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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.

Tester's wilderness bill links...

by: Jay Stevens

Mon Jul 27, 2009 at 09:27:07 AM MST


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."

Jay Stevens :: Tester's wilderness bill links...
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Addressing Rick Bass (0.00 / 0)
Hello, Since a link and snip was provided from Rick Bass' commentary from the most recent Indy, I figured I'd paste below the comment I just provided at the Indy's new slick website here: (http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/a-welcome-change/Content?oid=1154504). Thanks, Matthew

Rick, With all due respect and appreciation, I do have to address your bold claim that those of us who have been concerned since 2006 with the exclusive, self-selective nature of some of these public lands "collaborations" are either telling a "lie" or "feigning ignorance." That's simply not true Rick and readers deserve to know the whole story.

Rick, to my knowledge, all of the criticism about the exclusive, self-selective nature of some of these public lands "collaborations" has been directed at the Beaverhead Partnership and, to a lessor extent, to the Blackfoot-Clearwater proposal. I haven't seen one instance where any of this criticism has been directed at your groups involvement with the Three Rivers Challenge. That's an important distinction which needs to be acknowledged.

The secret, non-transparent, exclusive nature of the Beaverhead Partnership has been well established by many people since it was unveiled in the spring of 2006. It's not like this is new news to anyone who has been following this issue closely over the past 3 years.

For example, the director of the public policy program at Arizona State University's law school (and the former counsel to the House Resources Committee) wrote an article expressing serious concerns about the nature of the "Beaverhead Partnership" that appeared in the Los Angeles Times in January 2008 (http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/24/opinion/oe-rosenberg24).

NewWest.net's outdoor writer, "Wild" Bill Schneider has written extensively about this issue for the past three years and they even published a memo from some Montana Wilderness Association members (written in March 2007) blasting MWA for their questionable roll in the Beaverhead Partnership (See:
http://www.newwest.net/main/ar...

Regarding the Blackfoot-Clearwater project, the undeniable fact is that the WildWest Institute DID TRY and be an active member of their "collaboration" but the Wilderness Society and other members of that "collaboration" ignored our numerous formal requests to be included. For proof of the validity of my statement, see the email chain below, which speaks for itself. It should also be noted that, to my knowledge, all of the 15 concerns listed below were just completely ignored by the Blackfoot-Clearwater group.

Ironically, our organization was intentionally excluded and prevented from being members of the Blackfoot-Clearwater "collaboration" despite the fact that we are active and important members of the Montana Forest Restoration Working Group and the Lolo Restoration Committee and our history of working on common ground with the Lolo National Forest dates back before any of these other exclusive, self-selective "collaborations" sprouted up. For example, see the Missoula Indy's feature story for July 21, 2005 titled, "Out on a limb: Local Conservationists and Lolo National Forest official reach out in an attempt to find common ground."

This comment will be long enough without getting into other issues, so I'll leave it at that for right now. Suffice to say, public lands management needs to be open to all people, not just the corporations who covet our public resources and the self-selected few.

Thanks, Matthew

---------------
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009
To: "Scott Brennan"
From: Matthew Koehler
Subject: Re: Thanks again...
Cc: , "Broberg,Len" , , "George Nickas" , "Tom DeLuca" , "Bob Ekey" , jake, cam,

Scott, Thanks for writing up the notes. It was certainly good to sit down with you, Tom and the others to discuss the BCSP.

Over all, I think the notes do a decent job of encapsulating our conservation with the following modifications.

1) My recollection from the meeting was that the biomass proposal, as it's currently written, had no support form anyone in the room. I think that's an important point that needs to be clearly articulated in the notes below. Concerns were raised not only about using millions in taxpayer funding to give the lumber mill free energy, but Tom and others also spoke about the ecological concerns with the biomass facility. If my memory is correct, Tom even said that another TWS scientist (can't recall the name) has similar ecological concerns. Again, this needs to be in the notes and shared with the BCSP folks.

2) Something I don't see in the Summary of Comments, but something we discussed quite a bit, was the public perception that supporters of the BCSP are giving. We talked about the concern that you folks, in your press work and other public meetings, are giving the indication that this is a done deal (based on direction from MT's Congressional delegation) and that there are no concerns or issues with the BCSP as it currently stands. That's not true and I hope these notes can be amended to include this fact and also that BCSP supporters will keep this in mind as we move forward.

Other than that, the notes look good. I'd also just like to re-state something I mentioned at the meeting. WildWest is not categorically opposed to the BCSP. Rather, if the comments and concerns that all of us brought up in the meeting are addressed and incorporated an improved and revised BCSP is something we could likely offer our support towards.

Finally, on Jan 29 I wrote TWS stating, "I would like to respectfully request that WildWest be included in any and all discussions related to the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project (BCSP)." I still haven't heard back regarding this request, so I would appreciate it if someone with BCSP would get back with us about WildWest's request. We're still a little unclear how the BCSP operates.

Thanks again...Onward.

