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Frank-ly Speaking

posted Jun 20, 2017, 9:18 AM by Dustin Thomas   [ updated Jun 20, 2017, 9:42 AM ]
Frank Church
In total, there are over 600 million acres of public land that are owned equally by ALL Americans. That's nearly a million square miles. If it was all arranged into a single, uniform land mass, it would be over 1000 miles across. That's a lot of land!

Unfortunately, public lands come with a lot of controversy. How should they be used? Who should manage them? What about financial benefits? The issues are complicated and I am still trying to wrap my head around a lot of it.

The bottom line though is that this land is out there and you are missing out if you don't go enjoy it. To that end, I am helping lead a group of Boy Scouts on a 50-mile hike through part of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho. We've been strengthening our muscles, honing our packing skills, and gathering as much knowledge as possible in preparation for what promises to be a very memorable trip. I've lived in Idaho for over 20 years, so the Frank is something I've come to cherish. I thought I would share a couple interesting tidbits I recently picked up regarding our beloved Frank:

I thought I knew that the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area was the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states (and probably the longest name). Turns out, that isn't true. Death Valley Wilderness Area is actually larger by about 600,000 acres. Here's a table of wilderness areas in the United States for those interested in the numbers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_wilderness_areas_in_the_United_States. Now I think I remember someone once hedging the "Frank is largest" talk with something about being all within one state - Death Valley Wilderness Area is in both California and Nevada. The point becomes a little moot when considering all 50 states because Alaska is king (Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness is almost twice as big as Death Valley and The Frank combined).

I was listening to back issues of The Dirtbag Diaries yesterday and I heard about one of the coolest ideas ever. The episode was titled "The Remotest" and it chronicled Rebecca and Ryan Means's plan to visit the most remote spot in all 50 states. One thing that caught my attention was the mention of Idaho's most remote spot being 17.9 miles from a road. I thought that had to be wrong. Could 17.9 miles really be the furthest you could get from a road in Idaho? I doubted it right up until I pulled out my Frank Church River of No Return map and took a look for myself. Yup, it looks like they did their homework. Thinking about it, 17.9 miles from any road really means that you are 17.9 miles from at least 2 different roads (otherwise you could move over and be more remote), That's nearly 36 roadless miles as the crow flies. That is a long ways. Rebecca and Ryan have chronicled many of their adventures, including an extensive write-up about their Idaho trip on their website: http://remotefootprints.org. Take a look!

That's all I have for now. Get out and play on your land!

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