Recent comments

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Driving up I- 70 a few weeks ago several large wooden towers stuck up out of the forest with zip lines strung between them.

    Roger - those zip lines where within a 100 ft of a 4 lane Interstate with cars going 70 miles an hour. They were hardly intrusive and it was hardly forest. Actually, they were built to mimic the mining structures that are along the same route and blend in quite nicely.

    Zeb comes from a mountain biking perspective but that isn't the only or even main issue. Personally, I see far less of an issue with mountain bikes than say horses in terms of their negative impact. But again, I would be more than happy to allow Horses, Mtn Bikes or even ATVs and Snowmobiles (neither of which I am a fan of) and certainly chainsaws if it meant the area was less vulnerable to paved roads or other development. This is especially true in areas where ATV and/or Snowmobile use has been prevelent in the past.

    When you were in CO, did you get off the main roads? There are millions of acres within a few miles that feel like Wilderness without the Wilderness restrictions. Wish I would have been here to show you around.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Good for you EC. You still fail to see what the wilderness act is about, so it doesn't matter. I dont have the time or patience to get into a 50 page thread trying to convince you of it's importance.

    Sometimes a tree falls in the forest before a trail crew can get to it. That's when you either blaze through and climb over or around it, or take your ball and go home wishing to go play in the city park on the swing set. I guess that's why they call it the WILDerness. If you expect everything to be easy then you are in the wrong place.

    That's part of the problem, Rodger, they want the "amusement park", not the "National Park". And some can't seem to get that a National Park is not an Amusement Park.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    There have been several sidetracks in this thread but the main issue is mountain bikes in wilderness. The goal of IMBA and almost all other mountain bike organizations is building up a constituency that will have the political clout to get all wilderness trails open to mountain bikes. Zip lines cannot be far behind. Driving up I- 70 a few weeks ago several large wooden towers stuck up out of the forest with zip lines strung between them.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    dillutes the wilderness experience for others, and harasses wildlife.

    Funny. I have hiked thousands of miles in non-wilderness and can't think of a single instance where I experienced "NOISE POLLUTION" from chain saws. Like Zeb, I have hiked many a "Wilderness" where trails were nearly impassable. Harass wildlife? I just did a 8 NPS unit road trip including Yellowstone. Bison on the road, Elk walking through campsites. Critters everywhere. I don't think the wildlife is goint to find itself "harassed" by an infrequent chainsaw.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Simple. NOISE POLLUTION dillutes the wilderness experience for others, and harasses wildlife.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I'm with Zeb. I would rather see more "Wilderness" with less restrictions than less Wilderness with more restrictions. Tell us Gary, what is the logic of not allowing a chainsaw in the Wilderness to clear a trail?

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I hike in many wilderness areas in a year. I just got back hiking the Sawtooth wilderness, spent 4 days in the Painted Desert/Rainbow Forest, and spent two days in the Congaree wilderness this year. In all places, the trails are being maintained, and were fine. And seriously, Zeb, you must not actually get deep into the wilderness, because in many of these areas it's impossible for an ATV to get back there. Good luck trying to get an ATV over many of the passes in the Rockies, Sierras, or even in major areas of the Appalachian range, or in the badlands of the painted desert. Unless it's a magic flying ATV.

    Also, if you haven't paid attention to the primary elections this year, the teaparty is getting flushed in many of the races. They are done, and the next congress will not be like the current one.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Interesting thoughts.

    Idiotic restrictions on Wilderness: trails are barely maintained because the various agencies can't/won't use chainsaws to cut trees. Instead, we have to either heli drop or send on horses folks who will cut trees by hand. It's hugely inefficient, expensive, and basically doesn't get much done. If instead, we'd let the local ranger use a quad and a chainsaw a week or two a year, we'd have trails better maintained without really impacting the wild character of the place. Instead, we cling to a belief that somehow we must use late 19th century tools to be more pure. Under what pretense? The whole thing is nonsensical. Unless, of course, we want to close Wilderness to all users. That may be even purer. Why even bother with humans in the sanctity of mother nature's cathedral?

