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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
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.

Indy Feature: The stubborn Brandborgs and the fight for wilderness

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 07:06:49 AM MST

As if on que from recent blog discussions here and elsewhere...Today's Missoula Indy includes this feature story about the Bitterroot Valley's Stewart Brandborg and his father Guy.  (Full Disclosure: Stewart is a dear friend, mentor, hero and inspiration. - mk):

Like an oak:
The stubborn Brandborgs and the fight for wilderness

by Jessica Mayrer


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Wilderness and Overpopulation

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:01:10 AM MST

(The following essay was written by Howie Wolke, a Montana-based wilderness guide/outfitter and long-time advocate for wilderness and other wild habitats. Wolke is the author of two books, "Wilderness on the Rocks" and "The Big Outside," which he co-authored with Dave Foreman. This essay originally appeared on the blog of Wilderness Watch - mk.)

Nobody knows how many species inhabit this lovely green planet, but estimates range from 10 to 30 million. Yet just one of these species, Homo sapiens, now consumes or otherwise utilizes over half of the plant biomass produced each year on Earth, funneling it into an ever-expanding human population plus related support structures and activities.

Nearly 7 billion humans are creating the greatest mass extinction event since the late Cretaceous Era, when an asteroid crashed into the Earth. As the Earth's human population grows at the rate of about 76 million additional humans per year, we alter the Earth's climate, deplete its fisheries, pollute its atmosphere, oceans, rivers and soils, and continually carve civilization into its remaining wild habitats. Overpopulation is at the root of nearly all of our problems, yet few work to tame this beast. That includes the U.S. government, which has no population policy.

Here in the United States, we are slowly increasing automotive fuel economy and building better energy efficiency into new structures. Renewable energy industries are growing. Yet in 2010, we spewed out more carbon and methane than ever before. Why? It's simple. The technological gains are being overwhelmed by population growth (over 300 million and increasing).

Historically, as humanity grows and spreads, true wilderness has been the first thing to go. Forest are cut, soils plowed, prairies and deserts fenced and over-grazed, rivers dammed, and various habitats are dug up and drilled for oil, gas, coal and metals. Also, millions of miles of roads and highways dissect the landscape. And of course, cities and suburbs sprawl across the planet, gobbling up habitat like a hungry teen-ager gobbles up lunch.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 580 words in story)

Did Sen Tester forget that he already re-introduced his logging bill?

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Feb 24, 2011 at 08:54:54 AM MST

The Tuesday, February 22, 2011 edition of the Missoulian included this article, which detailed Senator Tester's talk at the annual Salish Kootenai College Career Fair in Pablo.

According to the article:

In response to other questions from the crowd, Tester also said:

• His Forest Jobs and Recreation Act will likely be re-introduced soon, probably attached as an amendment to another bill because it is Montana-specific, and Congress otherwise would not get around to considering it. "We'll drop it in very soon, probably without much fanfare," Tester said. "We've already been through that part, and had the fanfare."

It's very strange that Senator Tester would claim that his so-called Forest Jobs and Recreation Act will likely be re-introduced soon. Why?  Because the truth of the matter is that Senator Tester has already, in fact, re-introduced his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

According to the official website of the Library of Congress (which tracks all federal bills), the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act was re-introduced by Senator Tester on Feb 3, 2011 (three weeks ago) and was "Read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources."  Tester's mandated logging bill has been given bill number "S.268," so anyone can view the bill language for themselves by visiting this site doing a search via the bill number.

It's worth pointing out that the current version of the FJRA that Senator Tester has introduced this session of Congress differs from his original bill in a number of significant ways.  However, it unfortunately seems very clear that Senator Tester will not be looking to hold a Senate hearing on the new version of his bill. Nope, it seems clear that Senator Tester will again try the questionable maneuver of attaching his  FJRA as a rider to a piece of unrelated, must pass legislation, such as the upcoming appropriations bills.

Perhaps this the reason why Senator Tester said he doesn't want much "fanfare" for his mandated logging bill this session of Congress? Perhaps this is why he told the folks up in Pablo that his bill wasn't re-introduced yet, when in fact it was already re-introduced on February 3, 2011? Did Senator Tester forget he already re-introduced the bill?

What hasn't change in this session of Congress are the serious, substantive concerns expressed by many Montanans - as  well as Americans - with  Senator Tester's FJRA. Concerns and opposition has come from not only  the 50 plus conservation organizations (including 16 from Montana) that make up the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, but also conservation groups such as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife,  Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - some of the most respected environmental groups in our nation. Concerns have also been  expressed publicly from some of the former Chiefs of the Forest Service and a host of former Forest Service supervisors and district rangers.

