Recreation: A Developing Dimension of Forest Management
Recreation and tourism in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota are post-World War II growth industries closely related to the national forests and grasslands of the Northern Region. Although long important to local residents for recreation, the national forests of the Northern Region have since World War II become a magnet to hundreds of thousands of visitors, Two of the Nation's best known National Parks, Yellowstone and Glacier, border the national forests of the Northern Region; many visitors to these important scenic and recreation areas prefer the less crowded conditions of the national forest sites and facilities.
Recreation and public use of the national forests once was a largely local and seasonal affair, but the forests of the Northern Region have become a year-round playground for visitors from all parts of the United States, Canada, and abroad. The recreation industry has come to rival forest products and agriculture in annual income for the residents of Montana and the Idaho panhandle, and recreation management and planning have become important elements of multiple-use planning in the region.
From its inception, recreation in the Northern Region has largely been associated with outdoor sports and activities. Hunting and fishing have been the leading recreational activities over the years. However, hiking and mountain climbing, packing (including outfitting and guiding), caving, river floating and rafting, andmore recentlywinter sports, including cross country and downhill skiing and snowmobiling, have attracted thousands of new visitors to Idaho and Montana.
Early Recreational Uses
Foresters were aware of the national forest resources being used for recreation even before the Forest Service and the Northern Region were formed. Supervisor W.E. Jackson, on the Bighorn Forest Reserve, wrote on September 9, 1902, that "...with pleasure seekers, hunters, and outing parties, coming from all sides, and the weather so dry and windy, the Forest Rangers have more than they can do to properly control the people that are on the Reserve...."  During these early years, recreation management was largely incidental to the work of the forester.
Other than the tourists who arrived by train in western Montana and took the stagecoach to Yellowstone or Glacier, and those who visited a few dude ranches developed during the World War I era, it was local residents who used the national forests of Montana and Idaho for recreation. Miners, farmers, and cattle men harvested the game, fish, and wild fruits and vegetation for food as well as for sport. Carol Ryrie Brink, a prominent writer of the legends and lore of the Northwest, and whose father was the first mayor of Moscow, Idaho, recalls spending the summer of 1911 with an aunt and young friends on a woodlands homestead in Latah County, Idaho, "twenty-eight miles by packhorse from the nearest outfitting post." The cabin, a single room with a porch, two windows, two built-in beds, a cookstove, and home-made chairs and tables, stood among "the finest belt of virgin white pine forest."  "Trout were plentiful in these unspoiled streams," said Brink, "and if there were any laws about catching them, we had not heard of them." During August particularly, the forests abounded with mushrooms, huckleberries, thimble berries and wild raspberries and elderberries.  Following World War I, both tourism and local traffic began to increase under the influence of the automobile, Federal and State roadbuilding programs, and the generally greater economic affluence associated with the Roaring Twenties. Dude ranching and packing expanded rapidly during this period, as did applications for summer home permits.
National Conference on Outdoor Recreation
President Calvin Coolidge responded to the growing awareness of recreation as a developing social phenomenon and a major "new" use of the national forests when he called the National Conference on Outdoor Recreation into session on May 22, 1924. Leon Kniepp was given temporary leave from the Forest Service to serve as Executive Secretary for the Conference. He was replaced the next year by Arthur C. Ringland. The Conference initiated recreational planning on all Federal lands and within the national forests, to be preceded by inventories of recreational facilities and resources. The inventories were patterned on the survey experiences already being used on the national forests. Congress (and States) responded to the work of the Conference by approving legislation authorizing States, counties, and municipalities to acquire public lands for parks and recreation. Congress also approved a migratory bird bill, the Woodruff-McNary Bill for new forest-land acquisitions, and the McSweeney-McNary Bill for forest and biological research. The Conference officially dissolved in 1929. 
Depressionand the Civilian Conservation Corps
Although seemingly distant and isolated from Wall Street, the collapse of the stock market in October 1929 soon reverberated through the forests of Montana and Idaho. Unemployment spiraled in the lumber and mining industries, and the people of the Northern Region settled into the grim specter of the Great Depression. Strangely enough, the involuntary leisure forced upon people by the depression drew more rather than fewer visitors to the national forests. Then, the Government-sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs brought unemployed youths to the Northern forests. These youths spent much of their time and energy building recreational facilities for the general public.
The number of recreational visits to the Northern Region grew steadily through the 1930's. In 1936, some 400,000 visitors were recorded, and during the last six months of 1939, the region's 17 national forests hosted 579,400 visitors. Of these, 31 percent came to fish, 16 percent to hunt, 6 percent for winter sports, and the remaining 47 percent for picnicking, swimming, camping, boating, and simple enjoyment of the outdoors. The Deerlodge attracted the largest number of visitors, followed by the Beaverhead, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Kaniksu, Helena, and Coeur d'Alene. Regional Forester Evan Kelley commented that it had become almost impossible to meet the public's demand for campground development, despite the impressive work of the CCC. 
Kelley said that the "contributions of the CCC to public recreation stand out among its greatest works." By 1937, it had constructed more than 1,000 miles of truck trails into the isolated, scenic backcountry of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington (then included in Region 1). Road and trail construction served multiple purposesfire breaks and fire-control access, timber harvest and management access, and recreation and tourist access. Sixteen camp and picnic areas with table and bench fixtures and masonry campstoves were constructed. After the CCC began its work, recreational visits in the area rose by more than 50 percent. 