    As for the various chicken little arguments that it's either Wilderness or EPA superfund, it's just silly.

    Wilderness is really pushed by folks who want everyone else to enjoy the great outdoors only according to what the wildernuts think it pure enough. A great show of tolerance... (that's sarcasm right there, for clarity).

    Again, if any of you wonder why so little new Wilderness has emerged, it might be because it's so dang restrictive and therefore attracts so much resistance every time a new one gets created. Nature can be protected and enjoyed by many without resorting to Wilderness designation. But then, you would have to share it with other recreationists...

    Happy 50th. Can't wait for it to be amended. May not happen in Roger's lifetime, but it may happen in mine.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 2 days ago

    What irks me about the situation is that Smokiesbackpacker (John Quillen) constantly goats people into his accusations to push his agenda, and Kurt allows this to go on AND ON AND ON with no reprimand to him, only to the people that call him out on it.. There is no DOCUMENTED proof that 4 wheelers from ANY outside group are using the Smokies. There is only one account in which John Quillen was at a campsite when a 4 wheeler came through while on a search and rescue. John Quillen is the same guy with an agenda and a lawsuit against the park. How come no one else is pushing this story if it were true? How come the local media hasn't come out with stories, and proof of these claims (one would think this would be a somewhat big local news story if true)? Because they are unfounded and not true. That's why. He even knows this, but now "there's a coverup" because he can't prove his claims other than this one incident. The local media already knows that these guys just promote unfounded rumors to drum up propaganda and harass people. They've been banned from numerous local sites because that IS THEIR GIG.

    Cane Creek is an old road that was used by residents before the area became a park. The park is allowed to drive vehicles on it for S&R and maintenance if they are authorized. This ATV incident was reported online on numerous sites and other witnesses stated that this was for a S&R. The links to these reports was already posted in that "Accusation of illegal trails thread", and i'm not going to get back into this because this thread has NOTHING to do with blackberry farms. It's about DESIGNATED WILDERNESS and getting the park service to designate MORE areas that could be turned into wilderness.. The Smokies is technically not wilderness, and PEER does state in this article that it needs to be on the table and the job needs finished. John even mistakenly tries to state that it's designated wilderness in his post above, when it clearly is not if he read this article. Instead of just reading the comments looking at any opportunity to try and goat me into a fight, he should read the article first. So, he doesn't even get the basics on the wilderness act, or how the Smokies is managed. Unfortunately just about EVERY thread on the traveler in which the GSMNP is mentioned, always devolves into this blackberry farms issue. It's not called hypocrisy, when you don't buy into these conspiracies or his constant bullying tactics. And it's definitely not hypocrisy because until the Smokies is designated wilderness, the management is permitted from utilizing ATV's on S&Rs in non designated wilderness. I've seen the park use ATV's when doing trail maintence on old road beds that are technically trails like Hazel Creek, and Bradley Fork. They are allowed to do that, because it's not wilderness. If it was wilderness, they would have to leave the ATV's at home, like the rest of us.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Smokies, I certainly have not , now or ever, had "no problem" with a private resort using ATVs in a wilderness or national park.

    Like many others here, I know nothing about the Smokies situation beyond what I've read here. But I fully agree that if what you say is true, it was wrong and must be stopped. Making a blanket accusation of hypocrisy is usually wrong and does little to help anyone's cause because it makes them look like a zealot whose ideology trumps good sense. If you really want to advance your cause -- and it sounds like it's one that should be pursued -- perhaps you should consider backing off the hyperbole and personal accusations.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of that on both sides of the Smokies issues in Traveler's comments forum. (And Cape Hatteras, too.) As a result, I (and I'm sure other readers as well) can see nothing more than a confusing cloud of rancor that leaves me wondering what the truth might really be.

