Wilderness and Roadless, the King’s Forests

Robin Stanley has published a commentary on wilderness and roadless area designations over on the Not Without a Fight! blog, FYI.  Ron Roizen

New Forest old map

William the Conquer kicked the peasants off his land so he could have a private hunting reserve for himself and his guests.  Unlike William the Conquer, our government has only kicked the handicapped, the poor, the children and the elderly off of the government land and instead has reserved it for the wealthy and the healthy.

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15 thoughts on “Wilderness and Roadless, the King’s Forests”

  1. Wow.

    OK, ‘ll bite. So, let’s pretend for a moment that “our government has kicked the handicapped, the poor, the children and the elderly off of the government land.”

    What’s your solution?

    By the way, here’s what a super man had to say about Wilderness. I believe this was one of the very last projects Christopher Reeve worked on before he passed away.

    I still tear up at the very end of this film when Reeve – a quadriplegic and struggling to even speak – says “Well, it’s been a while since I was in a Wilderness. Might take a bit longer before I do get to go back to one. But even if that never happens, I was always value the Wilderness as much as I ever have.”

  2. Wow!! Fortunately, Mr. Reeves had the resources to allow him the opportunity to visit the wilderness area. He was one of the “elite” few that have had that opportunity. So where do you get “pretend our government has kicked the poor, the elderly, the handicapped and the children off the land.” Call it what you want, but the regulations are such that the handicapped, elderly (generally speaking) and poor or those that can not afford livestock are precluded from experiencing those areas. If you are not healthy enough to walk and cannot afford livestock for transportation, you do not get to access the wilderness, wildness management areas, or roadless areas. What am I missing? Isn’t it a little funny that the American Disability Act requires accommodations for the handicapped, but when it comes to our Wilderness Areas, and Wilderness Management Areas, and Roadless areas,it is acceptable to set up restrictions that preclude a good portion of our society from being able to access and enjoy “their” national forests. As I have said before, I am not opposed to “some” wilderness areas. What I am opposed to is the unbridled growth through the use of Wilderness Management Area and Roadless areas. The makes those areas exclusive to the rich and healthy. It makes it The Kings Land and not all the people’s land. If you get caught accessing with a motorized vehicle, motorized wheel chair, etc. you don’t get shot with arrows or hung, but you do get a fine. I have a GREAT solution. But rest assured, the anti-road/access people aren’t going to like it, because then it is no longer their exclusive area restricted to the elite healthy and wealthy club.

    • Hi Robin. It’s becoming increasing clear that having debates with you in this forum is pointless.

      Once again, I’ll ask what’s your supposed solution to the notion that “our government has kicked the handicapped, the poor, the children and the elderly off of the government land?” You said you have a “GREAT” solution, so let’s hear it.

      Also, Robin, can you please explain how hiking or camping for free on America’s public lands or Wilderness areas kicks the poor off? When I was younger, just out of college, and didn’t have much money I specifically sought out National Forests and Wilderness areas because they were places where I could hike and camp for free. At the same time, I specifically avoided National Parks because I couldn’t afford the entry fee.

      And, for the record, here’s what Wilderness.net (a website formed in 1996 through a collaborative partnership between the College of Forestry and Conservation’s Wilderness Institute at The University of Montana, the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute) says about the ADA and the Wilderness Act:

      Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990)
      The purpose of this act is to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities in areas of employment, transportation, communication, from the discriminatory aspects of architecture, over protective rules and policies, failure to make modifications to existing facilities and practices, and relegation to lesser services, programs, activities, benefits, jobs, or other opportunities. This Act amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires federal agencies to make facilities and programs accessible. ADA extends the mandate to all state and local governments and any facility or program receiving government funding. The Rehabilitation Act, ADA and the Wilderness Act appear to conflict dramatically if read literally without applying some common sense. The latter proposes to protect natural and undeveloped landscape values for future generations. ADA seeks to eliminate all discrimination to programs and facilities by tailoring facilities and programs to be universally accessible. The key point is that equal access will be provided and facilities will be ‘universally accessible’ by not discriminating against people with disabilities. Wheelchairs (as defined by the law) are allowed in wilderness and the Forest Service does not install barriers to their use when constructing or reconstructing trails or bridges in wilderness. However, wilderness trail standards (management objectives) are applied and not the trail standards established for accessible non-wilderness trails. This approach allows equal access to all but does not alter the character of the wilderness.

  3. Yeah, I’ll bite too….
    1) Is there some Constitutional right driving a vehicle on Federal lands that I’m not aware of?
    2) Were the handicapped and elderly running around the forests a lot back in medieval times?
    3) Does creating a place that vehicles aren’t allowed on our national forests really deny access to children, the poor, or the elderly? Like Matthew above, it pains me that the handicapped are denied access to certain portions of our natural world. But are you really willing to stand by the statement that gating off some roads denies kids, the poor, and the elderly the opportunity to park their car and hike? Really? Seriously?
    And finally, it seems to smack of hypocrisy for the “States Rights” contingent to be caterwauling about disenfranchisement. No?
    While I’m sure your fringe theories receive positive reception at your “Enough is enough” echo-chamber, I’m willing to bet you’ll find the thinking here a bit more critical.