The Priest Lake-Sullivan Lake District on the Kaniksu received special attention because of its proximity to Spokane, Washington. Three camp and picnic grounds and a recreational road were built along Priest and Sullivan lakes. Between the two lakes lay an "exquisite mountain forest territory." New truck trails in the Coeur d'Alene offered "entrancing 'skyline' drives," while new campgrounds on the Lolo and Nez Perce National Forests allowed access to the Selway-Bitterroot Primitive Area and the Three Devils' country. Surveys indicated that most people wanted to go to the national forests "feeling that they are in natural wilderness, yet with the conveniences of an improved picnicking or camping area at their disposal." The public clearly had an intense and developing interest in national forest recreation opportunities within the region and something of a preoccupation with outdoor sports and wilderness. 
Recreation and Wilderness
Wilderness, or the state of perceived "wildness," has attracted many visitors to the national forests of the Northern Region. Although "wilderness" means different things to different people, for some visitors it denotes the "natural order of things" and a sense of frontier adventure. Thus, many come to the Northwest seeking, as one recent advertisement read: "A western adventure at the edge of wilderness." The Washakie Wilderness and its "wild animals and breathtaking scenery," according to the ad, "will restore the inner calm missing in 'civilization'." 
Although wilderness has come to mean a well-defined forest management area under the terms of the Wilderness Act of September 3, 1964, wilderness was before that time and before the advent of the modern environmental movement, as Aldo Leopold said, a "state of mind." Leopold, who became Acting Supervisor of the Carson National Forest in the Southwestern Region in 1912, urged that portions of the national forests be left in their wild state, with no paved roads or human habitations. Others in the Forest Service, such as Arthur C. Ringland and Ray Marsh (who worked with Leopold in Region 3), with Frank Waugh, Arthur H. Carhart, andprominentlyBob Marshall in the Northern Region, began to recommend preservation of wilderness areas. 
Marshall, who spent his first "field tour" of duty with the Northern Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, was an avid outdoorsman. An intrepid hiker who seldom let a week pass without a hike of at least 40 miles through the backcountry, Marshall became an early proponent of wilderness preservation. In 1935, he used his rather substantial personal wealth, his enthusiasm, and his formidable organizational skills to form the Wilderness Society. Marshall described wilderness as "a region which contains no permanent inhabitants" and possesses no possibility of "conveyance by mechanical means." In wilderness, he said, people must depend exclusively upon their own efforts for survival, and because wilderness preserves the primitive environment, roads, power lines, settlements, and habitations (other than trails and temporary shelters) should be barred from them. 
In a more poetic vein, Marshall described wilderness as "the song of the hermit thrush at twilight and the lapping of waves against the shoreline and the melody of the wind in the trees." It is, he said, "the unique odor of balsams and of freshly turned humus and of mist rising from mountain meadows." It is "the feel of spruce needles under foot, and sunshine on your face and wind blowing through your hair." It is all of these things at once, he said, "that can only be appreciated with leisure." 
On a more pragmatic level, Ralph Space, who spent his very long career in the region, observed in 1988 that wilderness is "a place to go hunt and fish where other people can't go." And Charles (Chuck) H. Raddon, recreation, wilderness, and trails specialist with the Clearwater National Forest, explained that "a wilderness is a step back in time," that provides for a unique and distinctive experience. Wilderness also provides "essential protection for biological diversity, wildlife habitat, high-quality watersheds, and unique scientific and educational purposes." Jim Dolan fondly recalls Aldo Leopold's comment that "I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in." 
Bob Marshall was appointed Chief of the Division of Recreation and Lands in 1937, and for a short time he greatly influenced the direction of wilderness and recreational planning at the Forest Service. In 1939, shortly before his death at the early age of 38, Marshall promulgated Regulations U-1, U-2, and U-3, providing directives for Forest Service management of primitive and wilderness areas. 
The Bob Marshall Wilderness, the first designated wilderness in the Northern Region, was created by the directive of Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace on August 16, 1940. Following the tradition established by designation of the Gila Wilderness in the Southwest Region in 1924, the Marshall Wilderness was created by combining and reclassifying three primitive areas, including the South Fork Primitive Area established in 1934.  In the years before World War II, the Forest Service and Region 1 provided the initiative and the leadership to reserve these portions of the national forest lands as primitive areas and wilderness areas where people might enjoy the woodlands in as close to their natural state as possible.
Norman Maclean, a teacher and author who grew up in Montana, has captured the spirit of the land, a land he described as "beyond civilization..., where the earth and its community of life" are largely untrammeled by man, in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. "We lived," he wrote, "at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman...." They assumed, he said, "that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman." The Big Blackfoot River "became a part of us," he wrote, as did the sky, the mountains, the rivers, and the lakes become a part of those others who experienced the land under the Big Sky. 
Trail Rides and the End of an Era
The American Forestry Association captured a sense of the frontier by sponsoring "Trail Riders of the Wilderness" expeditions into remote areas of the national forests in the Northern Region beginning in 1933. The rides became increasingly popular. In July 1938, the trip on horseback began at the Monture Ranger Station in the Lolo National Forest and led through the South Fork of the Flathead River and over the Continental Divide to Pearl Basin in the Sun River country. In 1941, the trailriders followed much the same route as the original expedition did in 1933 and entered the newly dedicated Bob Marshall Wilderness.  The rides were suspended during World War II, but resumed upon its conclusion. However, as the rides attracted more people, the expeditions were scaled down into smaller, shorter, selected excursions. For some years in the 1960's, the Wilderness Society sponsored similar horseback excursions into wilderness and backcountry areas, but the rides will always be a heritage of the 1930's.
The trail rides, recreational visits, and the region's construction and planning for recreation abruptly ceased with the declaration of war in December 1941. Clarence B. Swim and Victor T. Linthacum, for example, were among those whose primary staff duties were recreational planning and who were reassigned to other duties for the duration of the war. Linthacum became Assistant Supervisor on the Deerlodge. Others left the region for military service. By 1944, most forests were expending little energy and less money on recreation. The Lolo, for example, boasted a $75 annual recreation budget in that year. However, as the war neared an end and recreational use once again began to increase, it became evident that roads, trails, and CCC recreational facilities were "wearing out." 
