| Opposition to Tester's bill from "Citizens for Balanced Use": "The movement by environmental organizations to remove people from the land, both federally managed and private, has found a new friend in Senator Tester. The Montana Senator that went to San Francisco and the East Coast to finance his campaign is paying back all those green tea drinkers for all the money they gave him." From what I'm hearing, a lot of those "green tea drinkers" don't like this bill either.
Such as Ralph Maughan: "In recent years, however, areas have been proposed for Wilderness designation where livestock effects are seen and felt on almost every acre. Yes, these areas are roadless, with little previous logging activity, and no permanent structures, but to call them places where the effects of humans are not lasting or very evident is a bad joke.
"This bill continues in this bad tradition and grandfathers this use."
Read Bill Schneider's latest on the bill: "Tester's Wilderness Bill, the Sweet and the Sour." Here's the lede: "Based on past commentaries and concerns with Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership draft legislation, I suspect many readers expect me to oppose Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Restoration Act of 2009. And I might, but not now. Instead, I've decided to keep my powder dry and reserve judgment until I see how the bill fares in the legislative process and what amendments win approval.
"Right now, I definitely see it as a sweet-and-sour pill for Montana, the main reason for my indecisiveness. To summarize, here are a few things I like--and don't like--about what could become Montana's first wilderness bill in 26 years."
Among the "sour" aspects of the bill Schneider opines that 668,000 acres of Wilderness area is "not enough," suggesting enlarging of some of the suggested areas and inclusion of others. Also, Schneider's "game changer" is release of the most of the "fabulous" West Pioneers Wilderness Study Area, that "should definitely not be tolerated, and I really have a hard time believing Congress would undo the great work of legendary Montana senators Lee Metcalf and Mike Mansfield who fought hard for S.393, nor can I believe our leading green groups or Senator Tester can even suggest this without choking on their own words."
Ochenski: "The challenge for Tester and the bill's supporters is to build a groundswell of support, but the veil of secrecy surrounding the measure, which was only lifted last Friday, has not worked in their favor. Already a number of wilderness advocates have panned the measure, and they're joined by motorized recreationists and county commissioners from the affected areas who are unhappy about any number of the bill's provisions.
"Wilderness advocates, for instance, see the de-designation of 12 Wilderness Study Areas as un-doing the work of Montana's late Sen. Lee Metcalf, who has a wilderness area named after him to honor his dedication and accomplishments. Metcalf's legislation from the late '70s requires those areas to be managed to preserve their wilderness characteristics. But Tester's bill, while designating new wilderness, will remove that protection and open the areas to logging, motorized use and development.
"But wilderness was seldom mentioned at the press conference. Instead, Tester and most of the speakers focused on its utility to the logging industry, which Tester says is 'in crisis.' Under the provisions of the bill, the U.S. Forest Service is mandated to log nearly 100,000 acres of forest over the next 10 years. The key word here is 'mandated.' The Beaverhead-Deerlodge portion of the bill, for instance, says 7,000 acres a year must be harvested from the forest as part of 'landscape scale' forest treatments. Theoretically, the revenue generated from the sale of those logs will be reinvested in the forest to improve and maintain fisheries, fix trails, remove culverts and stabilize or remove roads.
"But therein lies the rub.
"As Tester admitted at the press conference, 'If nobody wants to bid on these, we are in trouble.' The trouble, however, is already here. Much of Montana is now covered with dead and dying forests due to drought, warmer winters and longer, hotter summers that have spawned an exponential explosion of bark beetles. Wood supply isn't the problem-it's the lack of demand for wood products. With the most severe economic recession in 60 years and the concurrent collapse of the housing market, there is simply no demand for the lumber, no matter how many acres are mandated to be cut. And without a market, there will be no revenues for the restoration work the 'stewardship' logging is supposed to generate. When questioned by a reporter about what would happen if the market didn't turn up, Tester simply replied: 'It's gotta happen.'"
Rick Bass: "One accusation is the bill has been assembled in secret. This is laughable, given how participants have promoted their community projects, posted websites with proposed drafts of the bill, mailed out brochures, invited comment for years, held open community meetings, asked for input and drove to meet in person the very people who are now claiming falsely to have been excluded. I personally have rolled out the maps and explained the proposal to many of the new critics feigning ignorance.
"But as Mark Twain said, a lie goes around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.
"On one side, critics say the bill is a Trojan horse by the timber industry, brought in by environmentalists co-opted by the mills. On the other side, critics say the bill is a Trojan horse by environmentalists to destroy the last of our desperate timber mills. I can assure you that there is nothing so cynical or manipulative going on here. It's really much simpler: Montanans who know the contours of their forests quite well are putting the past behind them, and seeking solutions.
"As an environmentalist, I am deeply troubled by these and other false claims that the bill is comprised of anything but integrity. It's a small bill, true, but a new start-and again, the fact that Tester is willing to devote time and resources to developing a solution for conflicts in Montana, when so much else of the world is in such worse shape, humbles those of us who have been involved in the process since day one."
New West publisher Jonathan Weber explains in The Atlantic that Tester's wilderness bill represents "carefully structured processes" of small Mountain West communities "by which people on all sides of the debate can meet and negotiate for what's really critical to them, rather than shout at each other in the service of an absolutist agenda. When you do that, you can start to bring politicians of both parties along. And sometimes, you can then actually get something done."
On Western environmentalists: "On the other side are traditional environmentalists. They argue, with some justification, that what's at issue are the last scraps of Western wilderness, and that it's nothing less than a betrayal of future generations to sacrifice them for short-term economic gain. Once the old-growth trees and the extensive wildlife habitat they provide are gone, they're gone forever. And why should a handful of loggers and ranchers be allowed to dictate policy on millions of acres of land which they don't own but rather are allowed to use courtesy of all Americans?
"Yet the old-school greens too often refuse to recognize even legitimate objections to their agenda. Since they have little political support, they rely on court actions - and especially suing the federal agencies - as their primary strategy. This does not exactly help them in the court of public opinion."
More: "Many environmental groups, such as the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, consider these efforts a sell-out, dismissing the new wilderness areas as mere 'rock-and-ice' that's no good for other uses anyway. They are furious at organizations like the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, and the Montana Wilderness Association for supporting the compromises. They're now furious at Tester, too, noting, probably correctly, that it was environmentalists and not loggers who helped get him elected. The bill's fate in Congress is by no means assured, partly because of opposition from the left.
"Personally, I find Tester's legislation a little light on wilderness protection and little heavy on job-preserving mechanisms that preserve very few jobs. Frankly, I'd probably vote for NREPA if I ever had the chance.
"But I do respect the process that produced these compromises - highly time-consuming, good-faith efforts by many people over a long period of time. I'm hoping the final bill may yet tilt a little more toward my personal priorities, but that's not really the point."