Officials Mull Making Scotchman Peaks Wilderness

By Beacon Staff

SANDPOINT, Idaho — A draft forest management plan is recommending making more than 25,000 acres of the Scotchman Peaks area in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana part of a federally protected wilderness.

The recommendation is part of a draft record of decision developed for the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports the new draft updates the existing 1987 forest plan, a document developed to guide management of the forests for the next 15 years.

It’s not the first time the Scotchman Peaks have been eyed for wilderness designation. The old plan recommended 23,900 acres in both states be designated wilderness. The new plan simply adds 2,000 more acres to that total.

A group called Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has spent years building support for protecting the area. The proposal also has the support of timber and mining interests, as well as sportsmen and hikers, the newspaper reported.

“As a whole, the plan moves forward a lot of things and, obviously, wilderness is only one aspect of management,” said Phil Hough, executive director of the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. “It’s a good step forward.”

The draft plan and accompanying environmental study were released for public review last month. The forest is accepting public comments on the proposal until late November. A final record of decision is due in about six months.

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