  4. Well, this Robin (Hood? … who is so concerned about the poor and handicapped and elderly) has no great solution that he will openly reveal. Except, of course, to road any and all acres of the national forests and national parks and roadless areas.
    He is so clearly naive and unaware of the real world. He has no idea of the costs (in the billions) to even start roading these millions of acres, some of the most rugged, steep, rocky and fragile portions of the remaining unroaded wildlands.
    Robin, why do you think so much of these areas are unroaded? The USFS cannot begin to maintain the thousands of miles of roads our there now! For decades they have always been able to build more roads (by trading roads for logs), but have never been allocated the funds to grade, repair, or manage these roads to any decent standard.
    The other over-riding factor that Robin clearly does not recognize is that roads are the number one culprit when it comes to maintaining water quality flowing from the uplands. People and fish and wildlife depend on clean water. I shutter to consider the result of his “great proposal”.
    I would appreciate some background on Robin, who he is, his background and experience in wildland management, etc.

  5. Yo, Robin, averages are a super way of measuring the “wealth” barrier of wilderness areas. It only takes 1 millionaire to balance out my 100 dirt bag friends and me. What’s the median income? Then we’ll talk about “King’s Forests.”

  6. This subject has some resonance for me. Towards the end of his life, when his health no longer permitted him to walk much, my dad lamented that several places he cherished had been declared off-limits to vehicles and could only be accessed by young and able-bodied people. It was frustrating — but there were other places to go, beautiful and marvelous places, and so we did. In the end, it wasn’t that big a deal.

    Moreover, I like to think that although dad didn’t know much about the ecological effects of roads, he would have changed his mind if he did. In a nutshell, roads bring death and diminishment. Which isn’t to say there shouldn’t be any — that’s neither practical nor desirable — but why begrudge leaving a last few places alone? Some 83 percent of the United States is within a half-mile of a road. “How much is enough,” asks Robin. I say that’s enough.

    Also, looking at the sponsors of NWAF!, it looks like people who feel that logging restrictions on national forests are too tight and can be blamed for their region’s economic hardships. But from what I’ve seen, cheap foreign wood from places with little consideration for either nature or people is to blame, and cheapening ourselves to compete doesn’t work.

  7. I stand by my comments. The roadless areas and wilderness areas are the playgrounds for the healthy and wealthy. And I do not recall mentioning anywhere in my piece that we should build a million miles of roads into the wilderness areas, although roads have worked very well in our national park system. My concern is that the intent of the wilderness plan has been abused. Congress is reserved the right to establish wilderness areas. Yet the FS. can now create wilderness management areas at their will and pleasure thereby circumventing Congress. After all, it is not a wilderness area. It is just a wilderness management area. And much of the same holds true for roadless areas.
    And anyone who has really taken time to look at the road issue should know that not all roads are bad. In fact many roads are very well built and are fish compatabile. So if a road is built to appropriate standards what’s the problem? Oh, I get it, it allows those that are not healthy and wealthy into the “gold old boys” sanctuary.
    I spent 14 years on a F.S.Resource Advisory Committee approving bridges, fish habitat, decommissioning roads, improving fisheries, stabilizing river and creek banks and just about any other project the F.S.can do to address the clean water issue. I have read 14 years of F.S. reports on TMDL’s and water temperature etc., etc., etc. The thing that amazes me the most is the entire CDA River will run brown with mud 24 hours a day, for three weeks creating more TMDL in an hour than all the roads can do in 50 yearts. Yet the roads are the culprit. Some roads need to be decommissioned. Some roads need new culverts. Some old roads need to rebuilt and moved to better locations but cannot be because then they are considered a new road and no new roads can be built because of the No New Road mentality. Road also provide access and regress for fire. But we don’t call them roads, we call them fire lines. So the King’s men will continue to take care of the Kings land and continue to make it an exclusive club for the healthy and wealthy.

    • Hi Robin,

      You do realize that there are likely many, many, many more miles of roads on our U.S. National Forests (some 380,000 to 440,000 miles) than our U.S. National Parks. Yet, for some strange reason you think “roads have worked very well in our national park system?” You also realize that our National Park system comprises 40% of the total Wilderness acres in the entire U.S., right?

