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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
1 Comments
If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
5 Comments
Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
15 Comments
It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
7 Comments

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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.
Senator Jon Tester

Action Alert: Contact Sen Tester RE: Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

by: Matthew Koehler

Mon Oct 17, 2011 at 14:04:05 PM MST

Please consider contacting Senator Tester and let him know your views on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA).

Via EMIAL: http://tester.senate.gov/Conta...

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

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

Whoops, beyond this I meant to post to Dennis Rehberg's donation page.  

(Diary corrected from copy-paste hell by Rob Kailey)  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Wolf management decision in MT often based on opinion & politics

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 06:22:39 AM MST

That's one of the central points in a new paper titled "Hunting Wolves In Montana - Where Is The Data?" released by Montana indy wolf biologist Jay S. Mallonee.   Mallonee's review paper was published on September 3, 2011, in Nature and Science, a peer reviewed scientific journal, and can be downloaded over at Clean | Green | Sustainable.  
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Atlantic on Reverberations of the Wolf Rider

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 06:40:53 AM MST

From Skylar Browning, Missoula Independent Blog:

The Atlantic went ahead and declared the key environmental issue for the 2012 elections: endangered species.

Forget climate change, writes Associate Editor Nicole Allan. Democrats have invited a potential political problem ever since Montana's own Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Simpson championed the wolf rider, which delisted the gray wolf in the northern U.S.

Allan points out that the rider has created two major problems. The first is a rush of other proposals to delist species that may hold up development. Here's one example:

Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and James Inhofe (Okla.) have proposed amendments to an economic-development reauthorization bill that would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from extending ESA protections to two species prevalent in oil and gas country.

The other problem is something that's already riled some of Tester's former supporters.

By courting Western voters, however, the Democratic Party runs the risk of alienating its environmentalist base of donors and activists.
Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Lead Bullets Find a Champion in Senator Tester

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue May 24, 2011 at 06:31:13 AM MST

Nathan Rice, from High Country News, has the full story over at NewWest.

Here are some snips from the article:

"Last January, three endangered California condors were found dead in Arizona.  The cause of death: lead poisoning.  After eating carrion riddled with spent lead ammunition, the birds' digestive systems likely shut down, starving them to death.  Since condor reintroduction began in Arizona in 1996, 15 have died of lead poisoning; in California, 18 condors have bit the bullet. After 25 years spent trying to recover the condor from near-extinction, the birds remain imperiled by lead in their scavenged prey.

Despite growing concerns about health effects on both humans and wildlife, however, lead ammunition still flies widely unregulated across the West. Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT, wants to keep it that way.

With a bill introduced last month, Tester hopes to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to permanently exempt lead bullets, shot and fishing tackle from regulation....

Just a few weeks ago, Sen. Tester successfully de-listed the Northern Rockies wolf with a budget rider, and it seems likely this is another move aimed at shoring up his conservative cred in a red-leaning state. We'll have to wait until 2012 to see whether that strategy works."

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Action Alert: Senator Tester and his wolf rider

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 08:22:07 AM MST

Yesterday, Senator Jon Tester's shameful and undemocratic tactic of attaching his wolf rider (anti-Endangered Species Act rider) to the US Senate's must-pass budget bill succeeded.

As the New York Times reported, "Congress for the first time is directly intervening in the Endangered Species List and removing an animal from it, establishing a precedent for political influence over the list....The rider is the first known instance of Congress' directly intervening in the list....The rider also precluded judicial review of this provision."

Senator Tester has now opened up the floodgates for more politicians just simply (and quietly) attaching riders to must pass bills to remove other endangered animal and plant species from ESA protections.  Are salmon next? Desert tortoise? Leatherback turtles? Puma? Black-footed ferret?

Senator Tester's actions are a great gift to developers, the resource extraction industry, other special interests and politicians that don't like the ESA and could really give a toot about protecting native wildlife and plants.  The message is clear: just pass a rider and close the court house door like Montana's Senator Tester!

Senator Tester also forever closed the court-house doors and removed the possibility of any judicial review of his wolf rider, meaning wolves are delisted forever, no matter how low their populations may plummet.  Until Senator Tester, this was never done in the 38 year history of the ESA.

Please make sure to contact Senator Tester directly and let him know how you feel about his wolf/ESA rider.  Thank you.