The Modern Recreation "Movement"
Peace brought a massive regeneration of public interest in and demand for recreation within the national forests. Recreational visits in 1946 exceeded the total of any previous year and rose again in 1947. During the 1947 season, sport fishing increased 30 percent over 1946, with an estimated 281,000 anglers in action. Around 122,000 big-game hunters and 21,000 small-game hunters used the national forests during the fail 1947 hunting season. Under State-established limits, 80 antelope, 1,300 black bear, 46 grizzlies, 11,000 mule deer, 5,000 white-tailed deer, 10,200 elk, 107 moose, 96 mountain goats, and 3 mountain sheep were bagged in that season, 
Overcrowding and Rising Costs
By the end of 1947, camping and recreational areas on the national forests were regularly overcrowded, and maintenance and sanitation had become a "growing problem." Many of the recreational units built by the CCC had "deteriorated beyond repair," and congressional appropriations to the Forest Service as well as the Forest Service's allocation of funds to recreation had failed to keep pace with real needs. Moreover, very real fire hazards and basic operational deficienciesa result of wartime neglectforced Region 1, as most regions, to devote its funds, manpower, and energies to fire protection, restaffing, and basic operations. 
Congress, in fact, advised the Forest Service that recreational use should generate its own revenues to offset the cost of constructing, maintaining, and administering recreational facilities in the national forests. As a result, in 1948 Region 5 (California) experimented with leasing formerly public campgrounds to private individuals (and in one case to Eldorado County). The success of these experiments and the need for revenue to apply to recreational uses produced a Forest Service directive authorizing regions to establish fee-camping areas operated variously by private interests and by the Forest Service. Fees for camping were not to exceed 50 cents per day per car party of six people (and 10 cents for each additional person, with no charge for minors under 12) and 25 to 50 cents per day for picnicking or day use. The forests were required to maintain "many small free camp and picnic areas in addition to areas on which charges are to be collected."  Thus the Forest Service began to depart from the tradition of free public recreation on the national forests.
The revenues from recreational users did help the Forest Service accommodate the public's rising interest in outdoor recreation. In addition to increases in the traditional recreational uses of Region 1 forests, in such activities as fishing, hunting, camping, and summer home development, the region began to experience a surge of interest in more novel recreational uses such as skiing and winter sports, mountain climbing, hiking, and trail riding and packing.
Hiking and Climbing
Mountain climbing and hiking, supported by the region's development of trails, paths, and guidebooks, have become increasingly important elements of outdoor recreation. Although the forested areas of Region 1 lay in the mountainous areas of northern Idaho and western Montana, one particular mountainGranite Peakhas long fascinated the climber.
At 12,842 feet in elevation, Granite Peak is Montana's highest peak, Located in the Beartooth Range on the border of the Gallatin and Custer, near Yellowstone National Park, it is the easternmost of a chain of four gigantic peaks that includes Villard Peak (12,300), Mount Spofford (11,780) and Glacier Peak (12,200). Flanked by perpetual snowfields and glaciers such as Grasshopper, Granite, Skytop, and Hidden Glacier, and surrounded by other rugged Beartooth Range peaks and plateaus, these peaks have long attracted sightseers, hikers, and climbers.
A U.S. Geological Survey party headed by E.M, Douglas first attempted a climb of Granite Peak in September 1889. They followed the main ridge of the south slope to within 200 feet of the summit, where they were stopped by vertical cliffs and foul weather. An attempt in 1894 by a party headed by James P. Kimball (which had succeeded in climbing Mt. Villard, Mt. Wilse, and Mt. Wood, among others) also failed short of the Granite Peak summit. Weather aborted an attempt by a party that included Fred Inabnit of Billings in 1910. Inabnit headed and accompanied numerous climbing expeditions between 1907 and 1923, none of which quite achieved the Granite Peak summit, but he was instrumental in exciting public interest in mountain climbing and in stimulating official Forest Service interest in conquering the Granite Peak. 
The first successful climb of Granite Peak began on August 25, 1923. A party of foresters including Assistant District [Regional] Forester Elers Koch; R.T. Ferguson, Supervisor of the Beartooth National Forest; and J.C. Whitham, Supervisor of the Custer, with Rosebud District Ranger Guy O'Neil and Alvia Shiver, a forest guard, met a group from Billings that included Harold Rixon, W.H. Banfill, George Osten, and Verne Johnson, who with Fred Inabnit were all experienced climbers. The climbers left Rosebud Lake, headed up a trail along Slough Creek and then branched onto a faintly blazed trail along Mt. Fairview that had not been used since 1916. By midafternoon the party reached the timberline, and the next morning they left their horses at a basecamp, moving ahead through Froze-to-Death Pass to the rim of the upper Rosebud Plateau to Mount Tempest. The climbers reached Avalanche Lake after a laborious hike and made camp while Koch, Whitham, and O'Neil reconnoitered the ascent to Granite Peak. 
The climbers agreed to divide into two parties for the ascent the next day. The first, which included Koch, Ferguson, and Whitham, was to approach from the northeast ridge, while Inabnit, O'Neil, and the others climbed the southwestern slope. Whitham's brief narrative of the arduous climb ("up they toiled, foot by foot") which brought him, Koch, and Ferguson to the top at 11:10 a.m. on August 29, 1923, conveys the intensity, excitement, and achievement of this first successful climb. 