    • I know the CDA River situation well, having worked as a staff person on the Idaho Panhandle NF for several years before retirement. The CDA watershed was once touted as the most roaded watershed in the United States. Hence the continued problem with silt and sediment from these roads, and various mining operations of the past. If you want to push for more roads in our forests, the CDA river basin is not a good example to tour.
      I have a grown son who has been in a wheelchair for the past 40 years. He was an avid outdoorsman for all of his younger years, and there is no-one in his condition who values the roadless wilderness more than he does. Where Robin gets his info as to the “wealth” of wilderness users needs exploration. Yes, young and active people do predominate in these roadless areas, but there is no indication in my experience that most of these users are wealthy.
      We could go into the other values of Wilderness other than recreation, but obviously Robin doesn’t recognize the importance of anything but what he can drive by and see through his glass windows.
      At my age and physical condition I accept the fact that I won’t be hiking into the Salmo/Upper Priest Wilderness again, or the Bob or the Scapeboat. But just knowing these special places will remain roadless and wild gives me great comfort and pleasure. And maybe someday my great-grandchildren will have the opportunity I once did…to view with awe some tiny portion of our globe the way it was created, undisturbed by the hand of man.

  8. I’m a little “cornfused” at what you are saying. Yes I believe the road system has worked extremely well in our national park system, although I must admit, the only national parks I have visited are In Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And while there are many restrictions to motorized vehicular use, I believe the system of access in our National Park system has worked very well. Yellowstone and Glacier parks are huge with much to see with roads and trail. I give them a “two thumbs up” for making access to these marvels available to all classes of Americans regardless of health or wealth. They even offer some handicapped access trails. And while some may argue the prices of admission at the National Parks is too high, I believe they are reasonable allowing most Americans to be able to afford them. By comparison, it is much much cheaper for a family of five to spend three nights and travel 150 miles though a National Park system than for a family of five to travel 150 miles into a wilderness area and spend three nights. I guess its fair to say “I like good roads”. Good roads provide opportunities for the handicapped, the aged, families and less fortunate to access the huckleberries, the wildlife, the scenery, the camping, the birds, the fishing, the aesthetics and all other aspects of our national forests. In addition anyone that knows anything about wildlife knows (contrary to popular belief) the herd animals like the roads for access and for sleeping, and whatever. Elks herds are often found bedding down on the roads. And most importantly, roads provide fire breaks, as well as access and regress for fire fighters and equipment. I don’t like bad roads that are not properly built and create erosion problems. Bad roads should be fixed or decommissioned. But not all roads are bad.

    • Hi Robin,

      You are aware that of Yellowstone National Park’s 2.2 million acres about 2,016,000 acres of it have been recommended for Wilderness and the National Park Service currently manages that 2,016,000 acres to maintain its natural wilderness character so as not to preclude wilderness designation in the future, right? Seems to me that Yellowstone has about 200 miles of roads over it’s 2.2 million acres.

      You’re also aware that 95% of Glacier National Park (over 900,000) was recommended as Wilderness by the National Park Service and that NPS policy requires that the recommended wilderness land in Glacier be managed as Wilderness until Congress either formally designates or rejects the designation, right? Seems to me that Glacier also has less than 200 miles of roads within the 1,012,837 acre park.

      So, clearly it appears as if Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are another example of your King’s Forest, but yet you claim above: “the only national parks I have visited are In Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And while there are many restrictions to motorized vehicular use, I believe the system of access in our National Park system has worked very well.”

      Once again Robin, what you’re saying doesn’t seem to add up or make much sense.

  9. Matthew, I read you comments on Yellowstone and Glacier as making my arguement. Roads have not ruined Glacier and Yellowstone. Balancing between access and wilderness is the key. Both your examples serve as samples of exactly the management I think is appropriate. We don’t need a lot of roads. Some areas should be roadless and some should be preserved for wilderness. The key is “Some”. In 1964 therer were less than 10 million acres of wilderness. Now there are over 109 million acres. So it has grown by 100 million acres since 1964. That’s an addition 100 million acres that are being set aside for the healthy and the wealthy. And this does NOT include the wilderness management areas and the roadless areas that have been added.
    Ed. I respect what you have managed with your son. He is one of the fortunate ones that had the resouces and the support that requires him to expierence the wilderness. I hope he was fortunate enough to be able to do it alone. In any case, he is an exceptional individual. Most cannot achieve what he has. With regard to the CDA River, I use it as an example of the polution and TMDL loading that occurs. I could just as easily have said the St. Joe River or the Clark Fork, as every river I am familiar with in north Idaho runs brown with mud in the spring. My point being that with or without roads, there will be brown rivers regardless of the roads and most of the road loading settlement is coming from a few bad spots and not all roads.

    • Jeez, Robin, this is getting awful hard to justify spending any my time on.

      You realize that about 200 miles of roads over a 2 MILLION acre section is land is next to nothing, right?

      For comparison the Idaho Panhandle National Forests cover about 2.5 million acres, but have over 11,000 miles of classified roads.

      But you love how Yellowstone and Glacier are managed, think they have plenty of road access (??), but complain that the Idaho Panhandle National Forests are really just “King’s Forests” because they don’t have enough roads for the poor, kids, elderly and disabled??


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