Willow Ridge Yurt Proposal Dropped

NIC Proposes Willow Ridge Yurt


North Idaho College’s Outdoor Pursuits outdoor program is seeking a permit from the Idaho Panhandle National Forest to locate and operate a yurt on West Willow Ridge.  In 2003, due to the efforts of members of the Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance, similar plans for location of a yurt in Boulder Creek basin were stopped.

A yurt is not appropriate in the Stevens Peak Backcountry.  It only takes about an hour and a half to ski or hike to the location being proposed for yurt.   The permit currently being sought would locate the yurt in an area that has traditionally and primarily been a day-use area.  The Stevens Peak Backcountry sees greater use each winter as the popularity of snowshoeing and backcountry snowboarding and skiing grows (explodes?).  At the same time more and more motorized use drives the quiet seekers into a shrinking area.  West Willow Ridge is possibly the area most heavily used by backcountry skiers and snowboarders in the Stevens Peak Backcountry.  The yurt’s proposed location would be too near complex terrain where three lives have been lost in avalanche accidents since 2005.  A yurt would only act to increase the number of users in that location, which along with the presence of the yurt, would detract from the opportunity for individuals to experience the winter “wilderness”.  A yurt brings with it a sense of ownership and territorialism which denies “outsiders” the opportunity of others to experience the area as they would like to.   A yurt does not fit into the spirit or our long term vision of protecting the Stevens Peak Backcountry.

Opportunities for outdoor education in the winter backcountry abound for anyone willing to make the effort to travel through the area using only their heart, lungs, legs and mind.  Generations of youth have learned winter camping and avalanche safety skills in the Stevens Peak backcountry including the boy scouts and outdoor students from NIC and other local universities.  This tradition does not need to include a yurt experience.


3 Responses to Willow Ridge Yurt Proposal Dropped

  1. Ben says:

    It seems that a yurt would encourage instead of “detract from the opportunity for individuals to experience the winter “wilderness”.”

    With the growing number of snowmobilers using the area, I wonder if supporting a NIC yurt would help organize against motorized usage of the area. That is unless NIC uses snowmobiles to access the yurt which it does not sound like they do.

  2. Chris Warila says:

    Let’s keep the back country “back country.” If people want to go snow camping and be in the wild, they are not looking for a hotel in the wild.

  3. PB says:

    There’s an old backcountry saying, ” If it were easy, everybody’d be doing it” I say leave it that way. No yurt please. Also, some pretty dangerous terrain up there…
    As a practical matter, the parking at Willow is minimal. The ‘yurters’ would take the few available. Boulder isn’t much better. How about they put the yurt down by the outhouses!

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