Despite some minor changes, Senator Tester's FJRA bill would still  have members of Congress mandating how and where logging takes place in  our forests; would turn some of Montana's federal wildlands (including  Wilderness Study Areas protected in the late 1970s by former Montana Senator Lee Metcalf) into permanent motorized recreation areas; would allow motors and other  non-compatible uses in Wilderness and would cause negative impacts to the Forest Service budgets in our region.

The future of America's national forest legacy is much more important than blindly supporting some politician who apparently thinks the best way to manage America's public lands is through mandates and interference from Congress...but then forgets to tell a public gathering that the bill has already been reintroduced in Congress.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Badger-Two Med Travel Plan Upheld

by: NorthernFlicker

Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 21:47:29 PM MST

( - promoted by Rob Kailey)

Some good news came at the end of last week - Montana District Court Judge Haddon upheld the current travel plan which the USFS implemented over a year ago in the Badger Two Med region between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness east of the Continental Divide in NW Montana.  All arguments put forth by the plaintiffs who challenged the ban on motorized access were rejected. 

The decision can be challenged to the US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit. The Plaintiffs have 60 days.  

It will be good to have this matter settled so volunteers currently raising money and spending time on the defense of the travel plan could then put their time and money to restoring the region.  Weed control and healing the landscape are top priorities.  

You should see more press on this early next week.


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sen Tester: "extremists are extremists and I don't really care"

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:36:25 AM MST

Wow! So now our Senator Tester is simply resorting to crass name calling instead of actually addressing any of the substantive concerns with his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Incredible!

Here are the facts of the matter. Over the past two year many Montanans – as well as Americans – have expressed serious, substantive concerns with Senator Tester's FJRA. Substantive concerns included things like the mandated logging provisions, motors in Wilderness, negative impacts to Forest Service budgets in our region and turning some wildlands into permanent motorized recreation areas.

Concerns have come from not only the 50 plus conservation organizations (including 16 Montana organizations) that make up the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, but also conservation groups such as The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Concerns have also been expressed publicly by some of the former Chiefs of the Forest Service and a host of former Forest Service supervisors, district rangers and officials with direct knowledge of forest and wilderness management.

But "extremists are extremists and I don't really care," right Senator?

Here are some other specific substantive concerns with the Tester bill. Notice how Senator Tester and bill supporters don't seem to talk very much about these specifics.

Take, for example, the 229,710 acre West Pioneers Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA), which includes the 151,00 acre Metcalf Wilderness Study Area (WSA). What Sen Tester’s bill would do is turn 129,252 acres of this IRA into a permanent, motorized Recreation Management Areas (RMA). Seriously, do we really want politicians ignoring the USFS’s travel plans to just legislate where they want motorized recreation permanently permitted? Of course, our recommendation would be to designate the entire 151,000 acre Metcalf WSA as Wilderness and eliminate the permanently motorized RMA, returning the management of that area to USFS travel planning, where it belongs.

Or take, for example, what Tester’s bill would do to the West Big Hole IRA, a 213,987 acre area along the crest of the continental divide that provides linkages and connectivity between the Greater Yellowstone area and forests to the west and north. The Tester bill would turn just 44,084 acres of this IRA into two small, far-apart Wilderness Areas while turning much of the IRA into a single, large, permanent, motorized National Recreation Area (NRA) totaling 94,237 acres. The large NRA would be twice as large as the two proposed Wilderness areas together and access to these two proposed Wilderness areas would be forced to use the motorized NRA trails.

Those are just two examples contained in the bill. I can provide more examples if anyone likes. However, it's hardly an "extremist" point of view to want to protect the Wilderness Study Area legacy set aside by former Montana Senator Lee Metcalf in the late 1970s.

While Senator Tester likes to say this is a jobs bill for the timber industry, new home construction in America is down 70% and overall US wood consumption is down 50%. Just where are all these forests Senator Tester wants cut down going to end up?

And while Senator Tester says in a recent article that the Forest Service "needs some different tools," the fact is that the Forest Service ended 2009 with more timber volume already under contract to loggers and mills in our region than any point in the last decade. The Forest Service in Montana also has more logging, thinning, fuel reduction and restoration projects in the pipeline than at any point in recent memory.

Politicians and Congress stepping in to mandate more public lands logging in this context is irrational. Furthermore, Senator Tester giving the newly elected GOP majority in the US House cover to introduce their own bills mandating more logging, oil and gas development, mining and grazing on federal public lands in their own states is irresponsible and threatens America's public lands legacy.

It sure seems as if Senator Tester has decided to re-introduce his FJRA without listening to these substantive concerns and without making the required changes to his bill. If he wants to introduce a true Wilderness bill and create some recreation areas, OK. Let's start an open, inclusive and transparent process to get that done. After all, Congress is the only way to designate more Wilderness.

