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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
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If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
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It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.

New Draft of Tester Bill Put Together by Senate Committee: Will Sen Tester Let the Public See It?

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 07:07:34 AM MST


( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

Yesterday, members of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign called on Senator Tester to make public a new "Discussion Draft" version of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) that was put together by the US Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee and given to Senator Tester last month.

Since the Committee's draft includes significant new language, we believe it's in the best interest of all Montanans and Americans for Senator Tester to make a copy of the Committee's draft available for public review and input.  This step will ensure transparency and give all members of the public an equal opportunity to review the new draft language.

The Committee's new draft drops the controversial mandated logging levels on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests and drops Senator Tester's 12-month timeline for environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, which the head of the Forest Service called "flawed and are legally vulnerable" during last December's Senate hearing.

The Committee's new draft also adds language requiring that any project carried out under the bill must maintain old growth forests and retain large trees, while focus any hazardous fuel reduction efforts on small diameter trees.

The Committee's draft drops several of the controversial Wilderness provisions, including those allowing helicopter landings for military training exercises and herding livestock with ATVs in Wilderness, but other provisions that compromise the integrity of the proposed Wildernesses remain in the new draft.

Matthew Koehler :: New Draft of Tester Bill Put Together by Senate Committee: Will Sen Tester Let the Public See It?
Today's Great Falls Tribune contains an article , which makes it clear that Senator Tester and the Montana timber industry won't support any Wilderness bill that doesn't include logging mandates.

The article also indicates that Senator Tester has not decided to release the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's new draft re-write to the public, only to the timber industry and political insiders.  Why?  And how does this action jive with Senator Tester's pledge to support transparency in government?

However, what about the Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation - the conservation groups that have been among the loudest cheerleaders in support of Senator Tester's current, original bill?

Are these conservation groups seriously not in support of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's draft re-write?

After all, the ENR Committee's draft still would protect over 600,000 acres in Montana as Wilderness.  Isn't that one of the big goals these groups touted over the past few years? We have to break the Montana Wilderness drought?

The ENR Committee's draft would also establish a "National Forest Jobs and Restoration Initiative" that would still "preserve and create local jobs in rural communities...to sustain the local logging and restoration infrastructure and community capacity...to promote cooperation and collaboration...to restore or improve the ecological function of priority watersheds...to carry out collaborative projects to restore watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires to communities."

Again, aren't these the types of goals and restoration and fuel reduction projects to create local jobs that these groups touted over the past few years?

The ENR Committee's draft also eliminates many of the most controversial (and anti-environmental) aspects of Tester's current bill, which you can bet was done at the behest of the US Forest Service, Obama Administration and the Committee Chairman.   So much for all those talking-points inspired letters to the editor and blog comments we've all seen over the past six months telling us that the Obama Administration, Secretary Vilsack and the US Forest Service now support or are "warming up" to Sen Tester's bill, eh?

As I mentioned previously, the Committee draft drops the mandated logging, drops the arbitrary 12-month NEPA timeline, drops military helicopters landing in Wilderness, drops motorized sheep herding in Wilderness, removes the budgetary problems currently in Tester's bill and adds some language about maintaining old-growth and retaining large trees.

Shouldn't these changes in the Committee's draft be viewed as positive steps in the right direction by the Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation?  If not, why?

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't clearly point out that many in the conservation community - including members of our Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign - have been calling on just these types of changes to be made in the bill for almost a year now.  The response from many of the most die-hard supporters of Tester's bill has been, at best, to ignore these concerns, or, at worst, to even go so far as to say that we were lying and making stuff up. The NewWest site is full of commentaries and comments along these lines that anyone can review for themselves.  Well, apparently, if the ENR Committee's draft drops many of these concerning provisions we must have been justified and correct to bring these concerns to the public's attention, right?

If you'd like to get some answers, and if you think you should have a stake in the future of public lands management and should be able to see the ENR Committee's draft re-write of Senator Tester's bill so you can review it and provide input, please contact Senator Tester's office directly.

Send your emails at:  http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/index.cfm

Or contact Senator Tester at his DC or Missoula office.

Washington, D.C.
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2604
Phone: (202) 224-2644
Fax: (202) 224-8594

Missoula
130 W Front Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

You may also wish to share your views and get your questions answered by contacting these organizations:

Montana Wilderness Association: 406-443-7350    http://wildmontana.org
Montana Trout Unlimited: 406-543-0054    http://www.montanatu.org
National Wildlife Federation: 406-721-6705   http://www.nwf.org/northernroc...

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Can bad intentions, and bad public policy, be fixed? (0.00 / 0)
Restoration, when coupled with timber industry subsidies and logging, leads to more ecological damage, more fiscal irresponsibility, more privatization of public trust assets, and more clever ways to subvert the intent of settled environmental laws.  

Candidate Tester promised to protect all roadless areas.  He lied.  He promised transparent government and meaningful citizen participation.  He lied.  

Clearcutting is not restoration.  Where is the clause in Tester's bill that prohibits clearcutting?  Bulldozers create "temporary" roads, baring mineral soil.  The damage is measured in lifetimes.  The cost is never recovered.

There is no fix for this bill.  Our forests, and all living things in our forests deserve much, much better.


John Adams Posted It (0.00 / 0)
The "Working Draft" has been posted on John Adam's blog - along with a rather scathing account of Tester's lack of transparency.

http://mtlowdown.blogspot.com/...


I'm mad atTester for something else (0.00 / 0)
Tester has indicated that he will side with NorthWestern Energy against the people of SW Montana on the MSTI project.  Those of us who aren't happy about an ugly, gargantuan power-line project running through some of the most beautiful parts of Jefferson, Silver Bow, and Beaverhead Counties have been told to redirect our concern to the Public Service Commission.

