Some of you may remember that a few years ago the superintendent of Glacier National Park, Chas Cartwright, was very proactive in pushing for Wilderness designation. This is a snip from an article in the fall of 2009:
Cartwright said wilderness inside Glacier, and all national parks, is not a new idea. He said park managers were asked decades ago to identify possible wilderness areas within Glacier’s boundaries. “That went to President Nixon 35 years ago,” he said. Nixon recommended to the Congress to affirm those designations, but Congress has not acted on that recommendation in almost two generations. “Thirty-five years is a long time to wait,” he said. His comments were the second time in two days that Cartwright has publicly pushed for park wilderness.
Shortly after these statements supporting Wilderness designation for portions of Glacier National Park, all of a sudden, the effort just seemed to evaporate and Superintendent Cartwright stopped talking about the idea. Well, a forest scientist that I work very closely with might have found the reason why.
When this forest scientist talked with some Glacier National Park staff last year, this topic came up and their understanding was that Senator Tester had directly approached Superintendent Cartwright and “asked” him to stop pursuing the Wilderness idea because Senator Tester felt it would complicate his efforts to push the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act through Congress.
Is this perhaps yet another example of where politics – especially election-year politics – get in the way of good public lands policy? I mean, who could seriously be against Wilderness designation for the wildest, most spectacular parts of Glacier National Park?