Welcome to our new series, Wilderness Wednesday! This series will feature photos of Idaho’s vast wilderness, particularly our National Forests, National Parks, and Wilderness Areas.
Idaho currently has 3 national parks and 7 national forests.1 The national forests cover approximately 20.4 million acres in Idaho, which is almost 40% of the state.2 In 2014, national forests supplied over 10,000 jobs in Idaho and a 2017 report indicated that approximately 6.6 million people visit Idaho’s National Forests each year, spending about $370 million annually.3 As a result, Idaho’s National Forests, among other public lands, are a crucial part of the state’s identity, history, and economy.
Each week, we’ll learn a little bit about the history of a wilderness area and its importance to Idaho’s story. We’ll also be reminded that Idaho’s landscape has been occupied by Indigenous people for thousands of years. Much archaeological evidence shows that Indigenous people have been living in Idaho for at least 8,000 years, while one study wrote that “there is evidence that intelligent, highly skilled people have lived in Idaho for at least the past twelve to fifteen thousand years.”4 Although we can’t dive into the full history of the relationship between Indigenous nations and the U.S. government for this particular series, we recognize that this history is a constant backdrop to any discussion about Idaho’s lands.
Stay tuned for our first post next week, where we’ll talk about the Bitterroot National Forest!