Subscribe for 33¢ / day

After reading the opinion by the Backcountry Horsemen of Montana and Wyoming opposing Sen. Daines and Rep. Cheney's bill to remove proposed Wilderness Study Areas in Montana and Wyoming and put them back under Forest Service multiple use management, I would like to make this observation.

The Backcountry Horsemen, Sierra Club, etc., position themselves as saviors of all wild and scenic country. The reality is they want as much area as they can force into wilderness for their own private playground. Anyone who does not have the time, physical ability, or skill and access to horses is virtually locked out of these areas. In my lifetime I have been fortunate to have been in five wilderness areas and two national parks on horses with pack strings. If you didn't have to work for a living and could spend six months a year in any of the existing wilderness, you wouldn't cross your tracks in 40 years.

If the WSAs are released back to Forest Service multi-use management, then the other 98 percent of us would have designated access for ATVs, UTVs and other motorized vehicles. Families can then take a day or weekend and enjoy all the forest has to offer. Studies have shown a steady decline in the public’s use of our National Forests, and lack of access is one of the main reasons.

I would encourage The Gazette staff to go to the Forest Service and get a motorized travel map and try to make heads or tails out of it. Ask them for their study, why some trails are for 50-inch-or-less width ATVs with one person but not allowing 60-inch UTVs that can carry up to four people?

Simplify the regulations, and more people will feel welcome to enjoy the outdoors without having an attorney on retainer.

Ron Shoen