    If there are indeed problems, we need to work together to solve them. Calling one another names usually kills any cooperation dead cold.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    First, the Smokies is NOT DESIGNATED WILDERNESS, its managed as wilderness. If you manage to READ this actual article, you can find a link to documents stating how the Smokies is managed in regards to the wilderness act. Since it's not designated wilderness that allows the park to utilize ATV's and vehicles in the backcountry for S&R and maintence. If it was designated wilderness, neither of those things would be permitted. The rest of the accusations were debunked in another thread, and others that were there during the supposed observation came out and said that it was during an S&R.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Ok, folks, back off the personal attacks and gratuitous comments. We've deleted one such comment that went over the top, and won't hesitate to hit the delete key again if necessary. There's no need for such vitriol and serves no purpose other than to divert my efforts from other Traveler needs.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Zeb--I don't think you have to be a fanatic, a wilderness zealot, or a former NPS employe to support wilderness designation. I don't quite get what you mean when you say it is to "restrictive". You can walk, hike, run, ride horses, backpack, day trip etc. in designated wilderness. Willderness is as close to wild as you can get in the US today. That is why it is worthy of preservation and protection. We ought to be thankful for every acre we have and strive to create more when conditions are right.


  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    How hypocritical that someone here would be railing against ATV use in wilderness areas but have no problems when a private resort runs ATV's in a designated wilderness area in the Smokies. By the way, I went back up to the Blackberry Farm area and have documented where the private resort has now scraped their blazes off the trees. I will post pictures of them as soon as I get them up.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Some great thoughts there, Roger. As someone else mentioned earlier, we are a nation of people who too often think only of the present and how much we can reap from NOW without regard for anything beyond today.

    But, Roger, for the sake of my grandkids, I hope wilderness will continue to be managed as it is forever.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Perhaps Zebulon is right and that mountain bikers will get their wish and all wilderness trails will be opened to mountain bikers, including those on electric bikes. Then they will support wilderness to keep out the dirt bikers, but why should they be excluded? The future is hard to predict. I don't know how old he is but someday he may be to old for the thrills and spills of mountain biking and wish there were places he could walk, if he still can, without being crowded off the trails by mountain bikers. For me at 78, I hope wilderness will still be managed as it is for 10 or 20 more years at least.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    So Zeb, are you advocating ATV use in wilderness?

    Unfortunately, we don't have much choice when it comes to existing factory spaces and urban sprawl, but what is keeping us from doing a better job of planning in the future?

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    We can definitely have factory areas and wilderness in the States. Neither are non-exclusive to the other. I like my computers and gadgets, but not every area of this country needs mined and logged. Only 4% of the American land mass is wilderness, and most of that area is in Alaska. If there were 40% wilderness in the states, then the screaming zealots might have more of a point when they say there is too much wilderness.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    My conscience wouldn't let me change sides on this one.

    But I'm guessing it will let you enjoy the fruits of those factory spaces and urban sprawl.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Some, although only a vocal minority on this park-supportive site, say we have too much wilderness. Others, like me, say we have too much factory space, too much toxic space, too much urban sprawl space.

    In a nation like this we are both entitled to our opinions. My conscience wouldn't let me change sides on this one.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I used to live near the Craters wilderness, and would head out into the wilderness during the wildflower bloom. It is quite the place, and having it to yourself was almost a given. Also, many of those Kipukas where the lava surrounded the hills, left remnants of what the Snake River Plain used to look like. These areas are hard to reach (but not impossible), because you have to cross, and climb over all that sharp lava fields for a few miles all cross country, but they still harbor intact plant communities that have been wiped from other areas because of sheep and cattle grazing. But, hey, the wilderness act is useless... who cares about that stuff right? It would all be better as concrete, and that lava should be mined and crushed and used for lava stone in peoples gardens acording to the subjugators.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    No one is saying that it's magic. What the act does is protect resources from extractive industries that will mar it. Once again, you seem to fail to understand what the wilderness act does. You choose the highway of the lazy thinker, obviously.

    This is what you want :

    Yep, Zebbies vision of what should be a "wilderness".. If you look closely, there might be one tree way out in the distance that still lives in this mad max looking place.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I am all for Wilderness designation - the more the better. Wilderness designation is much more restrictive than National Park designation.

