Scotchman Peaks Group Not-So-Friendly After All
by Shari Dovale
Last night drew several hundred people to Clark Fork to hear more about Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness designation. The ‘Friends of Scotchman Peaks’ have been trying to get the land changed to a wilderness designation for years. They finally got Senator James Risch on board to put forth a bill to accomplish just that.
The presentations had one major theme they wanted to say to the public: The change in designation would not substantially change anything about Scotchman Peaks. It would only affect who managed the land.
- The ‘Friends’ used the word ‘permanent’ a little too often. (This was a concern to many in the audience.)
- The presenters repeatedly stated how this has always been ‘Federal Land’ and refused to allow discussion on how the US Constitution defines this issue.(Article I, Sec. 8, Clause 17 )
- They continued to state that they had a majority of community support, yet could not name any local meeting about the issue before that evening. (I have heard the figure of “over 6,000 people” support this effort, which is coincidentally the rough estimate of the group’s membership, including many that do not live in this area.)
- It was asked by multiple members of the audience why there hadn’t been a public vote to prove the community support. (The conversation was diverted at these times.)
The meeting did not go quite as planned. Phil Hough, Executive Director for Friends of Scotchman Peaks, and the other presenters were not prepared to answer the hard questions, as most of them were deflected and ignored.
I found it comical that the ‘Friends’ tried to tell Sheriff Wheeler that he would need permission to go into the wilderness to rescue people, if necessary. I don’t think they understand our Sheriff. I cannot foresee him wasting any time trying to get permission to rescue people. He will just do it. I wonder how the ‘Friends’ would react to that?
Sheriff Wheeler had this to say after the meeting:
“After attending the proposed Scotchman’s Peak Wilderness meeting in Clark Fork I have come to the conclusion that this matter needs to take ten giant steps backwards before proceeding with any legislation.
It is apparent that a small group has organized and lobbied to pass legislation before following the basic rules of consultation with the public. The very people that will be affected the most were never included in the decision making. Last night’s meeting was the first public meeting held by either County or Federal officials to discuss the impact to those citizens living adjacent to Scotchman’s Peak. The potential for trouble is great if some feel disenfranchised.
I would urge all parties to consent to put this matter to a vote at the next general election in May or November. It is not fair to the general public to conduct a specialty election where only the supporters know the details.”
At one point, Sandy Compton, the group’s Program Director, took away the microphone from Sharon Banning when she disagreed with the presenters. The audience erupted with calls to allow her to finish.
Overall, it was made very clear that this group of un-elected people want the authority to keep the public from this land. They want to decide who can go up there, how they can get there, and what they can do when they arrive.
The ‘Friends of Scotchman Peaks’ came off as a group of radical environmental activists that were uncompromising and bent on passing their globalist agenda at all costs.