Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The White Clouds snow job

    I have read with concern the recent whitewashes about how “everything is fine, don’t worry about a thing,” in defense of management of the White Clouds in the SNRA.
    The facts are that since the creation of the SNRA there have been more than 50 miles of illegal motorized and mechanized intrusion on trails in direct violation of the very law that created the Area, Public Law 92-400. There has also been more than 30,000 acres of illegal snowmobile use on the east side and illegal permanent outfitter camps with their horse pasture dustbins. There are more than 140 valid mining claims in the White Clouds that can still be developed. Also not addressed are the three designated wilderness study areas adjacent to the White Clouds that are to be managed as wilderness until Congress in its glacial wisdom decides to address permanent status.
    Forest Service management of the SNRA has concentrated on the management of the Sawtooths, with designated wilderness boundaries and adjacent land regulation spelled out and enforced. For this, the Forest Service should be commended. The White Clouds side has been treated like a poor step-sister, as its status has been in limbo. If this qualifies as good management, then monument status is sorely needed on the east side to conserve the qualities that gave “protection” in the first place. The real value of the monument proposal is to provide meaningful management guidelines to the larger East Fork Salmon drainage ecosystem rather than the “rocks and ice” wilderness spotting of the high country. The threat of open-pit mining devastation is very real there and if that does not concern the head-in-the-sand people they should head back to West Virginia and sit on the “recreation opportunities” catch basins, but don’t drink the water!
Alan Reynolds
Blaine County


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