Letters From the West

Where you can weigh in and learn about wilderness this year

Ann Christensen of Ketchum hikes in the Sawtooth Wilderness near Redfish Lake in 2012.

Ann Christensen of Ketchum hikes in the Sawtooth Wilderness near Redfish Lake in 2012.

There will be many public conversations this year about wilderness in Idaho beginning Wednesday before the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The Commission will hold a public hearing at the Washington Group Plaza that gives people a chance to comment on any of the many issues it considers. But its vote the next day, Jan 16 on its draft elk management plan is certain to bring people concerned about wolves and wilderness.

That’s because the plan calls for culling two of six packs of wolves in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, deep in the heart of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The issue has brought lawsuits and outcry from wilderness advocates, many who tolerate wolf hunting but oppose eliminating packs in wilderness.

I’m writing about this for Tuesday’s Idaho Statesman.

But the College of Southern Idaho and the Idaho Humanities Council are sponsoring a larger discussion and reading series on wilderness beginning Jan 29 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Unfortunately for us in the Treasure Valley these presentations, which will run Wednesdays through Feb. 26, will be at the College of Southern Idaho Blaine County Center Community Campus in Hailey. However, folks at the Humanities Council say they expect to continue the series with events in Boise and elsewhere statewide.

Each session will be led by an Idaho scholar and will include a presentation and discussion of the readings for that week. These include Boise State University’s Lisa Brady, an environmental historian, John Freemuth, a political scientist, Idaho State University’s Kevin Marsh, an environmental historian, Author and College of Idaho Writer at Large John Rember and Jenny Emery Davidson, College of Southern Idaho Blaine County director.

The reading list is long and I recommend anyone interested to check it out. I just bought Michael Lewis’ 2007 book of essays, “American Wilderness: A New History,” which Brady and Freemuth recommend and I had not read.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West