Honorable Max Baucus
113 3rd St. NO.
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
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
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
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
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.
Craig S. Osterman