- Matthew

------------------

Matthew, Len, Bethanie and George,

On behalf of Tom DeLuca and myself, I would like to thank you once more for a great conversation about the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project last week. Tom and I both appreciated your interest in the project and the good questions and suggestions you shared during our talk and I am writing today, as promised, to follow up on your comments and questions.

I tried to keep an accurate summary of the issues you raised so I might share them with BCSP steering committee as a way of continuing the good dialogue we initiated last week. Toward this end, I have included a summary of what I think I heard from all of you last Monday and I am asking that you let me know whether my summary below is accurate and complete. Let me know if you have any edits/additions and I will, as I promised, share them with BCSP supporters for consideration.

Best,

Scott

DRAFT Summary of Comments Received on Monday, February 9
1.      How could public funds devoted to biomass component meet diverse local energy needs (perhaps including power for local school, mill, other  businesses, non-profits, etc)?
2.      Update the website to more accurately reflect project details including biomass thinking and other project details including project acreage.
3.      How can we ensure that coal is not burned in any biomass combustion facility the project envisions?
4.      Show how the long-term demand for biomass can be sustainably met from local forests.
5.      Including additional low-elevation lands in wilderness while allowing some higher elevation lands to be designated a snowmobile play area (consistent with recent past uses) seems to be a reasonable trade-off but should be illustrated on a "before and after" map of the project proposal.
6.      Interest in seeing "before and after" map showing current land status/condition and how land would look after legislation was enacted and forest plan amended as envisioned.
7.      How can we ensure that any biomass/cogen facility uses the best available, closed loop technology and will result in no net increase in CO2 emissions?
8.      Explain what will happen if restoration monitoring shows undesired/unintended impacts/outcomes.
9.      Explain the economic viability of stewardship contracting in the current/likely future timber market and how this will impact the viability of restoration work.
10. Explore means of de-linking logging and restoration work; i.e. ensure separate funding sources for each of these activity types
11. Answer the question of why mandatory stewardship is a desirable/viable approach
12. Regarding cooperative forestry funding, how can we ensure that private land restoration is not undone later by private land management practices?
13. Is it possible to get a contractual/financial guarantee that private lands that are restored won't be damaged later by management practices?
14. Add "road decommissioning" as specific language in the legislation.
15. Ensure the benefits (ecological and economic) of the Clearwater Stewardship Project are accurately reflected on website.



The Indy's got two (0.00 / 0)
pieces, both by Jesse Froehling.

One was the front page of this past week's edition - the other being a follow-up blog post, which was based on a conference call Tester had to address some of the criticism.

Just adding to that list there, Jay  :-)  


dang... (0.00 / 0)
...thanks jhwygirl; I saw it but neglected to link to it...

[ Parent ]
"Third-way" wilderness leaves the wild hanging. (0.00 / 0)
Unwild wilderness is what Tester's bill is all about.  It's no good for anything except people who count numbers of acres, jobs, mills, board feet and live in a make-believe world all about control of everything.  All parts of the bill "manage" forests in ways that make sure nothing is left to chance, nothing self-determining, nothing wild.  It's a good way to make what's left of our Montana forests look and feel like the rest of America's forests. When grizzlies are gone from over logging and too many logging roads in the Yaak, it will be finally safe for the movie companies and tour bus companies, and jobs.  

These little land museums are too small, disconnected, and artificial to allow species to maintain their own structure and order. The only thing wrong, it seems, with bigger untrammeled landscapes, and less management, is politics. Leaders like Metcalf and Church changed the politics, others take the easy, controlled path and disappoint.

NREPA does what it can to simply let roadless areas be whatever they choose.  It's the least intrusive, least cost option, and most likely to produce grizzlies, clean water, bull trout and that rarest of qualities nobody can seem to remember, wildness.  If people don't really mean it, why not take that "Keep it Wild" bumpersticker off your car. "More control, Less Wild" seems more appropriate.


Another "Stewardship Contracting" Reality Check (0.00 / 0)
In this article from January (http://missoulian.com/articles/2009/01/02/news/local/news03.txt), we see the Forest Service acknowledge that much of the $100 million worth of "shovel ready" projects in MT and ID involve "cleaning up streambeds, obliterating roads, reclaiming abandoned mines, noxious weed control and other cleanup work left unfinished from previous [stewardship contracting] timber operations."  

That's right, the logging got finished, but tens of millions in restoration work remains.

Keep in mind that all this "work left unfinished from previous [stewardship contracting] timber operations" occurred and has been building up over the past 6 years or so...when lumber demand was still at it's peak and lumber prices for the mills were about triple what they are now.  

So now that lumber demand is down 55% since 2005 and lumber prices are down 60% or so, how many more tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars in "work left unfinished from stewardship contracting logging projects" will we be accumulating when we mandate more public lands logging while there is little demand for wood products?

It's amazing to me, given that Tester's bill is largely being promoted by its supporters for the supposed jobs and restoration work, that nobody looks into this issue more carefully and asks Senator Tester some tough questions based on economic realities and how stewardship contracting has actually played out on the ground in Montana over the years.


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