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April 2007 - Wilderness Watch

WILDERNESS WATCH• KEEPING WILDERNESS WILD •wildernesswatcherThe Quarterly Newsletter of Wilderness Watch Volume 18 • Number 1 • April 2007— By Jon DettmannThe Need for Wilderness LitigationThere is a good amount of cynicism about thelegal system these days. Truth is, we havelong been cynical about lawyers and lawsuits.“The first thing we do,” Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI,over four hundred years ago, “let’s kill all the lawyers.”The line has a certain humor, even allure, yet today. Justimagine a civilization without lawyers, without litigation.How good, how amicable, how non-litigious lifewould be!As a lawyer myself, I am somewhat biased againstShakespeare’s approach. Maybe let’s spare the lawyers,but we could certainly confine them. We could chooseto be non-litigious, to forget about lawsuits, to take amore civilized approach. If we have a dispute, let’s talk itthrough, resolve it like human beings, without the needfor a messy lawsuit.I have heard echoes of this view in the conservationcommunity, and even among wilderness advocates. I haveheard accusations that our community and cause, and thegroups that represent it, are too litigious, are too willing to runIn This Issue...On the Watch. Page 5Wilderness Stewardship - The purpose ofthe Wilderness Act. Page 8Losing Perspective at Denali.By Roger Kaye. Page 10National Park Wilderness Neglect.By Howie Wolke. Page 12A Wild Endowment. Page 14And Much More!into court over the tiniest little thing. The argument goes that itputs the agencies that steward our public lands and wildlife ina tough spot. Make any move and run the risk of getting sued.Don’t make a move and get sued as well. Damned if you do,damned if you don’t.In some measure, that may be right. In some cases, theremay be too much reliance on the court system as the fix-all forthe environment. But to be honest, I don’t worry about thatproblem. I trust that the remedies and realities of the legalsystem will address that concern just fine. What I worry aboutis our reaction to it. I worry about the view that we should shyaway from lawsuits as a means of defending wilderness and thevalues that it represents, over any concern that we are being tooacrimonious by doing so.We have to keep in mind the basic tenets behind the legalsystem itself. The root of that system is, of course, the Constitution.This one, short document designed a government of three— Continued on page 3 —


Wilderness Litigation, continued from page 3Take out the judiciary and the balance goes away, as does thecheck on the agencies, leaving no mechanism by which toenforce the Wilderness Act against them.I do not mean to derogate those that bear the responsibilityfor stewarding our wilderness areas. In fact, I mean exactlythe opposite. Our government is, after all, an enterprisestaffed by human beings, who by their nature are not perfect,have their own opinions, and can reasonably disagree. Priorto courts, for hundreds if not thousands of years, the resolutionof conflict was a matter of the sword, a matter of mightmakes right. Our present system of government seeks toavoid that by creating a forum for intelligent, civilized debatemoderated by a judge vested with the power of the sovereign.At its root, the idea of litigation is that it allows two disagreeingparties to come forward and speak their peace to a neutralauthority, who then reviews the evidence and decides theissue, thereby resolving the conflict. To be blunt, the point ofthe judicial branch is to resolve conflict, not to create it.What better opportunity is there to advocate the values ofwilderness than that? What more reasoned approach exists bywhich wilderness advocates can air their disagreements withagencies to an authority that is obligated to follow and enforcethe law exactly as it is written?Indeed, such a forum lends itself particularly well to astatute like the Wilderness Act. It is hard to find a more clear,basic statutory command than, for example, there shall beno motor vehicles in wilderness. But the challenge of understandingthe Act is that the rationale behind such statutorycommandments is not so easy. The reason why it is importantto have wild areas free of motorized vehicles is not obvious. Itrequires an understanding of not only the inter-workings of allof the Act’s terms, but also the philosophies and ideals underlyingthose terms – as the author of the Act, Howard Zahniser,put it, the need for wilderness itself.In fact, Zahniser himself recognized that part of the needfor wilderness lay in its educational lessons, which in hiswords included “the lessons of history – a stimulus to patriotismof the noblest order – for in the wilderness the landstill lives as it was before the pioneers fashioned in and fromit the civilization we know and enjoy.” Such lessons of historyinclude our political history, the values underlying ourown system of government. On one level, the Wilderness Actseeks to preserve a system of lands that allowed the Americandemocratic experiment to occur and flourish. Likewise, theDeclaration of Independence holds that our self-evident rightsare derived from the state of nature – wilderness itself. As welitigate wilderness issues, we are placing our trust in the legitimacyof a system born from the geographic and philosophicalroots of the very lands we are seeking to preserve.So too does litigation lend itself well to the oversight ofdifferent lands in a common system. No lawsuit is an island.4Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was a renownedWilderness advocate.Each judicial decision that is handed down creates and becomesa part of a greater body of law in and of itself.While courts in different circuits and jurisdictions can disagree,all