Mt. Naomi roadless area, Idaho
Proposed addition to the Mt. Naomi wilderness of northern Utah


Autumn colors on the Cub River. The Cub River is the northern boundary
of the Mt. Naomi roadless area

Copyright: Ralph Maughan. Sept. 2003

The Utah Wilderness Act, passed back in 1980s to "settle the wilderness controversy" on the national forests of Utah, was certainly a meager measure, but it did designate a wilderness area on both sides of pastoral Cache Valley -- the Wellsville Mountain Wilderness on the west and the Mt. Naomi Wilderness on the east side. More specifically, the Mt. Naomi Wilderness included that portion of the Bear River mountain range from Green Canyon on the south (just east of North Logan, Utah), northward to the Idaho state line. 

However, the roadless area does not stop at the state line. It continues northward into Idaho. Idaho and Utah conservationists have long advocated adding most of the Idaho portion of the roadless area to make a complete bi-state "Mt. Naomi Wilderness." The Caribou National Forest, which manages the Idaho portion, never much of an advocate for wilderness protection, has recommended to Congress that about 2/3 of the Idaho area be designated as an addition to the existing Mt. Naomi Wilderness. The Idaho portion of the greater wilderness/ roadless area totals 28,000 acres. A big hunk of the gentle east side of the area was hacked out under the auspices of the Caribou National Forest in the 1996 Franklin Basin timber sale.

There seems to be little controversy in general about the wilderness designation except from the machine riders and traditional anti-wilderness folks. The area is closed to them, but increasing numbers of illegal snowmobiles use the area to get to Franklin Basin behind (east of) the roadless area.

The Mt. Naomi roadless area in Idaho is a high ridge that rises just a thousand feet above Franklin Basin to its east, but 4000 feet above the floor of Cache Valley on its west.

Deep Creek Canyon. Mt. Naomi roadless area, Idaho. Sept. 2003.
  Copyright © Ralph Maughan

 Mt. Naomi roadless area above Franklin, Idaho. Telephoto
Copyright Ralph Maughan 2003

Brilliant mountain maple in autumn. Deep Creek. Mt. Naomi roadless area
Sept. 2003. Copyright Ralph Maughan

The area is notable as one of the most northerly examples of mountain maple in the Rocky Mountains. The Franklin Basin area just behind (east) the roadless area is scenic if you don't look closely at the ground because it is increasingly degraded by uncontrolled grazing of domestic sheep, to which the Forest Service seems to have turned a blind eye. Franklin Basin also has roads and increasing numbers of ATV scars.

Mt. Naomi roadless area, Idaho/ email Ralph Maughan / Oct. 24, 2005