Click here to send an email: http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/

Senator Tester's D.C. Office phone number is:   (202) 224-2644

To speak with someone at Senator Tester's Missoula office, call or visit:
130 W Front Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003

The Endangered Species Coalition has put together a simple-to-use action alert right here:
http://org2.democracyinaction....

Discuss :: (20 Comments)

Senators back delay in crackdown on fees that yield billions for banks

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 09:37:47 AM MST

As reported by Zack Carter of the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, a group of nine senators led by Montana Democrat Jon Tester put their names behind legislation to delay the Federal Reserve's upcoming crackdown on the "swipe fees" that banks charge merchants for processing debit card transactions -- a huge moneymaker for the banking industry whose continuation is at the top of the industry's lobbying wishlist.

Retailers complain that the costs of high swipe fees, also known as "interchange" fees, hurt their business and are ultimately passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. A provision in last year's financial-regulatory overhaul requires the Fed to limit such fees, and in December, the central bank proposed a rule that would cap the levies at 12 cents per transaction, a nearly 73 percent drop from the current average of 44 cents per transaction.

Merchants and financial reform advocates celebrated the move, but the banks are obviously loath to give up such a big piece of any revenue stream, let alone the swipe fees that industry analysts at The Nilson Report estimate yield $1.35 billion every month, or $16.2 billion per year. (Half of that total, according to Nilson, goes to just 10 banks.)

Tester's bill, the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act, would postpone the regulation for two years' worth of further evaluation -- and chances for the bank lobby to erase it entirely....And while Tester and Corker were issuing their statements, the American Bankers Association was holding a meeting on lobbying at the D.C. Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Chinatown. At the meeting, which HuffPost attended, the banking group's COO, Michael Hunter, coached a packed ballroom of community bankers on ways to convince key lawmakers and staffers to support the bill. The Senate bill and its House companion, Hunter said, were the ABA's top legislative priorities for the coming year.

UPDATE: MasterCard issued this statement about Sen Tester's Debit Interchange Fee Study Act.  Meanwhile, this statement comes from Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL):

"Every month we delay limiting the amount banks and credit card companies charge merchants means another $1.3 billion bailout for Visa, MasterCard and their big bank allies. The $13 trillion banking industry doesn't need another handout - especially one paid for by small business and American consumers. I will strongly oppose any attempts to line the pockets of the credit card giants and Wall Street banks by delaying this common sense, pro-consumer legislation."
Discuss :: (18 Comments)

Tester attaches wolf rider to $1 trillion Continuing Resolution

by: Matthew Koehler

Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 06:38:22 AM MST

According to the Missoulian:
"U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has inserted language into the Senate's Continuing Resolution - the bill that funds the entire national budget - declaring the gray wolf a recovered species in Montana and Idaho.  The $1.077 trillion, seven-month spending bill is expected to reach a full Senate vote on Tuesday, and then return to the House of Representatives."

In response, Defenders of Wildlife issued the following press release:

Senate includes wolf delisting bill in must-pass funding pack age:
Provision would strip ESA protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana

Washington, D.C. (March 4, 2011) - In the latest effort to strip federal endangered species protections from gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, a Continuing Budget Resolution to fund federal government operations for the remainder of the fiscal year was unveiled in the Senate today. The provision directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the 2009 delisting rule, which was struck down in 2010 by a federal district court, and would insulate the reissued rule from further judicial review. If enacted, wolf management authority would be returned to all states in the region other than Wyoming. Idaho and Montana have made clear that wolf numbers will be drastically reduced in those states, and Wyoming has thus far refused to produce a wolf management plan that passes muster under the Endangered Species Act.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

"What do wolves have to do with critical funding for our federal government? Absolutely nothing. Congress should be focused on keeping our nation's essential services up and running, not going back on America's commitment to restore wolves to Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.

"This provision would hand over responsibility for wolves to the states when their approach of late has been anything but responsible. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has repeatedly stated his intent to kill as many wolves as possible in Idaho, and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently encouraged ranchers to take the law into their own hands and kill wolves on sight. We should not be rewarding these states for thumbing their noses at the conservation of wolves, wildlife that belongs to all Americans.

"This provision sets a dangerous precedent for legislating on Endangered Species Act protections that could leave countless other species vulnerable to attack. And, by blocking any further judicial review of wolf delisting, this provision sends the message that complying with the law doesn't matter. If Congress adopts this measure, it will be a tragedy not just for wolves and other endangered species, but for the rule of law in America.

