The Salmo-Priest Wilderness and roadless area

Three thousand-year-old western red cedar trees in an inland rain forest, rising to glaciated peaks -- that is the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in the state of Washington.

For many years there has been strong support for protecting this remote corner on the wet western slope of the American Selkirk Mountains. Congress finally designated the 39,976 Salmo-Priest Wilderness in extreme northeast Washington. There has been strong support for adding some, or all, of the remaining 20,000 acres of the roadless area that lie in Idaho, but Idaho's relentlessly brown congressional delegation has taken no action. Meanwhile, the Forest Service as managing the Priest River drainage as through it were designated Wilderness, and will do so until political winds change.

Gypsy Ridge in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness. © Ralph Maughan 2000
This is in the Washington State wilderness portion of the Salmo-Priest

The area is extremely important as habitat for the endangered woodland (mountain) caribou as well as the threatened grizzly bear of the Selkirks. A herd of about 35 caribou use the Salmo-Priest and adjacent land in the Selkirks of Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. Other species present include black bear, cougar, deer, elk, wolverine, and lynx. Rarely a wolf passes through the area.

The Idaho area is threatened by logging as is the area north in British Columbia. The days are gone when the U.S. could count on Canada as a source of wilderness and dispersal of rare animals down into the United States.


Snowytop Peak

Snowy Top, elev. 7572, just inside Idaho and just south of the B.C. border as
seen from east, looking across the drainage of the Upper Priest River.

Copyright Ralph Maughan

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The Salmo-Priest Wilderness and roadless area/ rev. Feb. 18, 2004
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