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Itís getting crowded here.
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“In late August we were headed for a easy overnighter in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (the Frank). When we got to the turn off from the highway the Forest Service had the road closed because of a fire. So on to plan B. But we had no plan B. So we headed to Bear Valley Hot Springs. An easy hike at a lower elevation than where we had planed to go but still in the Frank. It was the middle of the week and we expected to have the place to ourselves. A we did for about 2 hours. Three different groups showed up. It is a public land, so I have no complaint except that I left all my clothes over by our camp and gave a gratis show to the clothed visitors. Most people know that nudity at these hot springs is normal so I fill no guilt. OK, day visitors, they will leave in a few hours. And they did. But before they did three more gals show up ready to camp like us. Like I said this public property so fine. But it used to be that in the middle of the week this place was deserted. Not only that but these gals objected to natural bathing suits. We did get some natural time in the water at dawn before they awoke. It was to hot to really enjoy the hot water anyway. We spent more time in Bear Creek than the hot pools. We will save this location for a September trip in the future. We also later found more people than expected on the trail to and around Ten Lake Basin in the Sawtooth Wilderness. That was also the middle of the week and near 20 miles from the trailhead.
So is anybody else perceiving increased wilderness traffic? Maybe we just picked the wrong days.”
“The West is growing faster than any part of the country so it's not just a perception of feeling more crowded. I think I read where Boise is one of the fastest groing cities as well. There is a lot of pressure on Public Lands for recreation, mining, logging, etc. The ATV and snowmobile folks are itching to get their hands on more roadless areas as well- so bring your earplugs! Remember that when you elect your representatives!”
“You are correct, many places are getting more crowded. So I just go to my physical fitness center where, with nudity pwemitted, I can use the large, men's, hot Jacuzzi, the steam room and the sauna. The swimming pool rules do require that I wear a swimming suit there.
Not only that but these gals objected to natural bathing suits.How did you respond to their objection?”
“I meant this to be about crowds not nudity. It was a wilderness hot spring though. We are polite and put on clothes if anyone objects. It is part of the issue only because the increase in people does, in this case, alter the planned activities.
The developed campgrounds and place near the road have definitely grown more crowded in the last few years but I had not noticed in it the wilderness before. Wolf, these are Fed. Protected wilderness and there will never be ATVs on the these trails. There is a lot of Idaho mountain that is open to them but not in the wilderness areas.”
“I understand that GSMNP had an 18% drop in the number of visitors last year. Based upon my observations during many months backpacking there this year, there may be another large drop this year. Possible factors are fears about the economy and highter gasoline prices.”
“I believe that drop in GSMNP was primarily due to road construction.”
“well if mtn gal came to the GSMNP then I bet attendance would rise....”
“Around here the deeper you hike into the wilderness the more likely you are to leave the crowds behind. They don't like to venture to far in especially if the terrain is difficult.”
Not so fast Mtn gal...
“Protected wilderness and there will never be ATVs on the these trails. There is a lot of Idaho mountain that is open to them but not in the wilderness areas."
The Salt Lake Tribune
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan compromise to stop Utah counties from expanding roads across national monuments, proposed wilderness areas and other sensitive public lands may be stripped this week from a final Interior Department spending bill.
Alarmed at the prospect, 104 House members have sent a letter to House and Senate members of the Interior Appropriations conference committee. They are urging committee members to leave intact the House-passed amendment that would restrict the Bureau of Land Management from processing "disclaimers of interest" to turn over certain roads across public lands in Utah to counties. Eliminating that provision could allow the counties to develop roads across national monuments, wildlife refuges, potential wilderness areas and national parks, signers of the letter claim.
"The disclaimer rule could have widespread negative consequences," Reps. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich., wrote in a letter also signed Friday by 102 other House members. "[The amendment] would not protect all lands that could be affected but it would protect some of the most sensitive parts of America's public lands."
In July, the House passed a measure pushed by Utah's two GOP House members that limited an amendment by Udall that would have prohibited use of federal funds to process Utah's road claims made under the 1866 frontier law known as Revised Statute 2477.
Udall had hoped to neuter an agreement reached in April between Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Interior Secretary Gale Norton that essentially allowed the federal government to deed ownership of disputed backcountry roads across public lands to Utah for maintenance and improvement.
A "perfecting" amendment to the Udall amendment by Utah Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon and Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., cleared the House 226-194 after sponsors offered a compromise by prohibiting BLM from processing disclaimers on roads crossing national parks, national monuments, wilderness study areas, wildlife refuges or federal wilderness areas.
Now, Republican-led conferees meeting Monday behind closed doors were considering whether to strip the Taylor-Cannon-Bishop amendment from the final version of the spending bill since there is no similar provision in the Senate-passed version of the Interior appropriation, according to House Democratic staff members.
"There is a lot of concern for how this will affect our public and private lands throughout the country," said Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for Udall.
Environmental groups, which had generally applauded the compromise amendment, warned of a public backlash.
"To completely have this language ripped out of the bill would be an utter disappointment to the public's expectation of how these special lands should be protected," said Kristen Brengel, a lobbyist for The Wilderness Society.
Bishop and Cannon did not sign the letter to Interior conferees requesting their amendment remain in place, nor did Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who had voted against the Taylor-Cannon-Bishop amendment after his own compromise amendment failed on a technicality.
Through spokesmen, Bishop and Cannon said Monday they were unsure what would become of the amendment until the final report is issued, but remained supportive of the compromise language.
In an interview, Matheson said he was unaware of the Udall letter but was still against the amendment since it failed to address potential threats to private property by the disclaimers.”
“Wolf: I am referring to federally protected wilderness. Land that already has that status, not proposed wilderness or state protected land. There are roadless areas in Idaho that are coveted by people that seem unable to travel without a motor strapped to their butt. The land I am talking about has been through that fight already and though nothing is for curtain (not even taxes) violin becoming a republican in more likely the ATVs in the Frank or the Sawtooth. The trails that are open to motor bikes are predominantly long, often dry and seldom used by hikers. Horsemen do use them but few hikers. They are also maintained by the motor butts that use them. I am willing to let them have those trails. Maybe even some of new ones here and there. There are some areas that we need to fight for to keep motorless and I will. However I am more concerned about forest management practices (as in fire), mining and what some commercial guides do to the mountains. The commercial guides do their havoc in the protected wilderness areas. Their almost permanent camps and the destruction the horses do is a real threat to the experience one expects in a wilderness.”
“That's interesting. Just recently I've seen that the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and US F&WS are starting to educate the wilderness guides to LNT camping practices. The camps were getting too well-established and are destrying sopme areas. They're getting them to disperse the fire rings and working on grazing practices, etc.”
“I honestly believe that if it were not the historic use of horses in the mountains they would not be permitted in the wilderness. They are more destructive that a mountain bike which are not permitted. The most obvious and common thing I see is what they do when they come to a downed tree across the trail. They just go around the end of the tree. The result is a new trail, erosion and definitely not LNT. Five horses is all it takes. I think that if they are to use the trails, they need to remove the deadfall or turn back. Going around it should be punishable by shoeing the rider (ya know with horseshoes and nails). Horse packers tend to camp in the same spots leaving piles of manure and spilled feed. Horse packing can and should be done responsibly.”
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