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November 29, 2007

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Missouri's Big Spring Sparks Congressional Scrape

A battle is brewing over federal wilderness protection for the largest freshwater spring in North America.

From the Environment News Service:

The Missouri Wilderness Coalition, an informal network of 18 conservation groups, says Big Spring area and six other areas of the[Mark Twain] national forest totalling [sic.] 49,323 acres need new protections that only Congress can provide, because they are now being targeted for logging and roadbuilding by the U.S. Forest Service. . . .

This week the coalition ran into trouble when U.S. Representatives Jo Ann Emerson and Roy Blunt, both Missouri Republicans, announced their joint opposition to the wilderness protection proposal.

Be sure to check out the full story.

Comments

Matt Mallery

You would think in the east, where so much has been lost and there is so little public land, everyone would be eager to protect what little is left.

nwtfkyle

I personally love how the U.S. Forest Service operates-multiple usage. If loggers want to log, let them log. Saying that, there also needs to be some protected areas though. There are plenty of conservation minded logging practices that can be implemented also. There has to be a happy medium for everything. I like the idea behing conservation better than that of preservation.

Tommy

nwtfkyle,

I think I got that right. You make a great point about conservation rather than preservation. And if that is what it comes to - that is what it comes to.

However, I, like Matt, would love to see preservation as much as possible.

I would like to see this area, if it would logistically make sense, and from the artical stating horesback and hikes could still access; I think it would be, turned into a national forest. I have spent many years hiking, climbing and camping amongst the Linville Gorge, a beautiful, pristine, wilderness area in Western NC. The cities and townships have definitely benefited from this allottment. The restaurants and shops; new businesses that have popped up, and the increased load on established businesses really helped the area. Plus the area is used for hunters as well. I have never hunted there. Too many people running dogs for bear for my taste.

But the point is, it is a resourse FOR THE PEOPLE! We can use it. And we can use it basically unaltered by big business. And it should remain that way forever.

That is one difference between conservation and preservation; at least in this case.

nwtfkyle

Great comment, Tommy.

Tommy

Thanks,

Though I may have misspoken a bit after I thought about it. Much of Linville is park lands and alot is wildrness areas. I don't know how protected they really are. I seem to recall reading; that a national forest is protected forever, such as the Pisgah National Forest, which I believe encompasses the Linville Gorge. Perhaps Wilderness Areas are protected too, I am not sure. Research needed I suppose!

But either way - I would love to see the area protected somehow - though the humans keep making "progress", so we have to keep building I suppose. This is a reality.

And I agree with you that they could possibly log the area with conservation in mind; especially when it comes to thinning the stand of trees to help with fires, if it has to be done.

YooperJack

I don't know if its my internal bias or if I'm seeing the forest through the trees, but while I know that we need some wilderness, the acreage should be minimal. Wilderness to me spells economic disaster for the locals.
I can only look at my area.
When people make reference to Tourism they usually are talking about people coming up here for some specified reason. Three major catagories of these people are Walleye, Lake Trout and Salmon fishing, Deer hunting and snowmobiling. These three catagories are highly visible. Right now, just about every out-of-state plate has someone with orange clothing driving. In a month, they'll all be pulling snowmobile trailers. In six months, they'll switch to a boat trailer.
Maybe wilderness users are invisible. We drive by state parks and see them loaded with tents and trailers. We can't drive by a wilderness area and see the users so its very difficult to determine how much a wilderness area contributes.
I'm not anti-wilderness per se. I think that extraordinary areas should be preserved, but the preserved area should imact the other areas of that forest as litlle as possible.
Any thoughts?

Tommy

Yooper,

What is the difference between a wilderness area and a national forest?

YooperJack

Tommy
National Forests are managed for "Multiple Use". This means that everyone's interests must be addressed. This includes, Hunters, fishermen, loggers and sawmill, bird watchers and berry pickers. It sould also include local economic impacts such as motels, restaurants and sporting goods stores. Wilderness areas are managed to maintain the area as it was prior to settlement by Europeans.
I think that kind of covers it, but I've probably forgotten certain aspects of both.

Tommy

Yooper,

If that's fairly accurate - I would like to see more wilderness areas. Linville Gorge Wilderness area is the coolest place I have ever seen. The peaks are not as high as out west, but I can tell you, a 12 mile gorge with rock faces from 20 to 700 feet are freaking awesome. Also, the terrain is unbelievably rugged. From what I understand the trails are rated as some of the toughest in the country.

And as I mentioned before, the area is frequented by hunters in bear season. The area is used by everyone from day hikers to multi-day hikers and campers, hunters, climbers, photographers, etc. etc. etc.

It is truly a magnificient place, and we would be richer to have more like them set aside.

nwtfkyle

Yooper and Tommy,
I agree with both of you, but in my area of IN, it seems that national and state forests take up much more land than fish and wildlife areas. I don't know much about you're areas, but I think that the preserved lands and the "Mulitple Use" lands are fairly well distributed. IN has some screwed up hunting rules, but our guys at the state house do have their eyes open and see things that need to be done.

For example, our "preserved" state parks, just like national parks, have an over population of deer, at least some of these parks do. The IDNR has allowed some limited hunting in these state parks. I think that even preserved lands, under the right conditions, should be subject to change. Be it hunting, development to benefit users, etc.

Tommy

nwtfkyle,

Good point. I was speaking to a wildlife officer while setting up camp last winter, (crappie trip at Jordan Lake), and we were talking about just what you mentioned. He even stated that the state seriously needed to allow limited hunts in the state park areas. We both agreed it doesn't take long at all for those whitetails to learn what area is safe, and when; year in and year out. He was a very open-minded, thougtful officer, don't meet many of those, and he even told me how I could get around in the camp area, with my bow, so I could go hunting the next season directly from camp by boat in the early am.

To close - I agree - there should be room for debate and compromise when it comes to the use of these lands.

Greg

I certainly hope that this area can be protected. I have personally been to the spring and it is awesome! I caught my very first trout in the Current river.

YooperJack

I think all of the National Forests are required to protect sensitive areas. We have to stay back from all streams at least 100' and designated trout streams at least 200'. Normally, the streambed itself is left untouched. Certainly, if there is a highbank, the timber sale will stat on top.
That Linville Gorge sounds like a really nice place! I want those areas preserved as much as anybody.




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