A Wrong Righted & Idaho Government Continues a Dark Plight

9.20.2006
I was informed earlier today by Jonathan Oppenheimer of the ICL (Idaho Conservation League) that the 2001 Roadless Rule had been reinstated - a monumental victory for the environment and all who enjoy it. A wrong righted.

The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was created to establish a nationwide blanket to protect inventoried roadless areas as a whole; it grants the same high level of protection and management to every single roadless area regardless of state legislation (USDA Forest Service, 2005). This approach makes sense because roadless areas often are independent of state and political boundaries, and as such, should be managed as a whole.

The 2001 Roadless Rule was the most supported set of Federal laws ever enacted; 95% of over 1.6 million comments submitted were in support of 2001 Roadless Rule (Wilderness Society, 2005).

Following the news from the ICL, the President of the Wilderness Society issued a formal statement, which can be viewed here. Sadly, on the eve of such great news, and the very same day of the reinstatement, Idaho's Governor announced plans to stay the course - and go against the reinstatement of the nationwide roadless rule. Idaho plans to continue with the grossly unbalanced petition process aimed at building roads into roadless areas for logging, drilling and other invasive and destructive activities. Finally, protections are restored that should have never been revoked in the first place, but yet it matters not to those in power in Idaho.

Interesting facts about Idaho’s roadless areas:
  • Idaho has the most roadless land in the lower 48 with over 9.3 million acres
  • Over 54% of Idaho’s public land is developed; leaving 46% of public land that is considered roadless
  • 74% of Steelhead and Chinook Salmon habitat in roadless areas
  • Steelhead and Salmon fishers spend $60 million annually in Idaho
(Wilderness Society, 2005)

Roadless areas are important because they represent our remaining intact ecosystems, water systems, wildlife areas and open-spaces. Roadless areas represent 2% of land in the entire US (Wilderness Society, 2005). That's all that is left... 2%. If we don't protect our roadless areas now there will be nothing left.

"We simply need wild country available to us, even if we do no more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope." Wallace Stegner

Roadless Rule Background
On May 5th, 2005, the Bush Administration revoked the widely-supported 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and replaced it with the 2005 Roadless Rule. Under this new rule, approximately 60 million acres of pristine wild forests were now open for logging, drilling, road building and other destructive forms of development (Idaho Conservation League, 2005).

The Bush Administration was able to revoke the 2001 Roadless Rule by focusing on changing federal regulations in order to quietly replace the Roadless Rule. Federal regulations are basically proposals that allow for fundamental changes to be made to roadless management with little media attention and a small amount (if any) of public involvement (Wilderness Society, 2005).

On September 20th, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth LaPorte ruled that the Bush Administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act when it repealed the 2001 Roadless Rule. The court found the Bush Administration acted illegally, and reinstated the original 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Wilderness Society, 2006). Management of our public lands has been given back to the public, and taken away from special interest groups. Tainted, greedy Governors and State Governments remain as the largest threat to roadless areas.

Lunch @ Lunchbreak Warm Springs in Idaho

9.11.2006


General Description
A medium sized, lukewarm (not hot) soak on the wrong side of the Salmon River. Lunchbreak features a single pool with rock walls and a sandy / silty bottom which is also the source where warm water percolates up from.


Seasonal Notes
Pool buried under spring runoff. Access road closure during winter.


Camping Notes
Plenty of nearby National Forest primitive sites to choose from along the forest road, and many primitive and official campgrounds along highway 75. There are large, flat sites on the bench above the pool complete with pit toilets.



Trip Report
Not bad for a warm spring on a hot summer day. However, in this area, hot summer days are few and far between and can often mean 70 degrees to the locals. Lunchbreak is near Slate Creek Hot Springs, at the end of a bumpy, single-track road opposite the hwy 75 side of the Salmon river. It's called Lunchbreak because of the pit toilets, picnic tables and sandy beach... add a warm spring and you've got a favorite stop for floaters of all types. I really liked the sandy beach, and the pool felt great in the heat, but the constant traffic on the hwy and river was a little too distracting from the beautiful surroundings.
Rating: B-

Safe Soaking @ Slate Creek - No backpacking though...

9.06.2006


After being turned-away from two attempted pack trips to Bear Valley Hot Springs and the Upper Loon Hot Springs due to wildfires, our troupe ended up at one of the only nearby areas not hampered by wildfire... Slate Creek.


The soaking and camping were excellent, and the hot springs featured a nifty valve addition to the plumbing, which allowed for precise control of the temperature of the incoming hot water.
Rating: A


Side Note
Our stay near the hot springs turned out great despite our preference to backpacking. I was really pulling for Bear Valley and Upper Loon. We encountered moderate amounts of traffic at Slate Creek, in fact, all were friendly soakers.


My only beef was with two hybrid bikers on Slate Creek road. These two idiots just sat on their bikes in the middle of the road upon approach. I originally thought they needed help but that wasn't the case. Just as I stopped they moved out of the road, I asked if they needed any help and they just stared at me. Real smart, and to top it off they were just above a ridge in the road - southbound travelers won't have much of a chance to stop once the ridge is crested.

Sunbeam Hot Springs near Stanely, Idaho

9.01.2006


Riverside, rock walled, user-built pools that vary in size and temperature with rock, gravel and sand bottoms.


Located just off HWY 75 near Sunbeam. Pools are below the historic Sunbeam bathhouse, next to the river, which does not possess any soaking opportunities. However, this is one of the rare public, non-commercial hot springs that actually has a restroom / changing room.


Seasonal Notes
Pools submerge during spring runoff.


Camping Notes
There are plenty of nearby National Forest primitive and official campgrounds along highway 75 to choose from.


08.19.06 Briefing / Trip Report
Ahh yes, Sunbeam is now officially qualified. This place was just starting to get busy when our group arrived. The pools reminded me of Sacajawea, where torrents of hot and cold swirl around the pool bottoms making it difficult to find just the right mix. There were quite a few pools to choose from, and temps seem to traditionally vary in each pool depending on the time of year you visit. One thing is for sure though, this place is popular - don't forget to bring your suit!
Rating B-

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