Once the feat had been accomplished, other climbers followed. The challenge and excitement of Granite Peak attracted growing numbers of adventurers and widespread public interest in the post-World War II decades.
In August 1953, George D. Forney and L.B. Beckham of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Vern W. Waples of the Montana Fish and Game Department reached the top, and 2 years later, Region 1 foresters Thad Lowary, James R. Stephenson, and Edward Slusher reached the summit. Slusher later prepared a description of a "passable route" to the top of Granite Peak that others could follow. And they did. A Billings Climbing Club expedition in 1962 left a "registration capsule" on the peak; the next year Thad Lowary, the Regional Budget Officer, organized a climb that included Shirley and Sam Braxton and Gardiner Miller of the Rocky Mountaineers Climbing Club; Don Gordon, an experienced climber from Seattle; and foresters Hank Rate and Bob Van Giesen of the Custer. Arriving about noon on August 4, 1963, the party (including Shirley Braxton as the first woman to reach the top) left a permanent registration box on the peak. 
On the lower elevations, hikers began to flock in greater numbers to the pathways and trails, and the Forest Service and the region responded by developing historic and scenic trails. Those trails have become a major recreational attraction of the Northern Region and are reviewed in the following chapter.
In the 1950's, while some were climbing the highest mountains, a few intrepid adventurers began to explore below those mountains, entering some of the numerous, mostly unexplored caverns that were known to exist, as well as some that they discovered. There was, however, relatively little systematic approach to such exploration, and no discernible effort either to publicize or to capitalize on such discoveries by making the caverns tourist attractions. Most were inaccessible or difficult for the general public to reach.
Although caves were known to local residents in the early years, spelunking as a form of recreation was virtually nonexistent. One cave, known as the Morrison Cave, located east of Whitehall, Montana, and named for the cowboy who discovered it while searching for stray cows, was opened on a fee basis by the owners of the land in the 1920's and 1930's. 
During the Great Depression, the State of Montana, using CCC labor and equipment, helped develop Morrison Cave by improving lighting, building steps and stairways, and enlarging the access. A tramway (which was replaced with a roadway after World War II) was built to move visitors to the entrance, and shortly before the war the cave was officially dedicated as the Lewis and Clark Caverns in memory of the explorers who traveled the nearby Jefferson River. Although the caverns are not on national forest lands, the adjacent Deerlodge and Beaverhead National Forests provide a scenic backdrop and recreational areas for visitors. 
In response to an official inquiry by the National Speleological Society in 1950, the forests in Region 1 reported, insofar as was then known, the existence and status of the caverns within the forests. The Custer National Forest reported the largest number of caves, most of which had been damaged in some way, some of which had never been explored, and most of which were very difficult to reach. The caves listed by the Custer included Mystic Cave, Little Ice Cave, Bear Canyon Cave, Hole in the Wall Cave, and Blackie Ice Cave. The Helena National Forest reported only the Ophir cave, which contained a large number of massive chambers. The Deerlodge reported only that five or six caves were "rumored" to exist, but none had been precisely located, explored, or improved. Limestone Cave on the Flathead National Forest was reasonably accessible and not dangerous, but contained no crystals, stalagmites, or stalactites. The Lewis and Clark caves were all located in Fergus County and included Ice Cave, Lime Cave, Devil Chute Cave, and Bottomless Pit Cave.  By the lack of mention in official memoranda, newspapers, and recreational brochures, caving seems to have been a minor recreational activity.
Recently, according to Jim Dolan in the Regional Office's Division of Recreation, Wilderness, and Lands, a resurging interest in caving has led the region to conduct a new inventory of caves. According to Dolan, the Bob Marshall Wilderness contains some of the deepest cave complexes in the United States. Dennis Gordon, with the Sula Ranger Station on the Bitterroot National Forest, has been assembling the data. Explorations also have been underway on cavern systems near Silvertip Mountains in the Scapegoat Wilderness.  Still, it must be said that the caverns of Region 1 are a known but largely undeveloped tourist and recreation resource.
Winter sports are for the most part a post-World War II phenomenon in the Northern Region. While established activities such as hunting and fishing soared after the war, there was relatively little precedent for the sharp increase in winter sports in the region. Eric White, who moved to Montana with his family in 1915 and after service in the Army during World War I began a Forest Service career that spanned 36 years in Region 1, recalled that skiing was more of a diversion than a source of recreation in the 1920's and 1930's. He and a few other foresters occasionally used skis in preference to snowshoes. Skis, which could not be purchased in the stores, had to be crafted by local artisans. White said that the most important item of apparel for skiing was a good pair of wool underwear. The wooden skis were waxed with a formula obtained from a Finlander who worked on the Elkhorn Ranch, he said, and some people tacked the hide (hair side out) of an elk's leg to the bottom of the ski. The hair would smooth out for gliding or stand back when kicking and turning. 
The lack of modern equipment undoubtedly discouraged the development of skiing as a popular pastime. However, after the war, veterans trained in winter skiing took to the slopes as a form of recreation, and the introduction of plastics and vinyls began to revolutionize the industry.
At this time, the region also began to take a serious interest in snow conditions, both for recreational purposes and watershed measurements. Regular snow measurements and fixed snow, measurement sites were established in the early 1930's. These sometimes amounted to little more than blazes or markers, and later standing measuring rods located at specific points. Snow surveyors measured snow depths, calculated water content, and recorded observations about wildlife and vegetation. Walter S. Peterson, for example, remembers making the first snow measurements east of Strawberry Mountain, in the Swan Range on the Flathead National Forest, in 1945 or 1946. He and Clyde Scovel experienced many misadventures snowshoeing through the forests on the arduous winter snow course, where measurements of 30 feet were sometimes made and 11- to 16-foot winter snows were standard. 