    We spent a couple of days this spring in the wilderness area of Craters of the Moon. It was amazingly peaceful when compared to the utter chaos and ado of the developed area. Well, we and a couple thousand sheep. They got pretty loud but, somehow, we didn't mind so much.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Gary, so how is sitting on a horse in the middle of a pack train, drinking beer, earning your way? Recreation modes have changed, and the Wilderness proponents are still clinging to a mid 19th century mode of travel, as if Wilderness was magically created then... I predict that it will evolve, but it'll take another generation or two for it to happen.

  • Assessing National Park Wilderness On The 50th Anniversary Of The Wilderness Act   2 weeks 3 days ago

    In Memory of former Supt. Paul Fritz:


    Sit sometime in the middle of the Black Flow of Craters of the Moon. Though only three miles from a paved road, you will be a half day's journey into the wilderness. And a century into the past. The mood is unmistakably wild and remote. It is like being in a motionless black ocean. [61]

    The passage of the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964 mandated that all National Park Service sites with five thousand or more contiguous roadless acres be studied for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. The act stipulated a ten-year review period; Craters of the Moon's study was begun and completed in 1965, and its wilderness established in 1970. The first Pacific Northwest Region park unit to be designated as wilderness, the monument, along with Petrified Forest National Park, was the also the first NPS unit to be granted the status by Congress. Relatively "issue" free in the public sector, the creation of the area's wilderness caused some internal conflicts within the Park Service itself. Because of this and the honor of being "first," the wilderness area's establishment deserves special attention.

    In May 1965, Superintendent Roger Contor, joined by a small master plan team, studied a 42,600-acre roadless area in the monument for wilderness classification. The group completed the study in ten days, and their preliminary proposal determined that 41,475 acres were suitable for wilderness; after the Washington office reviewed the proposal, it decreased the acreage to 40,800, altering boundaries to conform with survey points rather than natural features. The proposed volcanic wilderness comprised approximately 80 percent of the monument's land base, and 96 percent of the area studied. All of it lay south of U.S. Highway 20-26-93A, excluding the semi-developed zone of roads, trails, and administrative facilities in the monument's northwestern corner. To name the area, Contor chose a Shoshoni term, Tu'Timbaba, or "Black Rock Overpass," referring to the thousand feet the lava landscape rises above adjacent valleys. [62]

    Justifying the reasons for wilderness classification, the superintendent wrote of the area's unique qualities; it offered

    geologic curiosities, archeological structures and sites, a surprisingly rich fauna, and vegetative cover of special importance to science. The setting is fresh and clean. Because access is limited to hikers, and because there are no attractions which lack counterparts in the more accessible parts of the Monument, human use has been scant.

    This was, he recognized, not what people pictured as traditional wilderness; there was "nothing here to attract the mountaineer, a thirty day pack trip party, or a fisherman." Yet Contor believed that the area's "appreciation must rest on other things." It "remains the most interesting and least disturbed segment of the entire Snake River Plain. Those who spend time here will soon feel its lonely and unusual charm." [63]

    Following the wilderness proposal was a public hearing, as required by the Wilderness Act. Held on September 19, 1966 at Arco, Idaho, the meeting itself was rather sedate; fifteen people attended, among them Park Service and conservation group representatives. Five of these individuals gave oral statements, and a total of forty-eight letters were received from private parties, local, state, and federal agencies. In general, everyone favored the agency's wilderness proposal. No one, for instance, objected to the concept of wilderness; like Contor they expressed an affinity for the area's qualities of beauty, science, and isolation. Nor did anyone urge a reduction in the proposed area's size. Rather, those few who did criticize the proposal wanted more land added to the wilderness area. [64]

    Groups such as the Sierra Club, the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, the National Parks Association, the Mountaineers, and the Wilderness Society suggested inward expansion, pressing closure to the developed area of the monument. On the high end of the scale, the National Parks Association proposed four separate wilderness areas south of the highway, totaling 49,800 acres, excluding the headquarters facilities and road corridors. And on the low end of the scale, the Wilderness Society recommended a small boundary adjustment to include the Caves and Natural Bridge. While the different proposals varied on size, they shared a common trait in that they did not contest the planned road extension around Big Cinder Butte. [65]