"Congress's last-ditch attempt to force wolf delisting through on a budget bill only opens the door to other riders that eat away at the foundation of our nation's environmental safeguards."

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Report: Rehberg to challenge Tester

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 08:14:26 AM MST

This blog post from the Missoula Indy's Skylar Browning has all the details.  Apparently, Rehberg will make the announcement this Saturday at the Lincoln/Reagan Dinner in Helena. 

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

DailyKos Founder Tester Tweet: "Good luck getting re-elected, a--hole."

by: Matthew Koehler

Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 08:56:45 AM MST

The following article appeared today in the Washinton Examiner. - mk

DREAM Act causes ugly breakup on left
By Byron York

Markos  Moulitsas, the influential founder of the lefty website DailyKos, used  to love Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.  Starting back in December  2004, when Moulitsas first praised Tester, then a farmer-turned-state-legislator, as a Democrat who  "naturally speaks the language of rural America," the DailyKos has  portrayed Tester as the cutting edge of a movement by which once  deep-red western states would become swing states and then, perhaps,  permanently blue.

In June 2006, Moulitsas was rhapsodic when Tester won the Democratic  primary to challenge then-Sen. Conrad Burns.  "What a great night,"  Moulitsas wrote.   "Not only did the best Democrat win, but so did Conrad Burns' worst  nightmare. Say hello to the next Senator from the great state of  Montana."  Electing Tester and other favored progressives would create  "a whole new ballgame in Washington DC," Moulitsas added.  "Let's do  everything we can to make it happen."

Moulitsas certainly did his part, promoting the Tester campaign -- "This is the future face of the Democratic Party," he swooned -- and contributing $1,500 to Tester in October 2006.  When Tester defeated Burns, part of a Democratic wave that took over the Senate and House that year, Moulitsas was ecstatic.

Now that's all a bitter memory.  On Capitol Hill, Democrats are using  the lame-duck session to try to ram through some key unfinished parts  of their agenda.  Among them is the DREAM Act immigration bill, a  favorite of Moulitsas'.  And on Friday, Jon Tester, once the darling of  DailyKos, announced that he will vote against it.

Moulitsas' reaction was swift and furious.  "Jon Tester to vote against DREAM," Moulitsas tweeted Friday night.  "Good luck getting re-elected, a--hole."  Moulitsas  began re-tweeting negative comments about Tester -- one said, "Sen.  Tester's active misrepresentation of DREAM act isn't just burning his  bridges, it's going at them with a blowtorch."  And then Moulitsas added  his own final remark: "Anyone who votes to punish innocent kids is a de  facto a--hole."

The DREAM Act isn't the only cause of the breach; just a couple of  days before, Tester voted to extend all the Bush tax cuts.  But there's  no doubt the love affair is over.  When Tester runs for re-election in  2012, he'll have to do it without some of his most passionate supporters from 2006.
Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Update on Sen Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

by: Matthew Koehler

Sat Dec 11, 2010 at 08:32:32 AM MST

This week, Senator Tester and his staff have acknowledged they are working behind the scenes in this lame-duck session of Congress to attach his mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, to a completely unrelated $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill, which is a 'must-pass' bill required to fund the US Government through September 2011.

This is despite the fact that the FJRA never made it out of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, never made it to the floor of the US Senate and never was introduced in the US House.

Many Montana's from all walks of life still have serious, substantive concerns with the FJRA.

It's unfortunate that Senator Tester is pursuing such a questionable, and some might say underhanded, tactic to pass this bill.  Back in 2006, didn't state Senator Tester campaign against Senator Burns for using just these types of questionable, undemocratic tactics?

Don't forget that this past summer Senator Tester had his chance to have the FJRA approved by the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. That version would have designated over 660,000 acres in Montana as Wilderness and would have moved some important watershed and restoration work forward.

However, Senator Tester blew that chance because he and four timber mills were completely unwilling to compromise on the mandated logging provisions and allowing motors within Wilderness.

Amazingly, to date, the Great Falls Tribune is the only newspaper in the state which feels this is a newsworthy, important development to let Montanans know about.

TAKE ACTION: Please take a moment to contact Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and ask him to NOT include Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) in the Senate's completely unrelated $1.2 Trillion omnibus spending bill.  Please call  (202) 224-3934 or send an email via  http://inouye.senate.gov/Contact/ContactDKI.cfm.