decisions, no matter how minor, have at least someweight. Whenever a lawyer steps to the podium to argue forwilderness, he or she is never doing so only with respect to theissue at hand, but is seeking an application of the Act that willexist in perpetuity, for as long as our government shall last.Litigation over the Wilderness Act is not only a check on theagencies that administer wilderness, but also acts as a continuoustest of the Act itself. If courts find the Act to be infirm, orunclear, then there is no better signal that the Act is not doingits job and needs to be strengthened through legislative action.As for the idea that wilderness advocates could somehowbe too litigious, the practicalities of litigation offer an effectivedeterrent. Lawsuits are hard. They require a significant investmentof time and resources, and no matter the amount ofeffort expended, they are always difficult to win. The judicialsystem must be used judiciously. A plaintiff must carefullyconsider the merits of every lawsuit in advance, to determinewhether the issue at stake is worth fighting for, whether thereare sufficient resources to see it through to the end, and whethera good or bad outcome will enhance or inhibit the greateraspects of the cause. No one who takes litigation lightly willadvance their mission, either by rushing to the courthouse forany minor dispute, or refusing to do so for any dispute.Be cynical towards litigation. Be wary of lawyers. But doso in the right way, a way that is careful in approach but bearsin mind the incredible importance that this branch of governmenthas. Anyone who has been in this line of work for anylength of time realizes that effectively advocating for wildernesspreservation demands effective advocacy in all threebranches. Wilderness needs litigation. If we decide to ignorethat, then the very resource we seek to protect is destined forthe same fate as Henry VI. SJon Dettmann is an attorney with Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis,MN, an experienced Wilderness Act litigator, and a memberof the Wilderness Watch Board of Directors.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


Onthe WatchKofa Wilderness, AZReprieve for Cougars - For 56 years, from 1944 to 2000,there were no confirmed sightings of cougars on the Kofa NationalWildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona. Kofa containsthe second largest refuge Wilderness outside Alaska. Based onrecent cougar sightings, refuge staff estimate there may nowbe five lions living on the refuge. This news prompted localhunting groups and the Arizona State Fish & Game Departmentto call for a recreational cougar hunt. In October, theU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed opening the refugeto cougar hunting, which would be the first ever cougar hunton a national wildlife refuge. The proposal would allow onecougar to be killed annually.“There are currently harvestable and sustainable populationsof mountain lions found throughout the Refuge,” theFWS wrote in an environmental assessment, “although thesustainability of the hunt once one lion is taken is unknown.”Wilderness Watch distributed an Action Alert and commented:“The sight or sound of radio-collared, unleashed dogschasing wildlife could have a major detrimental affect on thewilderness experience of other refuge visitors, and sends awrong message to the public about what wilderness is andhow we are expected to interact and behave when in it.”Fortunately, in January the refuge withdrew the huntproposal.Rainbow Mountain & La Madre MountainWildernesses, NVCarson-Iceberg Wilderness, CA.canyons since 1970. According to BLM, there is no other similarterrain available in Clark County.Training sessions would occur at night and also during thedaytime on 20% of the weekends each year. Between the trainingsessions and actual rescues, helicopters would be landingin these Wildernesses on nearly 100 days every year.Wilderness Watch distributed an Action Alert and submittedcomments asking BLM to examine why helicopters areused for every rescue, explore a range of public use managementtechniques that might reduce the number of rescuesneeded annually, and examine the feasibility of joining intraining sessions conducted by other regional search and rescueteams in non-wilderness.While the Wilderness Act allows motorized use in realemergencies, it does not allow it for training sessions.Practice Landings? The Las Vegas Metropolitan PoliceDepartment has requested permission from the BLM toconduct search and rescue training within two Wildernessesnear the city. The training would include dozens of helicopterlandings within the areas.The Rainbow Mountain and La Madre Mountain Wildernessesencompass very rugged terrain consisting of narrow,confined canyons and sandstone cliffs. The area is popularwith rock climbers. On average, the police conduct 15-20 rescuesin these areas each year, all with helicopters.Rescue pilots must have 25 hours each year of trainingand practice under conditions similar to those they will face inreal rescues. The police have been training in these particularWilderness Watcher, April 2007Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, CAGrazing is Moooot - The Forest Service is consideringreinitiating grazing in an ungrazed portion of the Carson-IcebergWilderness in the High Sierra. Although sheep grazingwas occurring on the Red Peak Allotment at the time of wildernessdesignation, it ended in 1993 due to resource impactsand the allotment has remained vacant for fourteen years.Now the Forest Service is considering issuing a new permitto allow cattle grazing, although cattle have never grazed thisarea. Wilderness Watch submitted written comments urgingthe Forest Service to leave the area ungrazed.— Continued on page 6 —5