Now, snowmobiles and even helicopters have replaced the arduous and often dangerous winter trek on skis and snowshoes. In addition to their watershed implications, snow measurements contribute to winter recreation planning and use.
Bob Harmon in the Division of Recreation and Lands announced a 162-percent increase in the number of skiers visiting the Region 1 national forests in the 1947-48 season. Counts indicated that 11,800 individual skiers made 92,000 visits, and that another 58,000 visits were made to adjoining privately owned lands. Major ski areas, many of which had been recently equipped with simple lifts and facilities, included Big Mountain (Whitefish); Silver Lake (Anaconda); Willow Creek (Red Lodge); Lookout Pass (Mullan); Kings Hill (Great Falls); Gibbons Pass (Darby); West Yellowstone, Libby, and Elkhorn Springs (Libby); North and South (St. Manes, Idaho); and Chewelah Hill (Chewelah, Washington). The Lionhead Ski Lift on West Yellowstone Mountain began operating in 1946, was permitted by the Forest Service in 1948, and operated successfully until 1961." 
The surge of interest in winter sports cooled somewhat with the outbreak of war in Korea and possibly because of the development of modern lifts and ski areas in Colorado and New Mexico in the early 1950's. However, as the 1960's approached, new ski "bowls" in Region 1 began to attract more and more visitors.
In 1962-63, some 152,000 skier visits were recorded in the region. This number rose to 306,000 five years later and was approaching 350,000 by the end of the decade. Bridger Bowl, near Bozeman on the Gallatin National Forest, and Big Mountain, near Whitefish, Montana, on the Flathead National Forest, each reported about 72,000 skier visitors in the 1968-69 season. Red Lodge, on the Custer, had 30,000 visitors; and Snow Bowl on the Lolo, 29,000 skiers; Schweitzer Basin on the Kaniksu, 50,000 skiers; and Kings Hill on the Lewis and Clark, 34,900 ski visitors. Areas such as Lost Trail Pass on the Bitterroot, Grassy Mountain at Helena, Corona Lake on the Lolo, Wraith Hill on the Deer lodge, and Teton Pass on the Lewis and Clark attracted substantially smaller numbers. 
The ski and tourism industry received a boost in 1969, when native Montanan Chet Huntley, of NBC News fame (with a group of investors including Conoco, Chrysler, Burlington Northern, Montana Power, and Northwest Orient Airlines), acquired the Crail Ranch to develop the "Big Sky" resort, complete with ski lifts for winter and golf courses for summer, At a meeting of the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Area Operator's Association, Huntley invited and received resolutions supporting the development of the Big Sky resort. That meeting was attended by a veritable "who's who" of winter sports in the region, including Edward Schenk, then president of the Association and general manager of Big Mountain Ski Resort; Robert Brandenburger, the regional ski area planner for the Forest Service; Leroy Schultz, the regional ski lift engineer for the Forest Service; V.J. Gamroth, manager of Rainy Mountain Ski Area in Dillon; James Thompson, general manager of Kings Hill Ski Resort in Nyehart, Montana; Loyal Koessler, manager of Red Lodge Mountain Resort; Emile Cochand, manager of Bridger Bowl Ski Resort; Richard McCracken, president of the Northern Division of the U.S. Ski Association; and Sam Wormington of Schweitzer Basin Ski Complex in Sand Point, Idaho. Brandenburger believed that the ski area operators and the Forest Service had a good working relationship. The Forest Service, he said, was recognized "as having expertise in recreation planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and related fields to give assistance to the industry." 
Some years later, in March 1974, only a few days after Chet Huntley's death, the Big Sky resort opened. For winter enthusiasts, it sported a four-passenger, French-constructed gondola that carried 1,200 skiers an hour some 1,500 feet up the mountain. In 1976, Boyne USA, operator of ski and golf resorts in Michigan, acquired the Big Sky resort, and has continued to operate it. Another lift, installed in 1984, moves 600 passengers per hour.  Big Sky was in many ways a cooperative effort by the Forest Service, the State of Montana, and private industry. It has become a centerpiece for winter sports and regional tourism.
Although less publicized and less commercialized, cross-country skiing is one of the region's fastest growing winter sports. The sport provides winter uses for the expanding system of hiking trails in the national forests, as does snowmobiling, Using surplus military "snowmobiles" introduced after World War II, an entire new winter sports industry was founded upon these machines. Clubs have been organized, and competitive events are staged at "runs" on and adjacent to national forest lands. Snowmobiling also is a popular family sport. West Yellowstone, Montana, located on the Gallatin National Forest and adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, calls itself the "Snowmobile Capital of the World." 
In response to the growing awareness that recreation and tourism were achieving, Region 1 offices provide "Recreation Opportunity Guides" for visitors. The Wisdom Ranger District on the Beaverhead National Forest, for example, issued such a guide, which included descriptions of downhill ski trails (Saddle Mountain, Anderson Mountain Road, and others), ski touring trails, and snowmobile trails and described boating, camping, and fishing opportunities as well as hiking and autotouring trails.  The region now boasts excellent informational brochures on every aspect recreational uses of the national forests.
The reality was, as Arnold Hanson, Assistant Chief of the Division of Information and Education, explained to a travel clinic sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Travel Association and the Montana State Advertising Department in Great Falls in 1967, that "tourism in Montana is big business and getting bigger, and much of it is related, in one way or another, to national forest outdoor recreation opportunities." Recreational visits to the 10 national forests in Montana, he said, increased from less than one-half million in 1946 to almost 7 million in 1965. Where most recreational visitors before World War II were local folks "out for a day of hunting or fishing," or a small number of out-of-state visitors "who camped out in the brush," all of whom, he said, had "very little purchasing power," the new recreation mostly came from outside the region. 