Also, please contact Senator Tester and let him know that you strongly disapprove of his FJRA, as written, and his underhanded tactics to get it passed.  The fact is that FJRA never made it out of the Senate ENR Committee, never made it to the floor of the Senate and was never even introduced in the US House.  Secretly attaching it to an unrelated, must-pass $1.2 Trillion spending bill is disgraceful.   Please call (202) 224-2644 or send an email via: http://tester.senate.gov/Contact/

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Good News for Protecting and Recovering Bull Trout and their Habitat

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Oct 13, 2010 at 09:27:09 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

Threatened bull trout - and bull trout habitat - got some good news this week as the Obama Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greatly expanded protections for waterways critical to the restoration of threatened bull trout.

According to the AP:

The final rule issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service represented a major expansion of the streams, lakes and reservoirs protected as critical habitat for the fish, primarily on federal lands in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada, and a reversal of Bush administration policy on endangered species.

The new ruling protects 19,000 miles of streams, which is five times more than the 2005 rule, and 490,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs, which is more than three times greater than previously ordered. But the 754 miles of marine shoreline in Washington state was a reduction to make room for U.S. Navy testing grounds.

Faced with a lawsuit, Fish and Wildlife agreed last year to revise the 2005 critical habitat designation after an inspector general's report found it was among dozens of decisions improperly interfered with by former deputy assistant secretary of Interior Julie MacDonald, who resigned in 2007.

Montanans, and others, who value native fish and their habitat should celebrate this important critical habitat designation for bull trout. Much of the credit goes to two Montana-based organizations: Friends of the Wild Swan (sorry, no website) and Alliance for the Wild Rockies.  A chronology of the issue from 1985 to 2009 is available here.

You can bet the lobbyists and political supporters of the timber, mining and grazing industry will blast this designation of critical habitat for the threatened bull trout. After all, now logging, mining, grazing and oil and gas development projects on public lands will now have to more fully take bull trout, their habitat and their recovery, into account.

In the coming days and weeks, it will also certainly be interesting to see if Montana Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation and the Montana Wilderness Association support and celebrate the Obama Administration/USFWS's new bull trout critical habitat designations...or if these "Tester bill collaborators" will stand with their new friends in the timber industry in opposition to these new rules. Stay tuned....

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

New Report Questions Sen Tester's "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act"

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 07:24:02 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

A new report from one of the nation's leading National Forest policy experts - Dr. Martin Nie of the University of Montana's Bolle Center for People & Forests - provides an in-depth look at some of the key policy issues and concerns associated with so-called "Place-Based Legislation" in general, and Senator Tester's "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act," specifically.  The report and research was requested by the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service.  

Here's a snip from the report's conclusion (emphasis added):

...[T]here are significant problems to the place-based legislative approach to national forest management.  To begin with, the historical record of place-based forest law does not lend confidence to the approach in principle.  By most accounts, cases like the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Act have engendered more conflict and problems than the legislation has resolved.   This is mostly because these site-specific laws must somehow be paid for and then reconciled with the cumulative body of environmental laws that govern the national forests.  

These problems are not insurmountable, but Congress and the USFS should oppose forest-specific legislation until a number of more fundamental and systematic concerns are addressed.  Most important are the questions of how these laws would fit into the preexisting statutory/planning framework and how they would  be financed.  

If replicated more broadly, place-based legislation would disunify the National Forest System and create a number of problematic precedents.  Chief among these are legislated timber treatment mandates that would set the stage for future Congressional abuse.  If enacted into law, these mandates would also have the unintended consequence of jeopardizing fragile agreements and negotiations going on elsewhere; as some timber interests would certainly use this precedent as new leverage in their bargaining positions.  As one Congressional Staffer involved in a place-based negotiation says, if Senator Tester's timber supply mandate  gets through the gate, then he expects a similar sort of demand being made by the timber interests at his table.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Update on Sen Tester's FJRA from NewWest

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 09:51:01 AM MST

Today, NewWest.net's "Wild" Bill Schneider has an interesting article looking at the chances of a public lands omnibus bill coming out of the 111th Congress, and more specifically, what where Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act fits into that equation.

Schneider writes:

"It could be different this time around, but right now, it looks like another loss for Montana.

