Just read an article in the paper today explaining how the Smith was almost shut down to river floats and fishing interests due to cold conditions and presence of ice. For those not in the know, the Smith is located in central MT and is one of the premier trout fisheries and floatable rivers in the nation...so much so that the state limits the number of people that can access it on a yearly basis. It seems to me that this raises 2 issues:

1.) Shutting down a wildland area because of climate conditions takes away from the whole reason that people access these areas in the first place -- to expect the unexpected and be prepared for it is the reason that we go into nature. If you are not able to be prepared to deal with poor conditions you should not access these areas! Big brother shouldn't have to look out for you.

2.) Does allowing access to a wild area on a permit basis defeat the whole purpose of setting these places aside for public enjoyment or is the price of conservation worth denying access to a great many people every year (in this case, over 5,000 permits were applied for, approximately 900 were granted).

Any thoughts on how the Smith and other wild areas are managed or should be managed?

Emily Guldborg, Editor