South San Juan Wilderness, COAppealing Sheep - In December 2006 Wilderness Watchjoined with the San Juan Citizens Alliance and three othergroups in filing an administrative appeal of a Forest Servicedecision to re-open eight sheep allotments for grazing in theSouth San Juan Wilderness. The grazing permits had beenwaived 12 years ago and the allotments have been vacant eversince. The Forest Service plans to issue permits to two newlivestock permittees and resume sheep grazing in the highelevation lake basins along the Continental Divide. Althoughthe Wilderness Act allows livestock grazing to continue in Wildernesswhere it was an established use prior to Wildernessdesignation, we argued that the Act does not allow grazing toresume once it has ceased for a significant period of time. Unfortunately,the Forest Supervisor recently upheld the districtranger’s decision so we are considering our options.A Mountain Yellow-legged Frog. Photo by Gary Nafis.decline throughout the High Sierra, in part due to predationby non-native fish. While we support fish removal we havenot supported poison as the means. We’ve urged that doingthe least harm in the process should be the top priority, nottime or convenience. The poisons would kill all gill-breathingspecies, including macro-invertebrates upon which MYLFdepend for food, and MYLF tadpoles, which remain in tadpolestage for up to four years. We continue to follow this proposalclosely.California Desert WildernessesSequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, CAMajor Trails, Minimum Wilderness - In December WildernessWatch sent a letter to the NPS describing several problemswith Sequoia-Kings Canyon new general managementplan (GMP) and requesting that the National Park Service(NPS) not sign the plan until those issues are resolved. Oneproblem is that the new plan would zone the Wilderness intothree zones and in the new Major Trails Zone an unlimitednumber of visitor use facilities can be constructed, includingtoilets, ranger cabins, and food storage lockers. To date, NPShas not signed off on the plan so we hope that means publiccomment has stirred some continued internal discussion.Of Frogs & Fishes - In January Wilderness Watch providedNPS with written comments on a proposal to poison85 high-elevation lakes in wilderness to remove non-nativetrout that had previously been stocked in the naturally fishlesslakes. The purpose of the project is to protect the MountainYellow-legged Frog (MYLF), whose populations are in steepGuzzlers Galore! In 2001 Wilderness Watch submittedour first comment letter on a proposal to allow the CaliforniaDepartment of Fish & Game (CDFG) to construct a newartificial water development, called a “guzzler,” within theSheephole Valley Wilderness. In 2003, after BLM issued asecond environmental assessment on this guzzler, we workedin a coalition with several other groups to successfully haltthe project on appeal. Now, in 2007, BLM has issued a thirdenvironmental assessment on this very same guzzler and weA water truck fills a guzzler in the Cabeza-Prieta Wilderness.6Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


are once again preparing joint comments as a coalition. TheCDFG are clearly determined!No new guzzlers have been constructed in any Wildernessin the California Desert since 1994 when Congress designated69 areas as Wilderness. This first guzzler in the SheepholeValley Wilderness is therefore an important test. If CDFG succeeds,it then hopes to construct five more new guzzlers thatwould result in 37 miles of new vehicle routes in the Wilderness.BLM estimates there would be at least one motor vehiclein this Wilderness, on average, on one out of every four daysof the year.The CDFG is also requesting permission to construct twonew guzzlers in the Orocopia Mountains and Indian PassWildernesses. Wilderness Watch is tackling those proposalsas well. The CDFG wants to vastly increase its networkof existing artificial waters on the unsubstantiated belief thatthis would open up new habitat for desert bighorns, a lucrativespecies for CDFG through sale of hunting permits. Theywant the Sheephole Valley Wilderness to serve as a centralizedsource for sheep that will then be transplanted to other areasas the guzzler network expands. SOut & About - Wilderness Watch on the RoadChanging Trends in RecreationIn January, WW executive director George Nickas participatedin a three-day workshop “Wilderness Stewardshipin the Rockies,” sponsored by the Rocky Mountains CooperativeEcosystem Studies Unit. The focus of the workshop waschanging trends in recreation. The workshop was designedto bring agency managers together to learn, share and discusschanging users/societal issues, changing uses, and managementstrategies and tools. As part of the workshop, Georgespoke on a panel discussing appropriate management responsesto current and future recreation challenges.Wildlife & WildernessIn February Wilderness Watch policy director TinaMarieEkker was asked to speak to two Hellgate High School wildlifebiology classes in Missoula about wildlife management inWilderness. She discussed what Wilderness is, the intent ofthe Wilderness Act, and activities that are prohibited such asmotor vehicles and placement of structures or installations.She also explained the roles of State and federal managers inregard to wildlife management, noting that while the WildernessAct allows States to continue to regulate hunting and fishing,it does not give the States authority to manage or manipulatehabitat such as vegetation or waterways.Wilderness and the CourtsIn March, WW executive director George Nickas wasinvited to speak to the University of Montana’s Wildernessand Civilization wilderness policy course about how thecourts have interpreted the Wilderness Act. He talked aboutthe structure of the