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  1. #1
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    Outraged: bulldozers OK'd in Frank Church RONR Wilderness

    ... and I can't take my bike in there?

    Forest Service OKs mining bulldozers in wilderness | The Spokesman-Review

    Forest Service OKs mining bulldozers in wilderness

    PUBLIC LANDS -- The Wilderness Act is colliding with federal mining laws in a famed protected roadless area in Central Idaho -- and the mining laws rule.

    Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom has decided to allow miners to bring dump trucks and bulldozers into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday.

    Lannom approved allowing American Independence Mines and Minerals Co. to upgrade a trail back to a road to prove up a claim made prior to the establishment of the wilderness area in 1980. A federal court ordered the Forest Service in 2002 to allow the prospecting of the Golden Hand Mine, located near Big Creek in Valley County.

    “This work is being approved to ensure that valid rights exist,” Lannom said. “To do that, the mining claimant must be allowed to show they have made a discovery.”

    Federal mining laws and the Wilderness Act allow for mining valid claims made prior to protection of the area. The Idaho Conservation League had urged Lannom to instead require the mining company to make its workers walk into the site and to use helicopters and horses to carry necessary equipment into the area.

    “We do understand that this project will impact the wilderness character in the project area by allowing for motorized transportation within the wilderness area,” said Lannom. “We have determined that this course of action will reduce the negative impacts to the greatest extent possible while complying with federal laws and the court order.”

    Lannom said limiting access to foot and horses would not allow the miner his full rights.


    Read more here: Forest Service approves trucks and bulldozers in Frank Church wilderness | Letters from the West | Idahostatesman.com

  2. #2
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    Someone remind me again what the point of the wilderness act is. Because I thought it was to prevent stuff like this and bikes were just an unforeseen side effect.

  3. #3
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    Idaho has a lot of stuff grandfathered into FC-RONR, like airstrips, but this is a little too much.

  4. #4
    Cactus Cuddler
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    As a mountain biker, you're not lobbying on the same scale...
    The wilderness act was a great idea poorly executed, and the fact that no provision was made early on for access to pre-existing mineral rights and such is why they're having to make concessions like this legally, what actually infuriates me is that proponents of the act as-is are unwilling to see where it wasn't adequately thought through despite counterexamples like this, and use that as their basis of insisting that the status quo is perfect as long as it suits their desires to keep out anything they deem an eyesore.

    Again, to actually succeed in preserving wilderness it would have been best to front-load those projects so that environmental impact could be minimized over time. Same idea with allowing bikes in is going to increase the base of supporters who want to keep wilderness areas the way they are, because relying on ignorant urbanites isn't going to be viable long term for keeping wilderness act land the way it is generations from now.

  5. #5
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    So how would you feel if you volunteered your time using hand saws to clear trail because they would not allow chainsaws due to Wilderness regulations. ..now this. ..

  6. #6
    saddlemeat
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    Why not buy his claim, we waste billions on much less significant stuff? Seems disingenuous to deny the man the claim you sold him, and that he has maintained, plus he won his lawsuit for access. Do you really want a gov't that would do what, just shoot him?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailnimal View Post
    So how would you feel if you volunteered your time using hand saws to clear trail because they would not allow chainsaws due to Wilderness regulations. ..now this. ..
    At least you got some good exercise.

  8. #8
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    From reading the article it doesn't look like mining has been approved but they are allowing the owner to go in and prove that there are minerals before they make that decision. The approval was for 11 core drilling sites and a road to the pads.

    This was actually approved in January and since then the USFS has just been taking comments on whether or not they were requiring enough safeguards.

    Rocky Barker: A mine in the Idaho wilderness? | Idaho Companies | Idahostatesman.com

    "Lannom said he doesn't want comments about whether mining should be allowed in wilderness - because he doesn't have that choice. He wants people to "comment on whether or not you think the Forest Service is requiring the mining company to adequately provide for the safeguarding of surface natural resources within the wilderness area."