    In defending its proposal, the Park Service explained that it designed the wilderness boundaries to retain access to the volcanic features along the loop drive, and to provide a half to a mile wide buffer to avoid the "influences from U.S. Highway 20-26-93A and the existing and proposed visitor use areas southeast of the highway." By way of compromise, the agency's August 1967 proposal offered a series of revisions to the original boundaries. On the one hand, reflecting some but not all suggestions, the adjustments added a total of 1,945 acres. These extended the proposed boundary to embrace the Natural Bridge and more portions of the North Crater Lava and Serrate Lava Flows; the Black Lava Flow, Coyote and Crescent Buttes, and additional sections of the Big Crater and Blue Dragon Lava Flows. On the other hand, two deletions of 1,960 acres comprised more acreage than did the additions. One subtracted a small amount, eighty acres, southwest of Inferno Cone; the other removed a large amount to provide a sixteenth of a mile administrative buffer between wilderness and monument boundary. [66]

    The 1967 proposal satisfied most public concerns for including key sites in the monument's internal section, as well as the administrative practicality of drawing boundaries along easily distinguished grid patterns, as opposed to the diagonal shapes of the original recommendation. In total acreage, 40,785, the latest proposal differed little from its earlier version.

    As for other additions, the Park Service denied these for pragmatic as well as development reasons. Most features proposed for wilderness addition, for instance, were located along or near the loop drive and trails, and were among the monument's primary attractions. Here the majority of the monument's 200,000 annual visitors experienced the outstanding geologic features. Thus, to those proposals requesting that areas west of the Natural Bridge and Caves be classified as wilderness, the Park Service stated that anticipated visitor volumes would require "highly developed trails...[the] minimum...sanitary facilities, and interpretive devices," for visitor health and safety as well as the "protection of natural features." Similarly, proposals that singled out Inferno Cone and Big Cinder Butte for wilderness protection were characterized by the Service as small islands, 270 and one thousand acres respectively, within the existing road system and its proposed additions. As "major visitor attractions" they should remain outside wilderness; their small size meant that they could not "offer significant or outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation as would be characteristic of a wilderness." [67]

    In terms of wilderness designation, Big Cinder Butte assumed an important role. Because the monument's visitation and administrative infrastructure were confined to the northwestern corner, the Park Service believed that future growth would need outlets, and as shown in the 1966 master plan, the Service planned to extend the road system around Big Cinder Butte. [68] As Roger Contor noted, his master plan and wilderness proposal omitted the butte for future possibilities; "putting everything in wilderness would tie the hands of future managers. We felt we should leave the option open for some limited expansion of frontcountry facilities." At some point, windshield tourists might enjoy a new perspective on monument landscapes. Excluding Big Cinder Butte from wilderness, then, "gave a little elbow room," and, as Contor asserted, "a modicum of roadside scenery might reduce their [visitors'] passion for self entertainment through vandalism or other unacceptable behavior." More importantly, perhaps, was that he was dealing with "firsts." Better to add than to subtract from wilderness, and refrain from setting a bad Park Service precedent should expansion be necessary. For that matter, it was never certain that the road would be built. [69] Even so, this belief later provided a point of internal contention.

    Legislation for the monument's wilderness commenced the following year. In March 29, 1968, the Department of the Interior submitted draft legislation to the president for the creation of the Craters of the Moon wilderness, and sent the same material to Idaho Senator Frank Church, member of the Senate Interior Committee, seeking his sponsorship. [70] One year later, April 1, 1969, Church introduced the Department of the Interior (NPS) proposal as S. Bill 1732. In his oration to the Senate, Church justified the legislation by describing the monument's astonishing moon-like beauty, a beauty with relevance to the nation. That same year astronauts planned to walk on a similar lunar landscape, and for this reason, wilderness designation was appropriate. And it was all the more imperative since the drawing power of this national event would lure thousands more tourists to the monument and jeopardize its wilderness quality. [71] On June 15, the bill passed the Senate.

