By Christine Peterson
In his early 20s, Bill Christensen would gather a group of buddies and head into the mountain for a week. With no meals.
“We would either catch fish or be hungry.”
They rarely went more than a day without food, eventually finding fish in one of the Uintas’ hundreds of lakes. The experiences left an indelible impression on him decades before roadless areas were a possibility, and decades before Utah’s population exploded.
“We didn’t run into anyone for a week. It was a private experience and a wonderful experience to sit there and listen to the wind in the pines.”
Many of those areas he wandered are now protected as roadless areas. And that peace and quiet remains.
“Do I think everywhere in the state should be roadless? No, I don’t, I think some should remain that way.”
While his earliest memories may be of fishing, Bill’s life’s work has been dedicated to hunting and wildlife conservation.
“I’ve been involved in management issues on public lands and forest service, BLM and some state institutional trust lands for over 30 years. I along with others started a group called the Utah Hunters Federation in the mid-80s. In 1986, I volunteered and formed the first Utah chapter of the RMEF.”
That chapter helped launch a career with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and culminated in 27 years as the Utah regional director.
In all of those years working with and advocating for wildlife and open spaces, Bill learned some very important lessons:
“Roadless areas are excellent areas for raising elk and having older age class animals.”
“You can’t argue with the fact that roadless areas tend to be very good elk hunting areas.”
In the last nearly 50 years he has hunted bear, elk, deer and forest grouse in roadless areas and wilderness. He has fished, camped and ridden horses through them. And now he takes his grandchildren bird watching, fishing, hiking and camping.
“Our family’s lucky enough to have two properties and one is on the west end of Uintas near Woodland. That is a base where we would go out and leave with horses and ride into the roadless areas and we would come back a bunch of unwashed hobos and jump into the upper Provo River and get cleaned off before we were allowed in the cabin.”
Other Utah Roadless stories: Heidi Lewis finds a special solace in roadless areas and she loves sharing adventures there with her family. Harv Forsgren retired from the Forest Service after a 35-year career. Read his letter to the Salt Lake Tribune.