It all depends on Senator Jon Tester's willingness to change course on his beleaguered Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, S. 1470. Tester's bill has had a hearing before the same subcommittee, back on December 17, but the bill has yet to be reported out of committee because of major disagreement among subcommittee members on parts of the bill. The subcommittee won't report it out onto the floor in its present form, so it can't get in an omnibus bill, which means it has no chance of becoming law.

It's complicated, but in short, other subcommittee members and the U.S. Forest Service don't like Tester's mandated logging provisions, nor his special intrusions on the Wilderness Act of 1964 by allowing ATVs and helicopters in certain designated Wilderness areas. The committee suggested removing these provisions from S. 1470, but Tester refused."

Sure looks like Senator Tester and the collaborators should have taken more seriously the substantive concerns expressed for over a year now from many public lands conservation organizations in Montana and around the country, as well as from the Forest Service, Obama Administration, ENR Committee and a host of retired Forest Service chiefs and officials.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 409 words in story)

MT Lowdown: Tester to unveil new forest bill draft details Thursday

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Jun 16, 2010 at 15:08:12 PM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

According to John S. Adams at Montana Lowdown:

"Sen. Jon Tester will hold a conference call with reporters tomorrow [Thursday] morning to share details of a new draft of his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. It's not yet clear whether a full version of this latest draft will be available tomorrow or not."

As it stands right now, it sure seems as if the ENR Committee's draft (PDF Link available here) is far superior to Senator Tester's FJRA as originally introduced...so it will certainly be interesting to review the new FJRA draft coming from Senator Tester's office tomorrow.

It's unfortunate that Senator Tester proclaimed the ENR Committee's draft "Dead On Arrival."  In my view, the ENR Committee's draft is a giant step in the right direction and certainly worthy of consideration.  The fact of the matter is that the ENR Committee's draft would protect over 660,000 acres in Montana as Wilderness, which is one of the big goals we've heard touted by the collaborators.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 866 words in story)

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.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 684 words in story)

Earthjustice to Sen Tester: "We have serious concerns about certain provisions of S. 1470"

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Apr 23, 2010 at 05:15:24 AM MST

The full version of Earthjustice's letter to Senator Tester is available here

April 7, 2010

The Honorable Jon Tester
United States Senate
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2603

Dear Senator Tester:

On behalf of Earthjustice, we wish to comment on some key provisions of S. 1470, The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009. Earthjustice supports watershed restoration and protection of wilderness-quality lands in Montana and elsewhere.  Earthjustice also recognizes the work of many people, especially you and your staff, in drafting S. 1470.  However, we have serious concerns about certain provisions of S. 1470 that we urge you to address during any further consideration of the bill by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Our concerns involve the bill's mandate for mechanical treatment of timber on 70,000 acres of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and 30,000 acres in the Three Rivers Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest, as well as its constraints on compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Earthjustice is the nation's largest non -profit environmental law firm. Since our founding in 1971, we have provided legal representation at no cost to over 700 clients nationwide to protect our air, water, public lands, wildlife, and public health. Our Northern Rockies Office is located in Bozeman, Montana, where we have represented state, regional, and national environmental organizations in many cases to protect wildlife and public lands in Montana and the northern Rockies since 1993.

Full Letter Here

Additional information:
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act vs. The Wilderness Act: Analysis by Wilderness Watch - click here.
FJRA Comments from Members of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign - click here.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sen Tester's FJRA vs The Wilderness Act

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Apr 20, 2010 at 07:39:09 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

What follows is the official testimony from Montana's Wilderness Watch to the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests regarding Senator Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 1470).   For those who don't know, Wilderness Watch's executive director George Nickas is easily one of America's most foremost and respected experts when it comes to the Wilderness Act and Wilderness management and policy.

The following information represents an easy to understand comparison between the Wilderness Act and current Wilderness policy versus certain Wilderness provisions within the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, S.1470.

In order to allow all members of the public easy access to this information, please note that the page numbers below correspond to the exact page numbers of the bill, available for download right on Senator Tester's website.

