This last weekend, the Montana Wilderness Association held their annual convention. The theme, “Wilderness on Our Horizon” is one that works on many levels.
With the nearly 700,000 acres of designated wilderness that are included in the “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, Wilderness is on the legislative horizon in ways that have not been seen for a generation. Attending the convention in Whitefish MT, with the Mission Mountains and Glacier Park nearby, Wilderness was on our visual horizon. And, the conference organizers surely also had the theme in mind as they invited participation from about a dozen UM Missoula students, including a presentation from two of them.
But for Wilderness lovers and advocates from around Montana, the Wilderness which might truly said to be on the horizon is the wilderness which comes next after the FJRA passes. Where then will wilderness conversation, work and designation go and how will it happen?
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness showed up in full force to be part of the answer to this question.
An afternoon panel looked at “Wilderness on our Horizon” from the perspective of emerging wilderness possibilities. The Friends Executive Director, Phil Hough, profiled the Scotchman Peaks campaign as one of the emerging Wilderenss possibilities. The audience reaction was very favorable during questions and answers as well as the informal conversations that flowed well into the evening.
Doug Ferrell, FSPW Vice Chair and MWA President Elect, delivered welcoming remarks as well as awards. Sandy Compton, FSPW Program Coordinator and Wilderness Story Teller was the emcee/host for the weekend. In addition, nearly our entire board showed up for the weekend to mix, mingle and talk about the Scotchmans!
But the hit of the weekend was a presentation by 17 year old, Trout Creek MT resident, Andrew Klaus. Andrew’s slides and descriptions of the Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness and Cabinet Mountains designated Wilderness as well as wilderness opportunities showcased the wilderness horizon seen by a 17 year adventurer who is full of hope. Andrews 3 minute video of a winter hike to the top of Scotchman Peak, literaly stole the show.
It was inspiring to see the youthful exuberance from Andrew and the UM students. It gives us all hope that the Horizon of Wilderness and other affairs of our planet are in good hands!