Preparing to live and breathe wilderness in Idaho: Can the next generation hack it?

Talking to six young people training to work all summer in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness reaffirmed my belief in the next generation of wilderness leaders.

We met at the appropriately named Wilderness Gateway campground, at the edge of the Selway-Bitterroot in northern Idaho. We talked about wilderness history, management, designations, philosophy and The Wilderness Society roles – especially in creation of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Encouraging and educating these young folks brought me full circle. At age 26 I went to work in the Selway-Bitterroot and spent most of two years learning wilderness skills, working trail crew. I know from experience — the mental, physical and personal challenge of being in and working for wilderness is a life changing experience.

These college students and graduates from six different states are sponsored by the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation and will be introduced to all parts of wilderness management for wilderness rangers. They will spend three to five months living and breathing wilderness, working to protect and continue the legacy.

From the looks in their eyes, I could see, they are ready for the challenge.

photo: Young wilderness leaders in Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. From left to right: Angie Meyer, Paula Randler, Eric Melson Miles Babb, Mariah Ostheller, Selway-Bitterroot Foundation Wilderness Project Leader Connie Saylor-Johnson, SBF Executive Director Rob Mason, Heather Baltes, and Wilderness Society Idaho Forest Campaign Director John McCarthy. Courtesy John McCarthy.