The Frank Church Wilderness

Sitting around a campfire along Big Creek in 1927, Boise Payette Lumber Company executive Harry Shellworth started talking about an idea. This was his 20th trip into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and this time, he brought some friends along to see the place. He suggested that this part of Idaho should be saved from development. His friends, Idaho Governor H. Clarence Baldridge, Kellogg mining executive Stanley Easton, and District Forester Richard Rutledge among them, agreed.

Fifty-three years later, Idaho Senator Frank Church led efforts to set aside what he called, "the crown jewel of the National Wilderness System." Today, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area extends through six national forests and is twice the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.

Outdoor Idaho looks at this unique wilderness area. The Frank Church Wilderness would never have come into existence without political compromise. But its preservation came at a price. Frank Church wrote a friend saying he felt saving this part of the state would be his "last major accomplishment for Idaho...

One of the hallmarks of the Frank Church Wilderness is its educational opportunity. Called "America's wildest classroom," the University of Idaho maintains a permanently staffed wilderness field station in the heart of the Frank Church. Taylor Ranch is one of the oldest homesteads within the wilderness. Outdoor Idaho features the students who conduct biological research and the instructors who teach essential back-country skills in this historic setting.

The Frank Church Wilderness is also home to reintroduced wolves. For the last few years, biologists who manage the wolf packs have had help from practitioners of one of human's oldest skills, tracking. Outdoor Idaho goes along with trackers from the Wilderness Awareness School who are testing out modern computer technology to aid them in their ancient art.


Finally this episode of Outdoor Idaho takes viewers along for a llama pack trip into the heart of this giant wilderness. One participant called the experience, "about as close to heaven as you can get."


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