MSTI (Mountain States Transmission Intertie) will be comprised of 140-foot metal towers marching along some of the most scenic parts of the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Red Rock Rivers.  In places, strobe lights will be needed to warn aircraft.  The effect will be to industrialize our landscapes.

There are numerous economic and environmental reasons why MSTI is a terrible idea.  But NWE had enough political juice to push it through the Public Service Commission.  Without push-back from powerful politicians, the project will be jammed down our throats.

For more info on this, go to www.concernedcitizensmontana.net.    


December 29, 2009 Letter to Senator Tester (0.00 / 0)
Snip from Letter:

"At the December 17, 2009 Senate Subcommittee hearing you expressed a willingness to work together with Under Secretary Sherman to address the Forest Service's substantial concerns with S 1470 as it is currently written.  Since the major concerns expressed by Under Secretary Sherman are also the same concerns shared by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign and members of our coalition, we respectfully request that you include representatives of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign in any and all discussions and communications between your office, the Forest Service, the Obama administration, members of the Beaverhead Partnership and any other interested parties related to changes, alterations and improvements to S 1470."

December 29, 2009

Senator Jon Tester
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2604

Dear Senator Tester:

I wanted to make sure that you have a copy of the testimony I submitted on behalf of the WildWest Institute and the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign on December 17, 2009 to the US Senate's Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests concerning S 1470.

The easiest way for you to view the entire testimony is on-line at: http://energy.senate.gov/publi... .

As I mentioned at the December 17, 2009 Subcommittee hearing, the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign is a coalition of conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, forest restoration and the sound long-term management of our public lands.  Our coalition includes 4th and 5th generation Montanans, small-business owners, veterans, retired Forest Service supervisors and district rangers, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, outfitters and guides, scientists and community leaders.

In our testimony, you'll notice that our coalition provided you and the Subcommitee with a line-by-line analysis of S 1470, including specific recommendations to greatly improve the bill.  We also produced a document expressing our concerns with the bill as written, which has been signed by over fifty-five conservation groups from Montana and around America, as well as hundreds of concerned citizens.

I'd like to point out that many of the major concerns that conservation groups and citizens in Montana and around the country have been expressing about S 1470 are also concerns shared by Under Secretary Sherman, the Forest Service and the White House. For example, Under Secretary Sherman's testimony delivered to the Senate is available here: http://energy.senate.gov/publi...

Additionally, here is some of what Under Secretary Sherman said at the December 17, 2009 hearing:

"If the Committee decides to go forward with a bill, we would urge you to first, alter or remove the highly specific timber supply requirements, which in our view are not reasonable or achievable. Secondly, we like to urge you to amend the National Environmental Policy Act related provisions, which in our view are flawed and are legally vulnerable.  Thirdly, we would urge you to consider the budgetary implications to meet the bill's requirements.  If we were to go forward with S1470 it would require far greater resources to do that and it will require us to draw these monies from forests within Region One or from other Regions. And lastly, there are a number of other issues that I have flagged in my written testimony that we think needs to be addressed and hopefully corrected."

"There is the likelihood that if Congress were to move forward and pass legislation such as we are talking about today, that other regions will want to do so similarly. Now, if that happens, my concern is that there will be somewhat of a balkanization that occurs between the different regions in the country. Those who are first in may get funded and those who come later may find there are less funds available. There will be certain 'haves' and 'have nots' that result from this process. Then in someways there is no longer a true national review, an effort to sift out what priorities ought to exist across the country."

You'll notice a striking similarity between the concerns expressed by Under Secretary Sherman, the Forest Service and the Obama administration with the concerns I expressed on behalf of our Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign during my oral testimony. For example:

"Our coalition supports forest and watershed restoration, protecting our roadless wildlands and sustainable jobs in the woods.  Therefore, the issue before this committee today is not what the drafters of this bill intended to do; rather the issue before you is what this bill, as written, actually would do.

Our coalition believes that, despite the best intentions of Senator Tester, this bill represents a serious threat to America's public lands legacy. The mandated logging provisions are unprecedented and represent an unscientific override of current forest planning. The notion that Congress should legislate logging levels on public lands is antithetical to the National Forest Management Act and irresponsible given that lumber consumption in America has dropped 55%.

The bill undermines the National Environmental Policy Act by imposing an unrealistic and arbitrary 12-month NEPA timeline, which would preclude the Forest Service from accurately assessing environmental impacts, essentially setting the agency up for failure.

This bill would localize and the management of our national forests, opening the floodgates for mandated logging, mining, grazing, drilling or road building for national public lands elsewhere. This could fragment and balkanize the entire National Forest system and ignores the basic principle that national public lands belong equally to all Americans.

The numerous unfunded mandates included in this bill could cost US taxpayers well over $100 million and raises the very real potential for other National Forests to have their funds raided and transferred to these forests."

At the December 17, 2009 Senate Subcommittee hearing you expressed a willingness to work together with Under Secretary Sherman to address the Forest Service's substantial concerns with S 1470 as it is currently written.  Since the major concerns expressed by Under Secretary Sherman are also the same concerns shared by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign and members of our coalition, we respectfully request that you include representatives of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign in any and all discussions and communications between your office, the Forest Service, the Obama administration, members of the Beaverhead Partnership and any other interested parties related to changes, alterations and improvements to S 1470. 

I greatly look forward to hearing back from you in a timely manner and our coalition looks forward to working together with you and others to make necessary changes, alternations and improvements to S 1470.

Sincerely,

Matthew Koehler
WildWest Institute
PO Box 7998
Missoula, MT 59807
406-396-0321


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