    It's interesting that I get a 404 error on all the documents here:
    Forest Service


    The solution would be a land swap. Trade some non-wilderness mining claims for this one.

  9. #9
    middle ring single track
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    IMHO this means that the Wilderness Act is not some Holy Grail and perhaps MTB wilderness access advocacy is not some lost cause.
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  10. #10
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    I wonder where exactly in big creek his claim is. The airstrips that are in big creek right now are there because a cat was walked in and created the strips. late 50's early 60's. the cat also dugs its own grave and crawled into it, and was buried. There used to be some old mining towns in big creek also, they even had a school. I have hunted in the big creek drainage 4 different times, so i know the area. there is also state land in big creek where you can use a chain saw. So the wilderness laws are not always black and white, like we want them to be. And there is alot of historical use in big creek.

  11. #11
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Why not buy his claim, we waste billions on much less significant stuff? Seems disingenuous to deny the man the claim you sold him, and that he has maintained, plus he won his lawsuit for access. Do you really want a gov't that would do what, just shoot him?
    He has to be willing to sell his claim first. There are people in the "property rights" fringe who feel their property rights trump all else. All federal parcels, including those managed under the wilderness act have inholdings in them as a legacy of the various 19th century land laws intended to encourage the settlement and development of the west. The federal (and state and local) government regularly buys or trades inholdings to consolidate public lands but some landowners are hostile to the idea or want way more in $ or trade than their land is worth. It's a thorny issue and s**t like this is going to happen on small scales but IMO it doesn't invalidate the worth of all land protection laws, it just shows how complex and difficult a job it is to manage public lands.

  12. #12
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by pliebenberg View Post
    IMHO this means that the Wilderness Act is not some Holy Grail and perhaps MTB wilderness access advocacy is not some lost cause.
    Getting the wilderness act passed required a lot of negotiations and compromise - just like any other legislation. Prior use and especially property rights were and are a big deal. The wilderness act was passed well before MTBs came along so it's pretty hard to argue them a prior use. Now if you have an inholding in wilderness and want to ride your bike to your property, that might be something that you could argue for..

  13. #13
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    Bicycles were added to the Wilderness act in 1984, much later than the writing of the orignal bill.

  14. #14
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    Bicycles were added to the Wilderness act in 1984, much later than the writing of the orignal bill.
    Actually, 10 years while not a long time for those raised on instant media isn't very long for the lifespan of a piece of legislation like the wilderness act. That the bike language was added relatively quickly shows that at the time there was a fair amount of consensus at the time. How that would play out if it were to be repeated today, in the current politics is another question, but you can say the same about a lot of other statutes and legislation that is currently law.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    Bicycles were added to the Wilderness act in 1984, much later than the writing of the orignal bill.
    No, they were not added to the statute. An agency regulatory interpretation was reversed to ban bicycles, after previous regulations had allowed them. Congress didn't revisit the Wilderness Act to ban bikes, from what I have read the USFS did it via administrative regulation.

    https://www.imba.com/sites/default/f...eview%20TS.pdf

  16. #16
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    First, the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, so 20 years not 10. The bike language was added to administrative regulations, not the statute. I don't think it shows anything about consensus, it shows that mtb was a young sport with no influence at the time, and other groups with influence were able to get the reg revised.

    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Actually, 10 years while not a long time for those raised on instant media isn't very long for the lifespan of a piece of legislation like the wilderness act. That the bike language was added relatively quickly shows that at the time there was a fair amount of consensus at the time. How that would play out if it were to be repeated today, in the current politics is another question, but you can say the same about a lot of other statutes and legislation that is currently law.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACree View Post
    First, the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, so 20 years not 10. The bike language was added to administrative regulations, not the statute. I don't think it shows anything about consensus, it shows that mtb was a young sport with no influence at the time, and other groups with influence were able to get the reg revised.

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