Elk Summit roadless area

The Elk Summit roadless area was once part of the Selway-Bitterroot Primitive Area. When the area was reclassified by Forest Service administrative fiat back in 1963 (just prior to the passage of the Wilderness Act), the Forest Service ripped huge chunks out of the Primitive area. Elk Summit was one of these. The Service thought these would be better opened for logging. The Walton Lakes area in Elk Summit was one such place.


Walton Lakes, not logged yet!
© Craig Gerhke.

The sorry reclassification of the Selway-Bitterroot Primitive Area in 1963 was one of the factors behind the public outrage that led to the passage of the Wilderness Act a year later. Nevertheless, Congress never restored these areas to the new congressionally-protected Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness. Folks have been trying to get Elk Summit added back to the Selway/Bitterroot, which it adjoins, ever since. Meanwhile the roadless area is being nibbled away by logging as the photo below of roads and logging on incredibly steep slopes shows.

Logging on steep slope above White Sand Creek


Logging above White Sand Creek (a major tributary of the Lochsa River). © John Osborn

Elk Summit has the densest population of moose in central Idaho. If the grizzly bear is ever reintroduced to central Idaho, Elk Summit would likely be prime habitat. In the meantime, the area continues to be threatened by money-losing Forest Service timber sales, It was hoped that President Clinton's roadless area rule would hold logging at bay, but the Bush Administration undid the roadless rule.


A portion of White Sand Creek that is still in its pristine condition. © John McCarthy

Photo looking over the canyon of White Sand Creek upstream from the Elk Summit Roadless area (inside the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness). © George Wuerthner.Above White Sand Creek

White Sand Creek, Idaho
White Sand Creek. © Friends of the Clearwater

Feb. 12, 2006/  Email Ralph Maughan / Elk Summit Roadless Area/ text by Ralph Maughan