What was happening in the Northern Region was, of course, a reflection of trends throughout the country. A 250-percent increase in recreational use of the national forests between 1946 and 1955 alerted the Forest Service to the new situation. In Region 1, the number of recreation visits had risen from 288,598 in 1926, to 428,380 in 1936, and to 754,898 in 1946 before soaring to over 2 million by 1956. Edward P. Cliff, then Assistant Chief of the Forest Service, announced the initiation of a USDA 5-year National Forest recreation program, Part I of "Operation Outdoors," in January 1957. Operation Outdoors was intended, he said, to provide recreational opportunities such as camping, picnicking, swimming, skiing, hiking, hunting, wilderness travel, mountain climbing, and fishing throughout the national forests. The Forest Service, Cliff said, intended to keep its facilities "simple and appropriate to the environment" and would not conduct tours, give lectures, or sponsor organized sports activities. In part, the new program recognized that the major recreational facilities in the national forests, built by the CCC, were now over 20 years old and inadequate for the demands being placed on them. Unfortunately, congressional budget allocations for Operation Outdoors invariably fell short of the requests and needs.  Nevertheless, both within Region 1 and nationally the Forest Service was beginning to respond to the new demands for recreation being put on the forests.
The new visitors, Hanson continued, "are seeking outdoor recreation with all the comforts of home. They want to 'rough it' in comfort." He sensed that fewer visitors place a premium on solitude and roughing it than once was the case. These visitors prefer to headquarter in local communities, take day trips into the forests, and return each evening "for a hot shower and a comfortable bed." Others head for a resort, such as a dude ranch, ski lodge, or the headquarters of an outfitter and guide. From these secure bases they "journey into the wilderness" and other portions of the national forests for fishing and hunting trips, skiing opportunities, boat trips, and similar adventures. 
Although the region received its first funding for Operation Outdoors on July 1, 1957, funding was never equal to the needs of the program, "especially in personnel to do the job." Under the program, each forest developed a recreation plan, the first of its kind. Most plans, however, severely underestimated the growth in visitation to the Northern Region, a growth occasioned, in part, by the completion of the new interstate highways (I-15, I-90, and I-94), which provided much easier access to the national forests. Improved aircraft and airports also changed the visitation patterns in the region. Visitors began to come from everywhere, and they came in greater numbers. The recreation plans, however, proved useful in later multiple-use planning. 
One of the problems that began to develop as a result of the greater use of lakes and streams in the region was that access to choice recreation sites was being limited by earlier programs permitting summer homes on lake and stream banks. The region began to open access to choice recreation areas by curtailing summer home permits and where possible revoking, not renewing, or purchasing existing rights. Following the initiation of Operation Outdoors, Congress initiated a study by the National Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission of outdoor recreation resources administered by the various branches of Government.  Thus, while much more would be needed to serve the burgeoning public demands for recreational resources in the national forests of Region 1, by the close of the 1960's a positive new beginning had been made.
Packing (Outfitting and Guiding)
Old traditions, wilderness, and at least some modern camping comforts combined to make the outfitter and guide industry a major recreational attraction in the region after World War II. The "outfitter" as defined by State law is a person who, for compensation or other gain, "provides any saddle or pack animal or animals, for any person or persons to hunt, trap, capture, take, or kill any game animal or game bird, or to catch any of the fish of the state."  Although outfitting and guiding in recent decades most often relate to sightseeing, touring, or adventuring rather than hunting and fishing; hunting, fishing, and packing reflect the older; traditional "way of life" in the region. The new commercial outfitters have institutionalized those traditions and made them available to recreational visitors. As one outfitter stated in 1957:
The Forest Service undoubtedly provided some of the inspiration for the trail rides and outfitting expeditions into the wilderness. The American Forestry Association's Trail Rider Expeditions, mentioned earlier, popularized the idea. For example, the sixth annual expedition departed from the Monture Ranger Station on the Lolo National Forest and, taking to "boots and saddles and by way of forest trails soon leaves civilization behind." The ride included a crossing of the Continental Divide into the Sun River country, a visit to the natural fortress known as the Chinese Wall, a call at the lookout on Pagoda Peak, and a ride across the rugged Swan Range down to Holland Lake. The last ride before the outbreak of World War II retraced the route of the first ride in 1933 (and much of the 1938 route) through the trails of the Bob Marshall Wilderness to Big Salmon and Holland Lakes.  Such rides attracted national publicity, and the colorful "packing" tradition preserved at the Remount Depot helped promote interest in wilderness excursions.
After the war, "outfitting" began in earnest as Americans obtained the leisure and the money to visit the backcountry. The region began to use a "Packers Occupancy and Grazing Permit" to give outfitters a special access to certain forest or wilderness areas. Most of the commercial packers and outfitters in the region were members of one of three associations recognized under Regulation A-9, and working relationships with these organizations were good. Both the Forest Service and the outfitters cooperated in developing desiredand properpolicies and practices. In Idaho, outfitters are given exclusive areas and operate under State licenses in areas permitted by the Forest Service. Montana allows overlapping areas under Forest Service permits. 
Many private parties also maintain saddle and pack stock and enjoy recreational expeditions into the national forests and wilderness areas. As these private excursions have increased, conflicts with professional outfitting expeditions have developed. Consequently, the region has begun to regulate both private and commercial "outfitting" uses of the forests more strenuously. "People can mix in the wilderness, but pack and saddle stock of different outfits cannot." 
Illegal outfitters, or "outlaws," who are not licensed by the State or permitted by the Forest Service are discouraged by the industry, as well as by State and Federal authorities. However, the Forest Service discovered that the greater difficulty usually derived from private, noncommercial packing groups, "many of whom have haywire outfits," who just camped anywhere and left unsightly and unsanitary camps. 
