« Return to this article

Know the West

Stop the assaults on wilderness

  Dear HCN,

Scott Stouder's article about extending a road on the rim of Hells Canyon brought back memories (HCN, 4/14/97). I guided river trips in Hells Canyon, backpacked through the Oregon-side wilderness areas, and taught school in Halfway, Ore., in the early "70s. His article illustrated the continuous assault on wilderness values throughout the West by "wise-use" forces.

There are other examples: snowmobile tracks in Yellowstone National Park's Hayden Valley, race-car driver Bobby Unser's well-documented snowmobile invasion of the San Juan Wilderness in Colorado, and rock star Ted Nugent's recent plea to "tear down the walls to wilderness in North America" so he can hunt in national parks.

The attempt by New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Steve Schiff to delete 8.5 acres from Petroglyph National Monument to bisect the monument with a six-lane highway is another development-inspired attack upon the integrity of the national parks system. While that urban element of the system is not wilderness by any stretch of the imagination, it is a sacred landscape to Native Americans and is as close to wilderness as many people in Albuquerque ever experience.

I say defeat Rep. Bob Smith's HR-799 to dilute Hells Canyon wilderness. I say defeat the proposed Domenici-Schiff legislation to desecrate Petroglyphs National Monument. And may I suggest two new books to read: Rick Bass' The Book of Yaak and Jack Turner's The Abstract Wild.

Verne Huser

Albuquerque, New Mexico