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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — March 5, 2004


Outfitter asks for hot tubs in wilderness

Express Staff Writer

A Challis-based hunting and fishing outfitter is asking the U.S. Forest Service to allow installation of hot tubs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Mile High Outfitters asked to place the hot tubs at Cabin Creek, Mile Hi and Cold Meadows, all inside the wilderness area’s borders.

The Payette National Forest’s Krassel Ranger District is conducting an environmental analysis on the request, and has asked the public how it feels about hot tubs in wilderness areas. Thus far, many people who have commented said they are concerned about an apparent breach of wilderness ethics, said Lynn Wilson, Krassel Ranger District timber sale administrator and a temporary permit employee.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 describes wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

According to a letter from the Krassel Ranger District, the tubs would be set up in the spring and taken down in the fall. Water would be drawn from nearby streams, and each tub would hold 1,250 gallons. Water would be heated in the tub with a submersible wood stove equipped with a snorkel stovepipe.

Water would be cooled before being drained, and the tubs would be refilled about every three days. No soap or chemicals would be used.

Mile High Outfitters, which runs hunting, fishing and wolf viewing pack trips in the wilderness, has previously set up hot tubs for its customers, said co-owner Brenda Bullock.

"Clients after riding a horse for a long time have dinner and then jump into a hot tub," she told a McCall reporter. "Not everybody goes for the hot tubs, but if you take couples, they really enjoy sitting in them."

According to Wilson, this is the first request the Krassel Ranger District has received to install hot tubs. Though comments were sought by March 5, Wilson said more input will be welcome.

The Wilderness Act restricts the use of land, but at the same time generally allows for a multiplicity of activities, including hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and limited grazing.

Activities that are generally banned in wilderness include the use of all mechanized vehicles: motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, as well as all bicycles and mountain bikes.

The act states "there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road… and, except as necessary… no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area."

The rules include a provision to allow certain barred activities to ensure the health and safety of people, generally to accommodate the use of helicopters in emergencies.

The law also makes provisions for "the control of fires, insects and diseases" within wilderness areas.

For information or to comment, call the Krassel Ranger District at 634-0600 or write to: Krassel Ranger District, P.O. Box 1026, 500 North Mission Street, McCall, ID 83638.


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