    The bill followed a different path in the House. On March 3, 1970, it was introduced and referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, where it died. A month later, Idaho Congressmen Orval Hansen and James McClure introduced two wilderness bills, H.R. 16821, which was the NPS administrative proposal, and H.R. 16822, which called for the addition of more lands including Big Cinder Butte, for a total of 43,243 acres. [72]

    The latter legislation represented the influence of Superintendent Paul Fritz. Fritz, who succeeded Contor in the fall of 1966, disagreed with the accepted master plan and wilderness proposal. In particular, Fritz believed after walking the proposed boundary that the planned road addition encircling Big Cinder Butte was a mistake. [73]

    The main attraction of the new road was the tree molds of Trench Mortar Flat, the only features not accessible by car. While this extension would complete the motorist tour of the monument, preservation of these fragile lava formations outweighed the importance of visitor access. In a December 10, 1966 memorandum Fritz requested a new master plan study to enlarge the wilderness boundary to include Big Cinder Butte and prevent further development. Assistant Director of Cooperative Activities, Theodor R. Swem, rejected the superintendent's proposition. No reason warranted revision of the recent master plan; it had been agreed to at all levels of the administration. And more importantly, "the plan provides a reasonable balance between wilderness and non-wilderness use and it also provides opportunities for increased and improved interpretation of the area." He urged Regional Director John Rutter to bear this in mind in order to "overcome the difficulties" posed by Fritz's suggestion. After learning that his superiors would not entertain any boundary changes, the superintendent reluctantly agreed to the agency's proposal. [74]

    Despite his original agreement, Fritz countered the Service's plans by circumventing administrative channels to win approval of his wilderness proposal. Beginning in 1967, he gained support from local communities and environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society, who had originally expressed their desire to add more lands to the Craters of the Moon wilderness. These interest groups then lobbied the Park Service and congressional representatives, and in Congressmen Hansen and McClure found sponsors for the new proposal. [75]

    The Park Service in spite of Fritz's influence stood behind its original proposal passed by the Senate. Acting Secretary of the Interior Fred J. Russell expressed the Service's position to Congressman Wayne N. Aspinall, chairman House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, in a June 25, 1970 letter. In principle, the Park Service determined that development was necessary to meet the monument's mission and to accommodate rising visitation. The road encircling the butte

    would disperse visitors to relieve congestion on the present road system; such congestion is expected to become critical in future years. Exhibits along the road would interpret such features as tree molds, lava tubes, fissures, ecology and plant succession. Visitors unable to make long hiking trips would have access to all of the major types of volcanic features on this self-guiding interpretive road.

    Hence, wilderness designation for Big Cinder Butte would preclude both this improvement and the presentation of the monument's full array of volcanic phenomena to the motoring public. [76]

    Unfortunate for the Service and fortunate for Fritz and supporters of the Big Cinder Butte addition, the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs concluded in their favor. H.R. 19007, an omnibus wilderness bill introduced on August 13, 1970, provided for an enlarged Craters of the Moon wilderness of 43,243 acres. [77] Commenting on the amended bill in a September 9 report, the committee stated that the addition of "this 2,243 acres of land would make a meaningful contribution to the wilderness area and that it would not unduly interfere with public use and enjoyment of the national monument." [78] The full House passed the bill on September 21, 1970. The Senate concurred with the House in S. 3014 on October 12, and President Richard M. Nixon signed the bill into law on October 23, 1970. [79]

    In the end, the Park Service lost with its proposal, but won by gaining the first wilderness in the System. Compared to the larger parks, the Craters of the Moon proposal lacked high-profile controversy, and buried in a large bill, the discrepancy over two thousand acres lost some of its importance. The new Craters of the Moon Wilderness, as it was called, [80] bore the stamp of Superintendent Paul Fritz, who spoke out against his own agency for the protection of monument resources. Yet the area also owed its existence to individuals, such as Roger Contor, who recognized the volcanic environment's wilderness caliber.

    Wilderness Proposal MapThe 1967 wilderness proposal. The lighter screen-tone represents the Big Cinder Butte addition that was attached to the final bill in 1970.