Letters from the West

Outdoor Idaho presents 50 Years of Wilderness Sunday

Idaho Public Television’s Outdoor Idaho will end the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act at 7 p.m. Sunday with an hour-long special that appears to be spectacular.

The IPTV team went to every wilderness area in the state to examine the places, the issues, the controversies and the wonder that Idaho has in these special places. Many call us the wilderness state with reasons this television presentation makes obvious.

I play a small role in the program as I joined Bruce Reichert and his team in a hike into the Gospel Hump Wilderness south of Grangeville in August. I sat around the campfire and talked about the law’s history and its future with a wonderful group.

Earlier in the year I joined Aaron Kunz and Pat Metzler as we explored the debate about the Boulder-White Clouds proposals for a national monument or wilderness protection.

I’m looking forward to hearing and watching Peter Morrill’s hike across the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, including a visit to Ship Island Lake in the Bighorn Crags. These folks know how to tell Idaho’s stories and I expect to see some of the awesome places I’ve visited and places I hope to see before I die.

Wilderness has been a big part of the Idaho discussion this year, starting with the debate about killing wolves in the Middle Fork Country in January, the Boulder-White Clouds, the Bureau of Land Management’s rewriting the rules for the Owyhee wilderness, the Forest Service’s commercial filming rules for wilderness and collaborative talks about new wilderness for the Clearwater and Nez Perce national forests.