(Re)naming mountains


I having been using Tim Egan’ s book The Big Burn about the fires of 1910 that changed fire policy in the United States in my public land policy class this semester. A key part of his book is about the early days of the U.S. Forest Service, its Chief Gifford Pinchot, and the forest rangers who, new to the job, tried heroically to fight those fires in Idaho and Montana. He writes about those people in such a way that they come alive.

The legacy those and other fires left that new agency is large and still can lie heavy on it and all of us. The early Forest Service also had its enemies. One of them, Senator Heyburn of Idaho, tried to defund the new agency and have it abolished; it was that “ damn federal government” standing in the way of Heyburn and his cronies. Heyburn was also one of those Senators chosen before the passage of the 17th amendment, the one that now lets citizens elect their US senators.

Mt. Heyburn image courtesy Flickr user aj_jones_iv

This is not a historical footnote; there are those who would repeal that amendment giving us what….more Senator Heyburns? Heyburn did not succeed, but Egan reminds us it was a battle. It is simply amazing then, that a walk around or boat ride on Redfish Lake in Idaho, reveals Mount Heyburn in the Sawtooth Mountain range, one of the Forest Service’ s most proud and important places. Shouldn’ t this mountain have a name more suited to someone who did something to protect the Sawtooths and at least dealt honorably with the agency that manages them? It is time to start the process to change the name of this peak.

John Freemuth  is a professor of political science and public policy at Boise State University.

Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 12:09 AM
How about changing the name of Agassiz Peak in northern Arizona? It was named after Louis Agassiz, the scientific racist. I'm sure there are plenty other examples of geographical features with inappropriate names.
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 07:14 AM
Because of the 17th amendment we elect political hacks of both parties instead of advocates of the states as the founders intended.
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 10:26 AM
I am curious....is every amendment to our Constitution "illegitimate" if it changes the intent of the Founders? How does this square with Jefferson's notion that he thought the Constitution, as written would last for maybe a generation?
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 11:36 AM
Nobody said anything about "illegitimate" It did change the founders intent with unintended results. The House was set up for "the peoples voice"
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 11:53 AM
Why stop at renaming mountains a lot of streets and town names piss me off. Let's purge names of things we hate every 4 years.
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 12:41 PM
Well, we amended the Constitution because we felt that direct election of US Senators was more "democratic" and because of a good deal of corruption. It seems to me that US Senators still do a pretty good job of representing state concerns.Certainly the earmark process is one example. What Ive found in talking with many people is that they want a direct choice, rather than letting state legislatures do the choosing. That seems to be reality today..right or wrong.

As for changing names..go for it! Nothing wrong with that, especially if you think the name is a bad one. That seems to be what some in Idaho feel about Mt. Heyburn, though I'll admit it will be pretty hard to do.
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 12:48 PM
Maybe I thought I was clear, I'll have to do a better job at being sarcastic.
Anonymous says:
Oct 20, 2010 12:50 PM
Im slow but Im trainable.