Wilderness Act, its emphasis on preservingwilderness character, and how management actions designedto provide for various public uses of Wilderness need to complywith the law’s preservation mandate. George used severalrecent court decisions to illustrate these points.An evening with the Jackson HoleConservation AllianceAlso in March, Wilderness Watch president Howie Wolkeand executive director George Nickas were hosted by theJackson Hole Conservation Alliance in Jackson, Wyoming fora presentation on challenges facing the National WildernessPreservation System. Howie presented a slide show exhibitingWilderness in various parts of the country, and spoke of managementchallenges in the Greater Yellowstone region, particularlyin the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park, wherehe has guided backpacking trips for two decades. Georgedescribed in words and pictures some of the key managementchallenges facing the Wilderness system. The evening discussionalso gave us an opportunity to learn more about threatsfacing wildlife and wildlands in the Jackson area.Wilderness Watcher, April 20077


Wilderness StewardshipConcepts & PrinciplesPurpose of the Wilderness ActThe purpose of the Wilderness Act is topreserve the wilderness character of theareas to be included in the wildernesssystem, not to establish any particular use.— Howard Zahniser, author of the WildernessAct, 1962.Understanding the purpose of the Wilderness Act is essentialto being a good wilderness advocate or steward.While it seems self-evident that the purpose of the law is—asZahniser so clearly stated—to preserve wilderness character,this basic principle is often ignored when decisions affectingWilderness are made. Misunderstanding this central point isthe cause of many unnecessary controversies and of much ofthe impairment of Wilderness that we see today.Most wilderness advocates are aware that the Wilderness Actprohibits motorized equipment, mechanical transport, structuresand installations within Wilderness. We also know that the Actprovides for an exception to these prohibitions in those rare caseswhere it is “necessary to meet minimum requirements for theadministration of the area for the purpose of the Act.” (emphasisadded). Thus, the exception only applies if the use of a motorvehicle or structure, for example, is necessary to preserve thearea’s wilderness character. It is unquestionably a high standard,and rightfully so, since the Wilderness Act intended to keep thesespecial places permanently free of mechanical devices and otherevidences of modern society.This article focuses on understanding the key distinctionbetween the purpose of the Act, and the public purposes of Wilderness.Why is this such a central and important point? Becausenot understanding this difference results in misguided decisionssuch as those to rebuild dams in the Emigrant Wilderness, airlifttrailside shelters into the Olympic Wilderness, land helicoptersfor vegetation surveys throughout southeastern Alaska Wildernesses,drive tourists through the Cumberland Island Wilderness,and the recent profusion in use of chainsaws, helicopters, bridges,cabins, corrals and other intrusions for recreation purposes acrossthe Wilderness system.8Mt. Baker Wilderness, WA.It’s worth noting that a complete understanding of thepurpose of the Act requires an understanding of what is meantby “wilderness character.” Previous issues of the WildernessWatcher have discussed the meaning of wilderness character indetail (see Vol. 14, No. 4 Nov. 2003; Vol. 17, No. 2 Oct. 2005), andwon’t be repeated here. Suffice to say that wilderness characteris understood as being a complex mix of both tangible andintangible qualities, and that preserving wilderness character isthe overarching mandate of the law:“… each agency administering any area designated aswilderness shall be responsible for preserving the wildernesscharacter of the area….”Wilderness Act, Section 4(b)Understanding wilderness character is important, yet toavoid the kind of management mistakes and unnecessary controversiesthat plague Wilderness today it is usually enough tounderstand the difference between the purpose of the Act andthe public purposes of Wilderness.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


Administrative structures should be evaluated periodically to determine whetherthey are the minimum required to protect Wilderness.Though the Forest Service claims that dams in the Emigrant Wilderness serve therecreational, scenic, scientific, educational and historical purposes of Wilderness,a federal court correctly found that rebuilding or operating the dams is unlawfulbecause would be contrary to the purpose of the Wilderness Act.Purpose of the Act versus Public Purposes of WildernessThe purpose of the Wilderness Act, to preserve each area’swilderness character, is often confused with the “public purposes”of Wilderness referred to elsewhere in the Wilderness Act:“Except as otherwise provided in this Act, wildernessareas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational,scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, andhistorical use.”Wilderness Act, Section 4(b)These “public purposes” are not the statutory purpose ofthe Act, they are the appropriate purposes for which the publicmay use Wilderness. The “public purposes” are permissible useswhere and when appropriate and conducted in a manner thatis compatible with Wilderness. However, the allowable publicpurposes or uses do not override the Act’s statutory purpose topreserve wilderness character.This is a key point: the Wilderness Act does not allowmanagers to exercise the administrative exception (i.e. usinghelicopters, snowmobiles, chainsaws etc.) in order to facilitate orpromote the public purposes or uses of Wilderness. Instead, theexception is limited to those rare instances where such action isnecessary to preserve the area’s wilderness character.Thus, when the National Park Service decided to installtrailside shelters in the Olympic Wilderness in order to facilitaterecreation and historical uses the courts had no trouble in strikingdown the plan. Similarly, when the Forest Service soughtto rebuild a dozen dams in the Emigrant Wilderness becausethe dams—in the agency’s view—provide recreational, scenic,scientific, educational and historical values the court easilyturned down the plan. When the NPS began shuttling touristsin passenger vans through the Cumberland Island Wildernessto promote recreational and historical uses, a unanimous panelof judges had no trouble turning aside such a twisted readingof the law.