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An Outstanding Feature

Employees of the Ashley National Forest (the Ashley) are working on a forest plan revision, and as part of that process they’ve been inventorying and evaluating areas for potential addition to the national wilderness preservation system.

Ever since I was a child I’ve felt passionate about wild places, and I get involved in efforts to protect them whenever I can. So when the Ashley recently invited people to comment on their current process I took that opportunity.

I commented about the process in general, and about specific areas in the Uinta Mountains – and I also commented about areas in the southern part of the Ashley (the South Ashley), which includes places like Indian Canyon, Anthro Mountain, and the Avintaquin area.

People don’t seem to know, or care, as much about the South Ashley as they do the Uintas. While the Uintas certainly are amazing, I think the South Ashley also has its own merits and also deserves protection.

In evaluating areas on the forest for wilderness characteristics one of the things the Ashley’s team looked for was “outstanding landscape features.” They concluded that several of the areas they evaluated, including the South Ashley’s Wire Fence area, don’t have any outstanding landscape features.

I traveled to the Wire Fence area a few years ago while looking at places that would’ve been impacted by a plan the Ashley had at the time to develop several hundred new oil wells (shortly before the crash in the oil market took away the incentive for that). While there I came across a feature I thought was pretty outstanding.

This past January I traveled back to the area and skied to the location of the feature. I’ll let you, dear reader, look at the photographs I took and see if you think it’s outstanding. I hope you do.

The journey begins
Tracks of rabbits and other animals
Ah, sagebrush!
Rodent tracks, with tail marks
I love this view; the Forest Service had planned to put a road through the middle of it
Rugged skiing
I see the shapes of a duck and goat in the snow
Note the rabbit tracks in the foreground and the ice in the upper left background
Boxelder leaves
Boxelder trees
The ski parking lot 🙂
It sure feels like an outstanding feature when you’re next to it
Note two birds in the treetops
I felt like I was looking at some kind of temple

Some of the icicles were so delicate

This makes me imagine a group of ice angels huddled together
Another ice angel?
Looking back from the ice flow; the Forest Service wanted to put an oil well here

The hot water in the thermos warmed me up
I think these cliffs are another outstanding feature
Heading back
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