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Recent op-eds in the paper regarding Wilderness Study Areas have been deceitful and embrace emotional rhetoric. To claim that these areas will be “stripped of protection” is totally inaccurate. The WSA lands will still be protected by their Inventoried Roadless status. Implications that removing the WSA designation will block Montanan’s from “having a say” in their management is also inaccurate. In fact, it would open up discussion on how the areas should be managed through the forest planning process. The WSA areas were never recommended for wilderness designation. In fact, these areas were supposed to be removed from WSA seven years after their designation in 1976.

I too have stood on ridges, watched birds and wildlife and enjoyed the solitude of the forests. The difference is that I often arrived there on my mountain bike or ATV. Allowing these wheeled vehicles onto forest lands does not mean that the areas will be desecrated.

Removing these areas would also improve forest management of some of the very unhealthy timber stands. These areas should provide multiple use to all Montanans, not just those who are healthy enough to hike, back pack or own horses.

Frank LaLiberty

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