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007If the public purposes referenced in the Act were, indeed,the purpose of the Act, then it would be fine to undertake whateveractions might enhance those uses. For example, a managercould build overnight lodges for recreationists unwilling or unableto sleep in a tent or on the ground, run trams up to scenicoverlooks to assist those who don’t have time for other modesof travel, build dams to improve fishing, or construct telescopeobservatories on wilderness peaks to take advantage of darknight skies for research purposes. Clearly this is not what theAct intended.Thus as wilderness stewards or citizen activists we haveto take a hard look at any proposal that diminishes wildernesscharacter through the use of motorized equipment, mechanicaltransport or any structures or installations. Keeping in themind the singular purpose of the Act ensures that such plansare reviewed in the proper context: Is this project appropriatelybased on the minimum required to preserve the area’s wildernesscharacter, or is the reason for the project inappropriately tied topromoting or enhancing a particular use? Basing decisions onthe proper test will help to ensure that an enduring Wildernessis passed along undiminished to future generations.This is the third installment of a series examining key conceptsand principles of wilderness stewardship.9


Losing Perspective at Denali - Is the National Park Servicealtering the meaning of Wilderness?— By Roger KayeInt he August issue of Denali Citizens Council News,Sue Deyoe provides insight into the growing issueof technology and mechanization in Denali. “What belongs innational park wilderness, and what doesn’t,” she asks. “Hasthe meaning of wilderness changed?”Apparently it has for the National Park Service, if theconclusions of two recent studies they cosponsored are anyindication. “Diverse Recreation Experiences at Denali NationalPark and Preserve” and “Wilderness at Arms Length: On theOutside Looking in at Denali National Park and Preserve”report the findings and interpretations of a 2004-05 study onthe experience of flightseers, euphemistically identified as“day users.”The focus of the study was a set of interviews with 10air service providers and 44 flightseers, many of whom wereamong the 9,800 who, for an additional fee, landed on one ofthe park’s glaciers in 2003. The significantly different nature ofthe experience of flightseers and “visitors actively engaged inthe mountain environment” was duly noted, though the effectof the former upon the latter was hardly described. Receivingno mention were those, such as our family, who have beendisplaced. We used to camp at the Ruth Amphitheater, but thecongestion of planes landing and taking off, and their constantdrone overhead drove us away.Not surprisingly, the reports’many interview quotes show thatsuch “day users” have an enjoyable,exciting experience. But arethey having a park experience?Also not surprising was one of theconclusions: “. . . the air serviceproviders tended to believe that[day use] visitors seldom think ofthe place as a national park.” Littlewonder. The pervasive presenceof machines and their noise is notsomething people associate witha national park. But perhaps forDenali the meaning of a park andwilderness are changing, or beingchanged.Implicit in the reports’ focus on “making decisions abouthow best to protect and sustain these contrasting experiences”is the assumption that accommodating air tourists is as importantas providing for those who come seeking, and respecting,traditional park values.The pervasive presence ofmachines and their noise is notsomething people associate witha national park. But perhaps forDenali the meaning of a park andwilderness are changing, or beingchanged.Olaus Murie, Howard Zahniser, and Adolph Murie atop Cathedral Mountain inMcKinley Park, 1961. These wilderness movement leaders saw national parks as placesof restraint, respect, and reverence.But what bothered me most are the conclusions associatingflightseeing with “wilderness recreation experiences,” andthe assertion that air tourists experience “humility.”Appropriating these terms to accommodate/promote useof the machines, not as a means ofaccess, but as a means of convenientlyand loudly “experiencing”wilderness subverts the concept.It especially profanes the meaningof humility, derived from the Latinhumas, meaning of the Earth.Consider what Wilderness Actauthor Howard Zahniser stated inhis canonical essay, “The Need forWilderness Areas.” “This need isfor areas of the earth within whichwe stand without our mechanismsthat make us immediate mastersover our environment.”