However, despite the rhetoric from Senator Tester and the "collaborators," the Forest Service currently has all the tools they need to complete logging, fuel reduction and restoration. That's always been the case. Ask any forest supervisor or district ranger in Montana and they will tell you the same thing. They have all the tools they need. What's missing is a market for lumber and paper products (because of the Great Recessions) and funding from Congress to complete needed restoration work (because of trillion dollar wars and tax breaks for millionaires).

Plus, didn't we just have 8 years (2001-2009) of the Forest Service under the control of former timber lobbyist Mark Rey and President George W. Bush, where at every opportunity the skids were greased for more logging? They signed into law the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, they passed executive orders for the Healthy Forest Initiative allowing categorical exclusions (less environmental review, less public input, etc) for all kinds of logging and fuel reduction projects, etc.

I'm sorry, but it's just an ignorant statement – or a bald-face lie – to tell the public that we need politicians to step in and mandate logging on America's public lands or else nothing will get done. Any look at the actual current program work of the Forest Service in Montana and our region proves this point.
Discuss :: (30 Comments)

Video: Tester speaks to forest bill failure

by: Matthew Koehler

Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 08:42:30 AM MST

The blog over at the Missoula Independent includes this post, which links to a speech Senator Tester gave this past Saturday regarding his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

One thing that stood out was Senator Tester repeating the notion that his bill was "popular with over 70% of Montanans."  Here's some info which calls into question the validity of that statement.

The FJRA has been written about and debated extensively here at LiTW over the past few years. A sampling of some of these articles may be found here.
Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Fact Checking the FJRA Poll Numbers

by: Matthew Koehler

Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 09:04:03 AM MST

(Alternative title could be: "When is a Poll Not a Poll and When Do 16-Month-Old Survey Results No Longer Matter?")

FYI: This was just sent to all Montana media outlets. -mk


Yesterday you likely received a "Fact Check" memo from Kristi Ponozzo of the Montana Wilderness Association on behalf of the Montana Forest Coalition.

The first item on that memo (pasted below) included the results of an internal messaging survey members of the Montana Forest Coalition commissioned and paid for.  I would like to tell you a little more information about that messaging survey.

First, the memo you received never identified the fact that the date of the survey was August 2009, over 16 months ago.  There is a reason the memo didn't include this simple fact.  Over the past year and a half many Montanans have had an opportunity to read the actual language of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and, upon learning more about what the bill would actual do, many Montanans from all walks of life have expresses serious concerns and raised substantive questions about the bill.  

This begs the question: Is it really accurate or honest to drag out a survey from 16 months ago in an attempt to supposedly demonstrate current public opinion? I mean, what if the Democratic Party sent you a press release today proclaiming "Poll shows Obama Approval Rating at 80% 69%?" After all, in February January 2009 this was President Obama's approval rating.   

Second, when the results of this survey were originally made public through a release from Montana Trout Unlimited in August 2009,  Montana Outdoor Writer Bill Schneider wrote an article, Secrecy Clouds Credibility of Poll on Tester’s Wilderness Bill.

In that article Mr. Schneider stated:  "I made two formal requests to coalition leaders to see the actual wording of the questions and get information about the sample polled, but they flatly refused to release anything or even talk on the record about the poll, how it was done or who paid for it. Plus, I know at least two others in the media who made similar requests."

Even more revealing, in that same article Mr. Schneider wrote:

"I know these surveys cost money and those who pay for them consider them proprietary. And I can see that some of the scientific methodology that goes into survey being proprietary, but the wording of the questions?  I was told that the coalition primarily intended to use the poll internally to see what arguments against the bill might be sticking and which ones were lost in the public wind. If this is the main purpose of the poll, no problem, but that isn’t how the coalition used it. The coalition quickly sent out a press release applauding the positive results. As soon as this happened, in my mind at least, it ceased to be an internal document."

So as you can clearly see, the people who commissioned this survey openly admitted to Mr. Schneider it wasn't an objective, scientific poll of public opinion. Rather it was an internal survey to figure out which talking points worked for them or which ones didn't work quite as well.

A few months later, on October 27, 2009, Bill Schneider was finally provided the exact wording of the survey question and he wrote another article with this update:

"Question No. 7. Back on September 4, [2009] I devoted my column to the secrecy surrounding a poll conducted by the coalition of green groups and timber companies pushing Tester’s wilderness bill. I’d made several requests to have the exact wording of poll’s questions released before posting that column, but the coalition refused. Since then, after a pint of microbrew and a few more emails, Matt McKenna – who also works with former President Bill Clinton, now has his own communication firm in Bozeman called Jackson Creek and has been recently hired to speak for the coalition – decided to release the exact wording of the key question....Here’s the exact wording of question. You make your own judgment as to whether it biases the results.

