong; who recognize the value in keeping special places, like the Scotchman Peaks, intact for the next generation!
Let’s all give thanks for the wild!