“We need the humility to knowourselves as the dependent members of a great community oflife,” he went on to say:Without the gadgets, the inventions, the contrivanceswhereby men have seemed to establish themselves an independenceof nature, without these distractions, to know10Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognizeone’s littleness, to sense dependence and interdependence,indebtedness and responsibility.I’d argue that the NPS has the responsibility to respectthe historic, venerable meanings of wilderness and humilityand to fairly consider what’s lost when they are contorted toaccommodate those who sell and purchase packaged flightseeingexcursions. The agency must recognize that the issue isn’tsimply about visitors using Denali in conflicting ways, butrather as Joseph Sax has written, its about the meaning a parkcomes to have when treated as a commodity to entertain vacationers.Those with more money than time or interest in trulyexperiencing the park. Such commercial tourism, he writesin Mountains Without Handrails, “is depriving the parks oftheir central symbolism, their message about the relationshipbetween man and nature, and man in industrial society.”Sue concludes her article by calling for more discussion onthe unintended consequences of new technologies in the park.We need to consider the subtle but far-reaching consequencesof using wilderness and humility to promote commercial activitiesthat are at variance with their time-honored meanings.Editor’s note: Roger Kaye came to Alaska in 1974 to work atCamp Denali. This article originally appeared in the Denali CitizensCouncil News.Couch Scouts & Internet Hunting?The US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a press releasein February announcing plans to install a satellite dishand video cameras at a remote watering hole within the KofaWilderness. The cameras would relay real-time streamingvideo over the Internet so people could enjoy watching wildlifecoming to the tank to drink.Located in southwestern Arizona, Kofa is the second largestrefuge Wilderness in the continental U.S.Despite its good intentions, there were four distinct problemswith the plan. The first was the intrusion from unnecessarytechnology and installations inside Wilderness, and usingmotor vehicles and helicopters to service and maintain theequipment.Second, advertising the high level of wildlife activityat the well, particularly the presence of trophy-size bighornsheep and mule deer, would concentrate hunting pressure inthat one area on the refuge, with hunters using the internet to“couch scout” during the months leading up to the hunt. Thestreaming video would enable poachers working in teams tomonitor the web-cam and notify shooters via radio when acougar or full-curl bighorn ram came to the waterhole.Third, the Wilderness Act intended that Wilderness be anauthentic experience, not a virtual reality show for armchairviewers. Wilderness is a place for exploration, adventure, andthe uncertain. Even if many people will never visit the KofaWilderness to observe its wildlife, the sense of mystery andexploration should remain real and intact.Fourth, the FWS press release mentioned the agency’sinterest in installing other hidden cameras in Wilderness tomonitor visitors, perhaps hoping to catch lawbreakers. Beingsecretly videotaped during a Wilderness trip is deeply chilling,and it negates the very idea of wilderness as a sanctuaryset apart from the technologies and heavy-handed control ofmodern civilization.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, AZ.Wilderness Watch immediately went to work urgingpeople to contact the refuge and express concerns. Within aweek a number of wilderness advocates and hunters had contactedthe FWS and on March 1st refuge manager Paul Cornesdid the right thing for Wilderness, withdrawing his decision toinstall a video system in the Kofa Wilderness. You can e-maila thank you to Paul_Cornes@fws.gov.11


National Park Wilderness NeglectCitizen oversight is key for protecting wilderness character— By Howie WolkeWhen it comes to national parks, in many ways theU.S. government has failed its citizens. Exceptin Alaska, few national park backcountry areas have beendesignated wilderness. In my bioregion, our three great parksare Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton – and there is not asingle acre of designated wilderness in any of these gems. Inmy opinion, that’s shameful.When the Wilderness Act was enacted in 1964, it orderedthe Park Service to study and report within ten years on thewilderness suitability of its backcountry domain. As a result,many national park backcountry areas have been recommendedfor wilderness designation since the early 1970’s (except inAlaska, just a few have been designated). To its credit, manyPark Service wilderness recommendations were excellent, andthey still officially stand. For example, nearly all of Yellowstoneand Glacier’s expansive backcountry are recommendedfor wilderness designation.Unfortunately, National Park Service wilderness stewardshipis as shameful as Congress’s failure to designate nationalpark wilderness. Because it is official policy to manage recommendedwilderness as wilderness, the Park Service must, bylaw or policy, manage both designated and proposed wildernessto protect wilderness character, without degradation.Unfortunately, though, degradation is rampant and wildernesscharacter is being compromised throughout the national parksystem’s wildlands.For example, in Olympic National Park – which providesperhaps our most glaring example of bad stewardship – thePark Service proposes to carve a pasture out of wild rainforestin order to re-create a 19th century homestead. This is withindesignated wilderness! Also in Olympic, some wildernesstrails are absurdly over-built monuments to human engineering,mocking the idea that in wilderness, “the imprint of man’swork [is] substantially unnoticeable”. That rainy park hasalso seen a Park Service attempt to construct and place newwood camping shelters in the wilderness, though a WildernessWatch lawsuit recently repelled that shenanigan.Off road vehicles shatter the silence of CanyonlandsNational