Q 7. Let me briefly describe the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which would do the following:

    * Create jobs in Montana by directing the Forest Service to use light-on-the-land logging and forest restoration projects aimed at improving forest health and reducing forest fire risk;

    * Employ forest stewardship contractors to restore Montana’s damaged streams, forest roads, campgrounds and trails;
    * Guarantee that motorized vehicles will have access to designated recreation areas;
    * Protect Montana’s wildlife habitats and watersheds by designating certain places as Wilderness areas in the Beaverhead Deer Lodge, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests.

Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act that I just described?"

Notice that when Mr. Schneider was finally provided a copy of the question, after waiting nearly two months, the question was actually identified as Question No. 7. Having been personally involved with a few of these messaging/talking points surveys over the years, I can assure you there were 6 similar questions about this issue prior to Question No. 7, and perhaps there were even a few questions, which followed Question No. 7.  

This is important because apparently those who commissioned this survey liked the fact that the specific wording of Question No. 7 garnered the greatest support (73%).

Now again, that's all well and fine if the coalition wanted to use that information to form their own talking points. However, as Mr. Schneider pointed out above: "the coalition primarily intended to use the poll internally to see what arguments against the bill might be sticking and which ones were lost in the public wind. If this is the main purpose of the poll, no problem, but that isn’t how the coalition used it. The coalition quickly sent out a press release applauding the positive results."

This begs many questions. For example, did, perhaps, questions 1-6 push those surveyed to the results in Question No. 7? Were there other questions and messaging talking points similar to Question No. 7 that didn't garner as much support? And if so, why weren't those results made public?

To my knowledge, no scientific, objective poll regarding the public's support or opposition of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act has actually been conducted.  And with the information presented here I hope you will see that it's less than accurate and honest for the Montana Wilderness Association and Montana Forest Coalition to send out on December 15, 2010 an August 2009 internal messaging survey to supposedly demonstrate current public support or opposition to the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Matthew Koehler


From Kristi Ponozzo:

Regarding the popularity of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act:

According to Harstad Research, 73% of Montanans surveyed said they favored Sen. Tester’s legislation, based on a description that the legislation will:

* Create jobs in Montana by directing the Forest Service to use light-on-the-land logging and forest restoration projects aimed at improving forest health and reducing forest fire risk;

* Employ forest stewardship contractors to restore Montana’s damaged streams, forest roads, campgrounds and trails;

* Guarantee that motorized vehicles will have access to designated recreation areas;

* Protect Montana’s wildlife habitats and watersheds by designating certain places as Wilderness areas in the Beaverhead Deer Lodge, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests.
Discuss :: (7 Comments)

BREAKING: Dems Abruptly Drop Omnibus Spending

by: Matthew Koehler

Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 19:38:58 PM MST

Note: Senator Tester's mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, was attached to this massive $1.3 Trillion omnibus spending bill, which now appears dead, according to breaking news out of DC.
Democrats abruptly drop spending fight
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON | Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:24pm EST

SNIPS:  Democrats abruptly abandoned a fight over spending on Thursday and said they would instead extend government funding on a temporary basis, a move that gives Republicans a greater chance to enact the deep cuts they have promised.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said nine Republicans had agreed to back the bill, which likely would have given him enough votes to pass it. But Republican support evaporated in recent days, he said.

"In reality we only have one choice, and that's a short term" funding bill, Reid said on the Senate floor.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Get the Lowdown on Tester's Logging Bil

by: Matthew Koehler

Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 18:04:05 PM MST

As you may have heard, Senator's Tester's "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act" was attached to the Senate's $1.3 Trillion (and growing) omnibus spending bill.

Basically, Senator Tester has managed to attached his bill to this completely unrelated trillion-dollar-plus spending bill, which, it's my understanding, must pass by this weekend, or the federal government will shut down and you won't get your that Christmas card from Aunt Donna in Monday's mail, among other inconveniences.

By far, the most comprehensive collection of documents, releases, quotes, charts and comments related to Senator Tester's bill is at the MT Lowdown blog of John S. Adams, the Great Falls Trib's capital bureau chief.  I'd encourage everyone to spend some time over there, review the information and share your opinions. This is an important issue.

My views views on this issue have been well documented over the past few years.  Many Montanans have expressed serious, substantive concerns with  this bill, including the mandated logging provisions, motors in Wilderness and turning some wildlands into permanent motorized recreation areas.  That's a major reason why the bill 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.

Instead of honestly listening to these concerns, Senator Tester apparently decided to work behind the scenes to attach a different version of his bill to this completely unrelated $1.3 trillion spending bill that's nearly 2000 pages long.  It's unfortunate that Senator Tester has chosen such a course.
Discuss :: (12 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.

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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.

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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

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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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