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As the Hidden Gems wilderness campaign gathers speed, maybe it’s time to slow down and ask some questions that have yet to be posed.
For example, after extensive public review and numerous tax-funded studies starting in the 1990s, the Forest Service presented a plan in 2002 that proposes 80,000 acres in new wilderness designations. Questions: Why is the Forest Service plan being ignored, while the Hidden Gems proposal for 400,000 acres of wilderness gets all the attention in the press? The Hidden Gems proposal was not born of a formal, public process. It was created in private by a coalition of non-profit groups that are answerable not to the public, but only to their own members.
Here’s another question: Where are the Hidden Gems studies concerning water, grazing, hunting, recreation and related activities in the White River National Forest? I have been unable to obtain any of these studies.
There are many more questions yet to be answered, but here’s one more. Which group stands to gain if Hidden Gems wins? Many of the supporters on the Hidden Gems Web site stand to profit from restricting access to the White River National Forest.
So many questions, so few answers, so much at stake.