Park’s backcountry. In Grand Teton National Park,local conservationists fight a plan for paved bicycle paths thatwould fragment parts of the backcountry. And throughout thenational park system, ranger cabins, trail crews with chainsaws,low over-flights, helicopter landings, snow-machinesand other insults to the wilderness idea all contribute to watered-downwilderness.12Trailside shelters in an NPS utility yard awaiting airlifting into theOlympic Wilderness.Many park managers just don’t get it. In Yellowstone,horse packers can sometimes take up to 25 (!!) head of livestockper pack string. That’s 100 heavy hooves in a singlegroup digging into the earth and its vegetation. That’s way toomany. (For comparison, my backpacking company, Big WildAdventures, voluntarily limits its groups to 10 hikers, includingguides.) Also, Yellowstone trail crews routinely clear trailswith chainsaws, shattering the wild sounds of silence whilecreating bee-line type trails that ram-rod through the topography,often with ugly cuts and fills that fill with exotic weeds,rather than gently laying the trail upon the existing contourswith as little disturbance as possible. (In fairness to parkadministrators, at a recent meeting with the Yellowstone Superintendentand Chief Ranger, I was assured that trail crewswere now being trained to use non-motorized primitive toolsin the backcountry, and that chainsaw use was on the wane.Time will tell if this is indeed the case.)Still, there are many other affronts to wilderness in Yellowstone.Snow-machines create noise and air pollution thatdegrade the backcountry. A power line slices through proposedwilderness in northwest Yellowstone’s Gallatin Range,fragmenting habitat and opening the door to motorizedmaintenance. There is no plan to recognize the area’s wildernessvalues by moving the power corridor to the front country.Motorboats, albeit with speed and power restrictions, are stillallowed on portions of the remote and beautiful South andSoutheast Arms of Yellowstone Lake, clear icy waters tuckedinto the verdant folds of remote proposed wilderness. And reconstructionof existing park roads is creating wider rights ofway than before. So vehicles move faster, thus increasing bothnoise pollution and road-kill of precious park wildlife. Thisalso de-wilds adjacent proposed wilderness.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


The situation in Yellowstone is neither unique nor unusuallyegregious; it’s simply that I’m more familiar with Yellowstonethan with other national parks because I live seven milesfrom its northwest boundary, and because I guide so manybackcountry trips in this magical wildland.In other words, there is a national park system-wide failureto understand both the spirit and the letter of our nation’sforemost conservation law, the Wilderness Act. Though thisfailure is by no means unique to the National Park Service, thisagency has enjoyed relative immunity from public scrutiny,at least compared with the Forest Service and the BLM. That’spartly the result of activist conservation groups that mistakenlybelieve the national parks to be adequately protected.In summary, National Park Service stewardship of wildernessand proposed wilderness lands must improve dramatically.That will take time and determination, because agencycultures are notoriously resistant to change. The Park Serviceneeds to develop a much better understanding of the WildernessAct and its mandates, not to mention the wildernessidea. This change won’t happen spontaneously. It will occuronly when citizen conservation groups realize that even ourdesignated and proposed wildernesses need constant citizenoversight, and when they stop pretending that only the ForestAn ever-widening trail in Yellowstone National Park backcountry.Service and the BLM need to fear the wrath of knowledgeableand determined conservationists in order to be pressured intoobeying the law and taking proper care of the land. SWilderness, Congress & the CourtsBackcountry Landing Strip Access ActEmigrant Wilderness, CABackcountry Landing Strips - Congressman Denny Rehberg(R-MT) introduced the Backcountry Landing Strip AccessAct (H.R. 461) in January. The bill would prohibit the federalgovernment from closing or rendering inoperable primitiveaircraft landing strips on federal lands, including within Wilderness.Ever since President Clinton proclaimed the MissouriBreaks as a national monument in 2001, the Montana BackcountryPilots Association has been trying to assure that theBLM allows nine existing primitive air strips in the monumentto remain open for public use. The legislation also specificallyreferences an existing airstrip in the Great Bear Wildernesswhich currently remains open.The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness inIdaho is currently the only Wilderness where pre-existingairstrips must remain open by law. Since wilderness designationin 1980, use of wilderness airstrips by private pilots hasskyrocketed, with approximately 5,500 landings annually inthe central Idaho Wilderness. Wilderness Watch is closelywatching this new legislation that would undermine Wilderness.Wilderness Watcher, April 2007The December 2006 issue of Wilderness Watcher reportedthat the Forest Service had filed a notice to appeal to the NinthCircuit Court of Appeals the court ruling won by WildernessWatch in June 2006 that forbids the Forest Service from repairing,maintaining, and operating 11 old dams within the EmigrantWilderness (see Oct. 2006 Wilderness Watcher for more onthe ruling). However, the agency recently dropped its appeal.Steve Brougher, Wilderness Watch’s Central Sierra Chapterrepresentative, told the Sonora, California Union Democrat, “Ithink the Forest Service understood they were going to losethe case and that’s why they decided not to appeal.” From1985 to 1997 Brougher managed the Emigrant Wilderness as aForest Service wilderness specialist on the Stanislaus NationalForest, so is well acquainted with the history and politics ofthese old check dams. Our able attorney in the case was PeteFrost with the Western Environmental Law Center.13


