Recently we talked about an emerging process in North Idaho which may result in legislation which would include Wilderness on the Idaho Panhandle and would likely include the Idaho portion of the Scotchmans. One of our concerns is that such legislation would leave the Montana portion of the Scotchmans side hanging, sort of like a “chad” on a Florida ballot. What happens then, how does Montana “counted”?
If only we had a crystal ball and could say for sure! But we don’t. A lot depends on the timing and substance of any potential legislation for North Idaho. A lot depends on what happens (and when) with Senator Tester’s Job and Forest Bill, what it’s final shape looks like and how it shapes conversation about Wilderness in Montana.
Because the future is murky on this matter, let’s try an analogy: there will be many pathways forward, and more than one path may could lead us to our goal. There will be many forks in the road that we have not even reached, so it’s hard to say which we should follow. There is no road map and we won’t know till we get there and are able to look a short ways down each of the paths to whose intersections we have not arrived. Sure, we could speculate about what might happen, but that’s a parlor game more than a strategy. The real question is what can we do now to help move us forward?
We do know that building more consensus in our Montana communities around the idea of a Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is critical to our success. This will surely help us with any option we pursue. Before we can expect the Montana congressional delegation to include the Scotchmans in any legislative effort whether it’s as a stand alone bill or as part of any package of Montana bills, we must demonstrate that there is local support. It’s important to have support from our local elected and appointed officials, think county commissioners, mayors, city councils, chambers of commerce, newspaper editors. You can help us achieve that goal by showing your support.
Once we have a critical mass of local support we have a greater number of pathways forward from which to choose and we will succeed in designating the Scotchmans as Wilderness across the landscape of both states and all three counties!
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