Only 6% of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests are recommended for wilderness protection under a new land management plan adopted by the U.S. Forest Service earlier this year.
As Rich Landers of the Spokesman Review reported in his blog yesterday evening, a collection of snowmobile clubs filed a lawsuit, seeking to overturn the Forest Service’s wilderness recommendations for both the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai national forests. The clubs are also challenging the management standards for recommended wilderness areas, which prohibit snowmobiling.
The areas recommended for wilderness in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests include the proposed Mallard-Larkins, Scotchman Peaks, Selkirk and Salmo-Priest wilderness additions.
All four areas have been proposed for wilderness in past land management plans, although boundary adjustments were made in the latest edition.
For example, in the previous (1987) land management plan, about 10,000 acres in the upper Pack River were included in the proposed Selkirk Mountain Wilderness Area. Under the new plan, the upper Pack River is no longer proposed for wilderness.
I think that the Forest Service gave away the upper Pack River because the agency thought that it would satisfy the snowmobilers. Clearly they are not satisfied.