Welcome Back Roberta Cross Guns!After a hiatus of 12 years, Roberta Cross Guns hasreturned to Wilderness Watch’s board of directors.Back at the beginning, in 1989, she was one of the organization’sfounders, along with U.S. Forest Service veterans BillWorf and Jim Dayton. She saw Wilderness Watch through thedifficult gestational years and then took time out to raise twodaughters and put her new law degree to work for the State ofMontana in Helena.Why is she back?As an asthmatic child born in Utah and raised in theshadow of Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, she had to spendtime in the claustrophobia of oxygen tents and hospitals. She“craved for the outdoors,” she said. When she did get out,as in a family camping trip rudely interrupted by an Augustsnowstorm, she found the “wonder of it inspiring and emotionallythrilling.” After high school, she pursued her interestsby working for an outfitter on the edge of the Cloud PeakWilderness and later as a camp cook in the Beartooths. “I wasin wilderness (big and little ‘W’) for 10 days at a time beginningaround September 15 through December 1,” She said. “Imiss it so.”She remembers cooking inside the camp tent in 20-belowand opening the tent flap, which instantly took her breathaway. She remembers a pair of Pennsylvania hunters whocame back mid-morning empty-handed with huge smiles.They had seen a bull elk rise up in a meadow in first light andcouldn’t pull the trigger. “They loved being in Wilderness somuch they couldn’t shoot a part of it,” she said. “People feelRoberta Cross Guns and her father in Deer Lodge, Montana.hungry for open space, and the true value of Wilderness isright there, in that response to wild nature.”She thinks Wilderness Watch can do more to educateits members and others about why Wilderness is importantand why it’s a uniquely American experience. She doesn’tminimize the difficulty therein. “We have to educate peopleto make changes outside the Wilderness in order to protectwhat’s inside the Wilderness.”Now the kids are grown, she said, one teaching school inHawaii and the other working as an au pair for a Helena family.It’s time to get back in the Wilderness Watch saddle.A Wild Endowment from Bill Worf— By Jeff Smith, Membership & Development DirectorAfter a few days in the wilderness, it sinks in that you’revisiting a place with its own pace and rhythm, a place removedfrom the rush to development and change, a remnantof the American frontier, a place that’s always been andalways will be.A journey into wilderness can skew a person’s sense oftime. It’s not a question of a division of time, of minutes orhours or phone calls to be returned at the end of the day. It’sa question of eons, of being immersed in a geology whollyshaped by natural forces, against which you can measure yourown time on earth. There’s something humbling, a sense thatwe don’t, in fact, have dominion over each leaf and critter. Welive connected to all living things. (continued next page)14Wilderness Watcher, April 2007


Wilderness is an endowment for all Americans.Long-time Wilderness Watch supporter and boardmember, Bill Worf recently reminded us of another importantendowment, our own. “I wanted to raise the stature of WildernessWatch’s endowment and get people looking at it as aplace worthy of their charitable giving,” he said.“I wanted to raise the stature ofWilderness Watch’s endowmentand get people looking at it as aplace worthy of their charitablegiving.”time, a contribution that will sustain this organization andwilderness protection for years and years.Wilderness Watch’s endowment is a fund we’ve investedto generate a steady income. The organization must leave theprincipal intact, and we use the interest and dividends to pursuethe organization’s mission. An endowment is built for thelong-term, and, like the wilderness itself, it’s a way to measurean organization’s strength and character.The endowment will grow with your gifts to create a fundof stability for Wilderness Watch. A gift to the endowment is agift to Wilderness Watch and to Wilderness forever.If you’d like more information about our endowment,give Jeff Smith a call, 406 542-2048, extension 1.With help from his investment advisor, Bill realized thathe could reap significant tax benefits by donating appreciatedstocks. At the same time, his stocks boosted our endowmentby $28,866.“People who care about wilderness can leave somethingfor the long-term,” he said. He’s thinking about wildernessLOVE THE WILDERNESS? Help Us Keep It Wild!Yes! I would like to make a contribution and help defend Wilderness!Here is an extra donation to help protect Wilderness!$30 $50 $100 $250 $I would like to become a member!$15 $30 $50 $500 $Name:Address:City:LivingLightlyRegularContributorLifetimeOtherState/Zip:My check or money order is enclosed.Phone:Please charge my: Visa MasterCardE-mail:Card #Exp. Date /Please send information about the Wilderness Legacy Donor Program.(to receive our monthly e-mail update)Please make checks payable to: “Wilderness Watch”Mail to:P.O. Box 9175,Missoula, MT 59807Wilderness Watcher, April 200715


dHappy Holidays!Spring in the Death Valley Wilderness, CA.NON-PROFITOrganizationU.S. PostagePAIDMissoula, MTPermit No. 569WILDERNESS WATCH• KEEPING WILDERNESS WILD •Wilderness WatchP.O. Box 9175Missoula, MT 59807p: (406) 542-2048f: (406) 542-7714www.wildernesswatch.orgCHANGE SERVICE REQUESTEDPrinted on 100% recycled,unbleached paper

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