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Know the West

We need Wilderness Watch


The issues discussed in "The law, the lookout and the logging town" are significant, but the focus is wrong (HCN, 1/23/12). Lookouts are great, but in wilderness areas they straddle the boundary between historic and intrusive. Wilderness is not for people even though we benefit from it. The Wilderness Act of 1964 is clear: Abandoned wilderness lookouts do not merit massive reconstruction. The best are minimally restored, like Clearwater Forest's Grave Peak, where Norman Maclean based his story "USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky." The Forest Service attempts to balance public use and preservation, but sometimes gets it wrong. That's why we need groups like Wilderness Watch to blow the whistle.

As for "the logging town," maintaining every road and trailhead will hardly bring back a lost industry or generate a new one in tourism. Sustainable tourism will be hard won, not a quick fix.

Tom Van de Water
Canton, New York