Honorable Max Baucus

113 3rd St. NO.

Great Falls, Mt.  59404                                                                                                                         March 7, 2005

 

 

Re: Proposed Winton Weydemeyer Wilderness

 

Dear Honorable Senator,

 

Please accept my following comments on this "Proposed Wilderness Designation" in the Flathead National Forest.

 

As a member of the Great Falls Snowmobile Club, Montana Snowmobile Association, Snowmobile Alliance of Western States, Citizens for Balanced Use, and the Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association, I am an avid Motorized Recreationalist.  I am also a strong supporter of maintaining Montana's Public Land for Multiple Use. 

 

As a Montana Citizen my entire life I have yet to step foot in a Wilderness.  Why?  Because I have grown up and still choose to recreate motorized.  I started riding snowmobiles when I was four years old and motorcycles at the age of eight.  Presently I still ride snowmobiles and now have an ATV.  This is how I spend my relaxing time with my family.  I have two boys, ages 10 and 7 and a little girl of 19 months.  Motorized recreation gives me the opportunity to enjoy our family time together the same as I did with my Dad.  With the continued pressure to close massive amounts of Public Land off to the motorized community I will not be recreating with my grandchildren the way I imagined I would.  I don't recreate in the Wilderness areas of Montana because they do not allow me to recreate the way I choose.  I am not going to hike with small children into a Wilderness for a one-night stay and then hurry back to make work the next day.  The only feasible way for me to enjoy family recreation on a weekly basis is to recreate motorized.  If Public Land is managed as non-motorized use only, my family will not be recreating on a weekly basis.  In fact we may only witness the splendor of our Montana Mountains by driving the established highways that run thru them.  This would eliminate our chances of experiencing these great mountains as a family the way we choose.  I will more than likely not be able to hike these areas, as I grow older with my children and grandchildren due to physical limitations.  Motorized recreation will continue to offer me quality time with my family now and in the future if Multiple Use Areas are left open for Forest Service Management.

 

By removing this vast amount of Public Land from the management practice of Multiple Use, there will be a smaller area for the motorized community to enjoy.  It is a well-known fact that motorized recreation is gaining in popularity.  Does this constitute the need for more land being pulled from Multiple Use?  I think just the opposite is true.  By restricting Motorized Recreation into less and less land mass we will be creating a scenario that will result in significant resource damage that the Forest Service is already trying to minimize with Travel Plan Amendments that have a lot more Closures in their Plans than they do allowable Travel.  Once this resource damage starts to become apparent further closures will ensue until some day, probably in my lifetime, motorized recreation will be nonexistent.  An entire way of life for the majority of Montana's will be lost.

 

The Economic Impact to the surrounding communities of this proposed Wilderness would be significant.  Now I am not an economic major but I do realize that removing an entire sector of the population from the economic equation will be felt by all businesses.  Especially when that part of the population is the majority of Users.  I rode this area while riding the Trans Montana Ride for the first time this year.  It was beautiful country and I feel fortunate to be able to experience this great wild area the way that I choose.  There are several studies out that show snowmobiling is amongst the top 3 tourist revenues for the state of Montana.  Not only out of state snowmobilers, but Montana snowmobilers are known to travel new areas on an annual basis.  You only have to look at West Yellowstone to appreciate the Economic Impact snowmobiling, or the lack there of, can have on a rural Montana community.  I know that next year Eureka, Mt. will be on my list of places to snowmobile with my family on our winter vacation.

 

My last comment is this, we the Users are being kicked off our Public Lands by a group of individuals that literally do not use this same land.  There are acres upon acres of Public Land that will never see a human being during the winter because if you are not on a snowmobile they are inaccessible or unattainable by non-motorized modes of travel.  I can ride 60 miles in a relatively short period of time, take in the wild and beautiful scenery and then return all in the same day.  I may encounter a few other snowmobilers, but it is very minimal when we have more acres available to us and more areas to witness on any given outing.  I have never witnessed an encounter with any animals in these higher elevations because even they do not winter in 6-8 feet of snow.  So my family and myself are literally the only ones out in the further reaches of the mountains.  Snowshoers and cross-country skiers are not here due to the travel limitations of the human body.  So is it really justified to shut off millions of acres to the majority that actual use the land in favor of the ideology of the few that doesn't?  I do not believe this a true statement and the actual users should be given more consideration in maintaining our Public Lands for Multiple Use.

 

In conclusion, I am against this Proposed Action and look forward to your reply.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Craig S. Osterman