Mel QualeMel Quale is an active member of the Blue Ribbon Coalition and a past president of the Idaho Trail Machine Association. He was ridden trailbikes for more than 40 years. We interviewed him in July at the end of Pole Creek Road in the White Clouds.
What do you think about the proposal to designate the Boulder-White Clouds wilderness?
“We already have the wilderness. Lets think of some creative things that we can do in the areas here that would lend itself to something different than wilderness. You could take the rocks and ice parts of the White Clouds and that’s not going to be used by motorized vehicles anyway…Most of the trails were originally made either by the miners or the cattle people; they were a means of getting from here to there. A lot of those routes were inherited. Let’s think of ways to make routes that are environmentally friendly that also get people where they want to go. Maybe make a skyline route. With the technology that we have today it can be done, and it would be forever.”
Can a compromise be reached between the different user-groups?
“Eventually, there will be a compromise because eventually a decision on the White Clouds will be made. Whether it will be made in the next few months or years, I’m doubtful. But eventually it will. I think that the trend is on the side of managed forest. Back in the 70s, there was a trend towards wilderness preservation, congressionally designated wilderness. But that’s changed. Frank Church when he was defeated after the creation at his leadership of the now Frank Church Wilderness, he attributed part of his loss to that wilderness legislation. Politicians have been very reluctant to get into that because they realize that that could be a snake-pin. But I think that over time, we will see a coming together of ideas and a coming together of thoughts as to what should be managed and how we should manage it. After all, this is within a recreation area and that doesn’t mean just one kind of recreation. So I think it will happen, but as for a timetable, it may not happen in any of our lifetimes. Right now, nothing bad is going to happen.”
What do you enjoy about trailbiking?
“There is a challenge to the riding. Being able to combine the
beautiful scenery and piney woods, the smell is part of the attraction.
The ability to go see things that other people can’t see. The combination
of that is really it…The motorcycle gives me enough exercise so
that I know I have done something. And yet, I don’t go home bone-tired.
I go home recharged. I think that’s what recreation means. It is
really ‘re-creation.’ And re-creation to me means getting
that recharge that you can’t get on a city street, or at an amusement
park, or going to a movie. This is real, and to me that’s why God
created it. We get re-created by enjoying what he created.”