Forest Service rules and restrictions governing outfitter use of wilderness areas have become stronger, for the protection of the wilderness and the user. Commercial outfitters, whose business has burgeoned in recent years, initially resisted these restrictions, but a mutually acceptable policy implemented in 1987 has enabled the commercial outfitters to tolerate more restraints while the Forest Service and State authorities have not only discouraged, but have actively pursued, illegal outfitters. 
The problem, of course, involves more than outfitting; it relates to widening public use of wilderness areas. Aldo Leopold, who pioneered in wilderness designation in the Southwestern Region in the 1920's, observed that "the day is almost upon us when a pack train must wind its way up a graveled highway and turn out its bell mare in the pasture of a summer hotel. When that day comes," he said, "the pack train will be dead. And the diamond hitch will be merely a rope and Kit Carson and Jim Bridger will only be names in a history lesson."  Although wilderness and the outfitter may have helped satisfy the desire for adventure, there was (and is) a conflict in the desire to extend wilderness recreational opportunities to as many people as possible if those opportunities involve diminishing the character of the wilderness.
Wilderness Carrying Capacity
Technical studies are attempting to resolve the difficult problem brought on by the basic conflict between establishing and preserving "wilderness" and facilitating the "use" of wilderness. For example, a 1979 study of the recreation carrying capacity of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, affecting the Bitterroot, Clearwater, Lolo, and Nez Perce National Forests, observed that in 1975, 15,600 visitor-use days were reported in the rugged 64,000-acre Absoraka Primitive Area, while that same year the Desolation Wilderness in California, approximately the same size as the Absoraka Primitive Area, recorded 256,100 visitor-use days. "Is the Desolation Wilderness being overused? Or, is the Absoraka Primitive Area being under utilized? These questions address the perplexing problem of wilderness carrying capacity." 
The study pursued the problem with the understanding that "each set of wilderness conditions and experiences that are sought as management objectives implicitly carry with them some limit in the kinds and amounts of recreation use that can be tolerated."  Based on studies at the Intermountain Research Station, the Forest Service has more recently adopted a different approach to evaluating "impact" and carrying capacity through the concept of Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC). Under LAC, a more measurable determination of carrying capacity is realistically the "wear" that may become apparent through use. Even assuming that a reasonably accurate determination of carrying capacity can be established, the problem of developing policies and actions ensuring that the limits of tolerance are not exceeded is difficult. Moreover, evidence that limits of tolerance have been surpassed may appear only long after the event, perhaps years or decades. Thus, wilderness is not an easy resource to use or to manage. Acknowledgment of that condition is probably the first step in effective management.
The Whitewater Management Plan for the Selway River provides a good example of the objectives and techniques of managing forest resources for recreational purposes. The Selway River, in Idaho, includes a 47-mile whitewater stretch between Paradise and Selway Falls. It is the only river in the Nation to receive instant inclusion as a Wild and Scenic River under the authority of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of October 2, 1968. The Selway offers the opportunity for "outstanding solitude while traveling through a canyon of remarkable natural beauty and challenging whitewater rapids."  Once a party enters the river at Paradise there is no return, and they are wholly dependent upon their own resources.
But wilderness, or "wild and scenic" designation in itself generates public interest, popularity, and use. Publicity, curiosity, and the very real combination of wildlife, fish, scenic views, and white-water challenge have drawn a considerable influx of recreationists to the river. The Selway River Whitewater Management Plan (1976), for example, began with the observation that:
Rafting and White Water Adventures
Many forest and wilderness travelers today take advantage of professional guide services who provide raft, canoe, or kayak expeditions on the region's many scenic rivers and waterways. The Flathead River in Montana and the Salmon River in Idaho, as well as the Selway and many other rivers and waterways that pass through or adjacent to the national forests, are major recreation thoroughfares. Professional guide services provide both fishing and adventure outings for visitors. The services are licensed for the protection of the guide services and their visitors, and access to the waterways is supervised, both as a way to protect the resources and as an essential mechanism for responding to emergencies that might occur on the sometimes dangerous waterways.
River rafting has become an important business for commercial outfitters on the Selway and in the region at large. Under the premise that a wild river and the wilderness it passes through are fragile works of nature, regulations affecting the use of the Selway River seek to prevent the imprint of people in its environs. Access to the Selway is limited to four commercial outfitters each year, each of whom may make four launches with not more than 16 people in a party. Reservations for commercial and personal trips must be made in writing, and approval is set only for preestablished launch dates. Unsuccessful applicants are placed on a waiting list on the basis "of a randomized sequential list of names from the computerized program." 
Policies that seek to preserve the pristine, natural (nonhuman) environment of the wilderness include the provision that a party member may make only one float trip, that all unburnable and discarded materials must be packed out, and that no soaps or detergents may be used. Human wastes must be buried at least 100 feet above the high water mark and toilet paper burned; dish water, food drainings, and wet garbage must be buried; and camp sites must be left such that the only evidence of occupation is at most a footprint in the sand.  Indicative of both concern by the public and the "methodology" of modern management techniques is the fact that the development of the Selway River whitewater management plan involved extensive technical study and consultation with about 100 persons involved in recreationguest ranch operators, commercial and private floaters, State regulatory authorities, a Sierra Club representative, attorneys, and in-service specialists.  Recreation management plans for the Salmon, Flathead, and other major waterways of the region incorporate many of the features of the Selway plan, plus other features such as regularly scheduled use surveys and wildlife, fish, and biological studies.
