BLACKFOOT VALLEY DISPATCH 7-3-19 Bird's Eye View of Public Land

Jul 3, 2019

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Birdseye View of Lincoln Valley Public Lands Proposal Area

By Roger Dey


Roger Dey

The view west from over Byrnes Creek shows Lone Mountain and a portion of the proposed eastern Scapegoat Wilderness addition in the foreground, with the proposed Stonewall Conservation Management Area in the distance on the far left, the proposed Copper Bowls Winter Recreation Area just to the left of center, and a second proposed addition to the Scapegoat Wilderness near Red Mountain to the right.


A flight over the Lincoln Valley and surrounding mountains provided a different perspective on the legislative proposal unveiled last month by the Upper Blackfoot Working Group.

Last Wednesday EcoFlight, a Colorado company that educates and advocates for the environment using small planes, took members of the group and guests on a tour of the proposal area, to get a different perspective on why the group proposed to designate certain areas for conservation management, forest restoration, recreation or wilderness.

It also provided a look at why some ranchers with land bordering the proposed Nevada Mountain Wilderness are concerned about a potential wilderness area that butts directly up against their property.

Bruce Gordon, The EcoFlight Pilot, hadn't flown the area before, nor was he initially familiar with the project, but he said the flight "brought it into perspective to me in ten minutes."

"I think the most distinct thing I noticed today, when you fly over Nevada Mountain, there is quite a distinct difference between the rest of the landscape," said Eric Grove, acyclist, a member of the Working Group and an advocate for non-motorized recreation. "There's no real sign of human activity in there. It's a very rugged, dense place. That's in contrast to everything else we flew over, where you can see there are roads, there's been timber harvest and other activities."

By contrast it was clear that Ogden Mountain, currently an inventoried roadless area, would be more suitable for forest management. Zach Muse, another member of the Working Group, said there had been logging and mining in the Ogden Mountain areas for years.

"The Inventoried Roadless Area is surrounded by roads," he said, adding an aerial perspective also highlights the need for forest management there. "You can look down on those areas, get the perspective, see all the jackstrawed dead trees down in there. You can't see that from the road, you just see a wall of timber."

Other areas, such as the proposed Sandbar Creek Recreation area, are crossed by roads and trails that are already suitable for motorized recreation.

Roger Dey

The view east from a position just above Silver King Mountain shows the ridgeline of the Alice Mountains. The ridge, with Toms Gulch to the south and Byrnes Creek to the north, marks the boundary between the proposed Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management area to the right and a proposed addition to the Scapegoat Wilderness to the left


Grove said the flight highlighted that the proposal includes plenty of room for both motorized and non-motorized users. "They're minor adjustments to the landscape, but they're going to make a big difference."

The goal of the group is to work collaboratively to develop legislation that can provide a degree of certainty to the management of the National Forest lands around Lincoln, where such efforts by the Forest Service have been stymied by litigation in recent years.

"Collaboration is the worst fear of the people who file these lawsuits," Grove said.