Thank you. - MK

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 2129 words in story)

Brandborg: Tester Logging Bill Threatens Our National Forests

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 07:42:30 AM MST

Stewart M. Brandborg, a fourth-generation Montanan, is a founding member of the Last Best Place Wildland Campaign. "Brandy" grew up in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, where his father served as the Supervisor of the Bitterroot National Forest from 1935 to 1955.  Brandy spent over a decade researching wildlife in the Bob Marshall, Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness areas and he was later employed as a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service and state wildlife agencies in Montana and Idaho. From 1964 to 1976, Brandborg served as executive director of The Wilderness Society.   Brandborg played an instrumental roll in the passage of America's Wilderness Act in 1964 and other landmark public land legislation, including groundwork for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. - mk

Tester Logging Bill Threatens Our National Forests
By Stewart M. Brandborg

I am a fourth-generation Montanan who grew up in a U.S. Forest Service family.  Guy Brandborg, my father, served as Supervisor of the Bitterroot National Forest from 1935 to 1955.  I still fondly remember Gifford Pinchot, during one of his last western trips, visiting my father in front of our fireplace.  And, I still marvel at Bob Marshall's one-day hike from White Cap Creek on the Selway River up and over the Bitterroot Divide down Boulder Creek in time to join my family around the dining room table for supper.

After earning my Masters degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management in 1951, I worked over 12 years as a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service and state wildlife agencies in Montana and Idaho.

I was associated over 20 years with The Wilderness Society, including serving as its executive director from 1964 to 1976.  In these years, I was privileged to advocate for the protection of our public lands legacy, presenting the case for wildland preservation across the nation.  During my tenure, the U.S. Congress passed landmark public lands legislation, including the Wilderness Act of 1964, and laid the groundwork for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

For 70 years now, I have been involved with public lands issues.  With this background, it is with deep personal concern that I share serious reservations about Sen. Jon Tester's Logging and Recreation Bill, S. 1470.

Despite the best intentions of Senator Tester, this ill-advised measure, as written, poses a serious threat to our National Forests and other publicly-owned lands. Specifically, the logging mandated by S. 1470 is unprecedented and represents an unscientific override of current forest planning, leading the head of the Forests Service to tell the Senate Committee at last December's hearing that the logging levels in S. 1470 are unachievable and unsustainable.

I also agree with the Forest Service that unfunded mandates in this bill would result in other National Forests in Montana and the region having their funds raided to support excessive logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge.  The Forest Service described this serious concern as "balkanization" of our national forest system.

The Tester bill is described by supporters as the product of collaborative effort that brought all stakeholders together in its drafting.  In fact, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge portion of the bill was originally conceived and contrived by a few logging mills and a few conservation groups.

The initial deliberations of the Beaverhead Partnership excluded major players - the US Forest service, local county governments, watershed and irrigation interests, local and state land, wildlife, and wilderness interests, and a broad segment of other user groups - who have concern for the long-term protection of our National Forests.

Back in September, I, with a delegation including scientists and a retired Forest Service ranger, met with Senator Tester's staff in an attempt to improve the bill. While we appreciated the meeting, our suggestions and concerns have been ignored.  Unfortunately, this appears to be typical treatment of those concerned about S. 1470. If you support the bill, you are welcomed into the collaboration. If you have concerns with the bill, too bad. This is not how America's public lands should be managed.

If Congress were to endorse Senator Tester's bill as written, over 100 years of federal resource protection laws, set in place through the bipartisan actions of 50 Congresses, could be overridden by any interest group that gains the ear of any Congressman or Senator. We need not open this Pandora's Box of special loopholes and subsidies for a handful of corporations.  We need not forsake our remaining public wild lands heritage.

There are plenty of needed, well-paying forest jobs in road reclamation, watershed restoration and replanting with native species.  These forest restoration jobs promote steady flows of pure water for improved wildlife habitat, better fishing and hunting, irrigation and community water supplies and continued sustainable harvests from our fiber producing lands.  Fuels reduction projects within community protection zones will, based upon best available science, most efficiently and effectively protect homes and lives while providing even more jobs.

In years past, Congress responded to the voice of the American people and protected our public lands legacy from raids by special interest groups.  I hope we can stop Senator Tester from breaking up America's National Forest system for local commercial interests.

Stewart M. Brandborg lives in the Bitterroot Valley with his wife, Anna Vee.  In 2001 he received the Robert Marshall Award, - The Wilderness Society's highest honor - for his notable influence on American's Wilderness legacy.

