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Montana To Consider Bill Protecting Fish Habitat and Forest Jobs

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December 11, 2009

Montana To Consider Bill Protecting Fish Habitat and Forest Jobs

By Tim Romano

Our friends over at Trout Unlimited alerted us to this bill making it's way through the Montana Senate right now.

Trout Unlimited, The Montana Wildlife Federation, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership all have announced support of a bill for the state of Montana called the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester.

“This bill has broad support from hunters and anglers, simply because it keeps irreplaceable fish and game habitat intact,” said Tom Reed, a TU field director based in Bozeman. “The bill is a product of thoughtful compromise and represents the best possible relief for Montana’s long wilderness drought. By protecting habitat in perpetuity, the bill protects our rights to fish and hunt on public land in Montana for generations to come.”

"The bill, which would designate as wilderness some of the best...

...fish and wildlife habitat in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Lolo and Kootenai national forests, as well as ensure marketable timber harvests in areas where forest health is an issue, will get a hearing in a Senate subcommittee next week, and could move to the full Senate for a vote in early 2010."

“This bill, which strongly reflects Sen. Tester’s support of ‘home grown’ Montana solutions developed through extensive collaborative efforts, would protect wild places, restore miles of currently impaired fish habitat and improve thousands of acres of habitat to support a rich diversity of wildlife species,” said Tim Aldrich, president of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “This is all good for hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiast, and it also provides a lifeline for struggling forest products businesses that are important in Montana.” 

Any Montana anglers out there? As locals what are you hearing about the bill? Are there anglers or hunters apposed to the legislation? Why?

TR

Comments (15)

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from wilderness wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

KEEPING IT WILD!
IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA'S PUBLIC WILDLANDS

United by our common understanding that Montana's wild country is its greatest treasure;
And, that once degraded or impaired, this wild country can never be restored or replaced;
And, cognizant of Thoreau's belief that "In wildness is the preservation of the world;"
And, schooled by Aldo Leopold who long ago warned that wilderness can only shrink and not grow;
And, keenly aware of the definition of wilderness in the Wilderness Act of 1964 as being "untrammeled by man," where "man himself is a visitor who does not remain;"
And, fully recognizing that the Northern Rockies ecosystem is the only functioning ecosystem in the lower 48 states where all native species still reside;
And, being of one mind in our desire and determination to protect and preserve what remains of our public wildlands to the greatest extent possible;
We hereby state our intention to work together to achieve the most inclusive and comprehensive protection under the law for all remaining publicly-owned de facto wilderness in Montana.

In full affirmation of the above and, after having been unsuccessful in our earnest efforts to improve Sen. Tester's so-called "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act," or "S. 1470," we must now unanimously oppose this bill.
The bases for our opposition are exhaustively catalogued in separate analyses and papers, but we submit this foundational document to concisely articulate our chief objections. They are as follows:

1. The Tester bill specifically eliminates from mandated protection large portions of the late Senator Lee Metcalf's wildlands legacy, Congressionally designated as Wilderness Study Areas in 1977 by his farsighted bill, S. 393. By eliminating this protection, the Tester bill opens these priceless public wildlands for road building, logging, and other development.

2. The Tester bill undermines the overwhelmingly popular Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative. Over one million acres of federally-inventoried roadless wildlands protected under the Roadless Rule and the Roadless Initiative would be classified as "Timber Suitable or Open to Harvest."

3. The Tester Bill surrenders decisions about our national forests to a handful of local bureaucrats and extraction-oriented corporations, thereby promoting fragmentation of America's national public lands legacy into locally controlled fiefdoms.

4. The Tester bill undermines the National Environmental Policy Act by imposing unrealistic and arbitrary requirements that preclude the Forest Service from accurately assessing environmental impacts of road building, logging, habitat loss, water degradation, weed infestation, and other costs of developing public wildlands.

5. The Tester bill mandates unsustainable logging quotas regardless of environmental costs, thereby jeopardizing safeguards provided public lands by the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Wilderness Act, and Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

6. In its effort to isolate decisions to log wildlands from national attention, the Tester bill disenfranchises public lands stakeholders, by overriding legitimate science-based forest planning that involves full public information and participation. It deprives the public of our rights to be included in irreversible decisions concerning our own land.

7. The Tester bill mandates cutting at least 100,000 acres over 10 years. It dictates at least 7,000 acres be logged per year for 10 years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. In recent years, the Forest Service has set its sustainable cut level for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest at 500 acres per year. In past years, when the Forest Service was dedicated to "getting the cut out," an average of 3,213 acres per year was logged, from 1954 to 1996, in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. On the Three Rivers Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest, Tester's bill mandates logging of 3,000 acres per year for 10 years in fragile Yaak grizzly bear habitat, already severely damaged by decades of overcutting. While logging at least 100,000 acres would be compulsory, the Tester bill contains no accompanying mandates for restoration, leaving all post-logging reclamation and forest restoration optional.