Recreation and Forest Management
The Kootenai National Forest multiple-use plan (1972) appropriately observed that "harmonious land management of the Kootenai's resources is like a complex symphony which recognizes the land capabilities and constraints in the satisfaction of man's needs." Land management planning recognizes and is "responsive to the changing needs of people at the local, regional and national level. It must stand the test of time as to how well it serves the continuing public need." Thus, "popular consensus" and "vocal minorities" are part of the planning process, but are not the process; the final decisionmaking is the responsibility of the Forest Service. 
Completion of the Libby Dam and the opening of 92-mile-long Lake Koocanusa in the early 1970's created new recreational demands on the Kootenai, which previously had little outside visitation. Only since World War II have the northernmost national forests in Region 1, including the Kootenai, the Flathead, and the Idaho Panhandle, become both accessible and attractive as year-round recreation areas. Camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, and floating attract ever-larger numbers of recreationists into northern Idaho. Winter sports, including skiing, snowmobiling, and now camping and hunting, are extending the recreational calendar. Off-season use of cabins and fire lookouts owned by the Forest Service has been encouraged by the region, which makes unused facilities (usually rustic and primitive) available to the general public for nominal fees and a permit. Since World War II, water sports, often facilitated by the development of new dams and reservoirs, are attracting new visitors, some of whom are becoming permanent residents.
Southwest of Lake Koocanusa, which is on the Kootenai River, and on the upper reaches of the Clark River, Thompson Falls and the Noxon Rapids Dam and Reservoir provide lake-centered recreational opportunities for visitors. West of Lake Koocanusa, in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, are Pend Oreille and Priest Lake which, with Coeur d'Alene Lake to the south, offer water recreation opportunities for the almost 400,000 residents of Spokane, Washington, and the surrounding region. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has only recently become the tourist center of the northern reaches of the inland empire. Idaho Panhandle forester Clyde Blake suggests that tourism is now the growth industry of the Idaho panhandle. In 1987, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest recorded a 20-percent increase in tourism. Perhaps indicative of the changing uses of the national forest resources, Potlatch Lumber Company, which operated a massive sawmill on the banks of Pend Oreille, within what is now the city limits of Coeur d'Alene, has closed the mill and turned its properties over to developers. The development of tourism and recreational uses of forest resources has necessitated new community-forest liaisons, partly achieved through cooperation with State and local committees and agencies such as the Idaho Trails Council, the North Idaho Travel Committee, the (tri-county) Natural Resource Committee, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, and the National Wildlife Federation. 
The individual forests in the region are central to coordination and planning for tourism and recreation in the Idaho panhandle and in western Montana. A major portion of the land and the recreational resources are owned by the Federal Government and managed by the Forest Service. As was true of the timber industry, the recreation industry in the region is inextricably associated with the management policies of the Forest Service.
Significantly for the Idaho Panhandle and the other forests of the region, expansion of developed and dispersed recreational opportunities is a major management objective.  The growth of recreational visits and tourism tends to disproportionately affect the national forests. For example, the Beaverhead National Forest visitor information brochure, distributed in the 1980's, notes that:
But as the number of visitors has increased, private landowners, "who have traditionally accommodated the recreation public," have closed their lands to such use, thus sharply increasing demand on public lands. 
The Northern Region has some of the most spectacular lakes, waterways, mountains, and scenic wonders of all the nation's forested lands. It is a veritable last frontier for wilderness and for hunting and fishing. Its scenic trails, including the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, the North Country National Scenic Trail, and the Continental Divide Scenic Trail, are among the most spectacular and historic, and the national forests of the region encompass or are contiguous to such outstanding national monuments and parks as the Custer Battlefield, Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. In the past, recreation has distinctly been peripheral or secondary to forest resource management, but indications are that recreation management and planning are to be major concerns of the region in future decades.
1. W.E. Jackson, Bighorn Forest Reserve, September 9, 1902, cited in Bob Milodragovich, Northern Region Retirees History Review Committee, to Henry C. Dethloff, September 8, 1989, Intaglio Collection, University of Montana Archives, Missoula, MT.
4. Arthur C. Ringland: Conserving Human and Natural Resources,an interview, University of California Regional Oral History Office, Berkeley, 1970, pp. 139-164; Proceedings and Reports of the National Conference on Outdoor Recreation: 1924, Senate Doc. 151, 68th Cong., 1st Sess.; and Second Proceedings, January 20 and 21, 1926, Senate Doc. 117, 69th Cong., 1st Sess.
21. William H. Banfill, Fred Inabnit, Mountaineer: A Tribute (n.d., n.p.), [21 pp.], in historical files, Custer National Forest, J.C. Whitham [Forest Supervisor, Custer National Forest], "Planting Old Glory on the Roof of Montana," unpublished memorandum, 12 pp., in historical files, Custer National Forest
32. Robert O. Brandenburger to William A. Worf, April 8, 1970 (with attachments), Federal Records Center, Seattle, WA, 77-0058, Box 1; Big Sky Resort (brochure) undated, Intaglio Collection, University of Montana Archives.
33. Robert O. Brandenburger to William A. Worf, Chief of Recreation and Lands, April 8, 1970, re: Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Area Operator's Association Spring Meeting, Federal Records Center, Seattle, WA, Box I, 77-0058.
38. Edward P. Cliff, "Programs for Recreation and Wildlife on National Forests," Federal Records Center, Laguna Niguel, CA, 095-72B 1910; Operation Outdoors (Washington, D.C.: USDA Forest Service, 1957), pp. 1-4.
49. William A. Worf, "Cultural values in the Wilderness: The Wilderness Perspective," Archaeological Report No. 7, USDA Forest Service, Southwestern Region, Albuquerque, NM, in archaeological files, Nez Perce National Forest, Grangeville, ID, pp. 22-29.