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GAO: USFS Fuel Reduction Projects 98% Litigation-Free

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 09:03:20 AM MST

( - promoted by Jay Stevens)

Yesterday, the General Accounting Office (GAO) - the non-partisan investigative  arm of Congress - issued a brand new report titled, "Information on Appeals, Objections, and Litigation Involving Fuel Reduction Activities, Fiscal Years 2006 through 2008." According to the report, 98% of Forest Service fuel reduction projects (and more than 99% of the acreage) were implemented without any litigation.
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Report: Battling forest beetles may be counter-productive

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Mar 03, 2010 at 08:18:07 AM MST

Note: This new report on bark beetles is the latest research which counters much of the fear-based, unscientific rhetoric we're heard from Senator Tester and supporters of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act regarding the bark beetle issue here in Montana.

DENVER - Forest ecologists warned leaders today that plans to log beetle-killed trees in remote backcountry, instead of implementing fuel reduction efforts directly adjacent to communities, will not make people safe and will squander scarce tax dollars. 

A new scientific report released today suggests that bark beetle outbreaks will not lead to greater fire risk, and that tree thinning and logging is not likely to alleviate future large-scale epidemics of bark beetle. The report's findings apply to millions of acres of lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests across North America. 

The report also indicates that tree cutting in designated roadless areas protected under the national 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule is not likely keep communities safe from wildfire, according to "Insects and Roadless Forests: A Scientific Review of Causes, Consequences and Management Alternatives." The report is based on years of field research and a comprehensive scientific literature review and is available online at http://nccsp.org.

Report authors also suggest that the limited funds available to mitigate fire risk for vulnerable communities would be most effective if used to create defensible space around homes, including using flame retardant building materials and removing brush and trees within several hundred feet of homes. 

Additionally, any building of temporary or permanent roads in roadless areas to combat beetle outbreaks could have substantial "short- and long-term ecological costs," the report's authors found. Those costs could include damage to wildlife and water, increased wildfire risk and the introduction of invasive species. 
 
The National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, an Ashland, Ore.,-based nonprofit organization, is releasing the report. Its authors include professors at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., and Clark University in Worcester, Mass., along with experts at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Ore., and the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy.

The report's release comes as the West continues to face the worst outbreak of beetles in centuries. In recent years, bark beetle outbreaks have killed millions of acres of lodgepole pines throughout the West with Colorado at the epicenter. 
 
"Drought and high temperature are likely the overriding factors behind the current bark beetle epidemic in the western United States," said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and lead author of the report. "Because logging and thinning cannot effectively alleviate the overriding effects of climate, it will do little or nothing to control these outbreaks."
 
Insect outbreaks and fires are a natural part of the ecology of western forests. And the report found no causal link between insect outbreaks and the incidence of wildfires. It also suggests that insect outbreaks in backcountry forests and roadless areas are unlikely to heighten fire risk in adjacent communities. 
 
"Fires in lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests, such as those found in Colorado, are primarily determined by weather conditions," said Dominik Kulakowski, a professor of Geography and Biology at Clark University. "The best available science indicates that outbreaks of bark beetles in these forests have little or no effect on fire risk, and may actually reduce it in certain cases." 
 
The report also suggests, "tree-cutting is not likely to control ongoing bark beetle outbreaks." Nor will it be "likely to alleviate future large-scale epidemics," according to the report.

The report's findings come as Colorado officials move to finalize a plan to be considered by the U.S. Forest Service that would exempt the state from the 2001 national rule. The Colorado plan, while protecting some roadless areas, would allow new road construction and timber-cutting to battle beetles and to reduce fire-risk from insect infected trees.

Colorado is one of two states that has pursued a state-based approach to protect its roadless areas. That is an option the Bush administration created in the wake of its rollback of the 2001 roadless rule, which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last year. The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently reviewing a separate challenge of the 2001 rule. 

According to report authors, the 2001 national rule allows sufficient flexibility to protect roadless backcountry while allowing local land managers to address public health and safety concerns, including fire. 
 
"The science is clear. Unless preventive measures are aimed at creating defensible space around homes, the federal government will be shoveling taxpayer money down a black hole," said Dominick DellaSala, a report author and president and chief scientist for the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy. "Logging in the backcountry will do little to prevent insect infestations or reduce fire risks, and it will not solve Colorado's concerns over dying trees. 
 
"Colorado's pristine roadless areas are best protected for their clean water and unbridled fish and wildlife recreational opportunities," DellaSala said.

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