8. The Tester bill fails to address at least $100 million in costs to U.S. taxpayers that would be incurred by the Forest Service for subsidizing "below-cost" timber sales and power plants for the few specially-privileged timber corporations involved. The bill interferes with free enterprise by mandating that five favored private mills be subsidized with perpetual supplies of national forest trees, at huge economic costs to taxpayers. The bill ignores the financial realities that the United States currently face: Economic crises and a lumber "depression," with new home construction down 70 percent and demands for lumber down 55 percent.

9. By forcing unsustainable industrial-scale logging upon our public lands, the Tester bill would irrevocably harm essential habitat of species that characterize the wild nature of the northern Rockies, such as the gray wolf, bull trout, cutthroat trout (Montana's official state fish), otter, mountain goat, mountain sheep, elk, arctic grayling, northern goshawk, boreal owl, pileated woodpecker, ferruginous hawk, Montana vole, sage thrasher, wild bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, pine marten, fisher, lynx, wolverine, and grizzly bear (Montana's official state animal).

10. The "wilderness" areas in the Tester bill are fragmented and unconnected islands of largely "rocks and ice," with limited biological integrity and no potential for sustaining biodiversity. The minimal "wilderness" designated in the bill fails to protect different elevation habitats and their dependent species with core areas, buffer zones, and connecting biological corridors. The bill promotes numerous abuses that are clearly in violation of the 1964 Wilderness Act, including motorized access into and through "wilderness," military aircraft landings in "wilderness," possible "wilderness" logging, and other intrusions that violate the principles of Wilderness.

Due to these severe deficiencies, we intend to see that the Tester bill is not endorsed by Congress. Instead, we will constructively stand for a scientifically-sound, ecologically-based Wilderness Bill that preserves the greatest amount of our priceless and rapidly-vanishing public roadless wildlands in Montana.

We, the following, are conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, Wilderness preservation, and the sound long-term management of our federal public lands legacy. Our coalition includes small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, health care practitioners, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, craftspersons, and community leaders - all stakeholders committed to America's public wildlands legacy.

Brought to you by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign

For more information, go to: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/

Thank you!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

This is a great bill for hunters and anglers. The above post has some valid points that highlight the need for reform in forest planning and deficiencies in federal protections for public lands.
That aside, this wilderness proposal is a win for sportsmen. We're talking nearly half a million acres of prime hunting and fishing land preserved for future generations. Opposing a positive step forward because you don't agree with every single detail is playing politics with our public lands.
Some enviro groups might be willing to fall on their swords over the details, but most sportsmen are willing to take a win like this whenever they can get one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Koehler wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I'd encourage folks who are interested in this issue to visit this site: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/

At this site you can not only read the bill and see maps, but you can also read a line-by-line analysis of what the bill actual does (or doesn't do), read commentary from Phd economists and PhD forest policy experts and even send a comment into the US Senate about the bill.

The site is from The Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, a coalition of conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, Wilderness preservation, and the sound long-term management of our federal public lands legacy.  Our coalition includes small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, 4th and 5th generation Montanans, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, former loggers and mill workers, health care practitioners, craftspersons, and community leaders  – all stakeholders committed to America’s public wildlands legacy.

I'm a Montanan that hunts, fishes, hikes, explores and enjoys our backcountry and Wilderness as much as anyone. As such, I'd encourage folks to actually get informed about this bill and question whether Congress mandating logging levels on the BHDL NF that are more than double the historic average at a time when lumber demand is down 55% and new home construction is down 70% actually makes any sense.

The following 40 plus conservation organization's have also signed onto our Keeping It Wild! In Defense of America's Wildlands document:
http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/keeping-it-wild-in-defense-...

Alliance for the Wild Rockies (MT)
Big Wild Advocates (MT)
Buffalo Field Campaign (MT)
Conservation Congress (MT)
Deerlodge Forest Defense Fund (MT)
Friends of the Bitterroot (MT)
Friends of the Rattlesnake (MT)
Friends of the Wild Swan (MT)
Swan View Coalition (MT)
Western Montana Mycological Association (MT)
Western Watersheds Project (MT)
Wilderness Watch (MT)
WildWest Institute (MT)
Allegheny Defense Project (PA)
Bark (OR)
Big Wildlife (OR)
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (WY)
Buckeye Forest Council (OH)
Caney Fork Headwaters Association (TN)
Cascadia Wildlands (OR)
Clearwater Biodiversity Project (ID)
Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice (TN)
Dogwood Alliance (NC)
EcoLaw Massachusetts  (MA)
Ecosystem Advocates (OR)
Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (CA)
Green Press Initiative (MI)
Friends of Bell Smith Springs (IL)
Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades (OR)
Friends of the Clearwater (ID)
Heartwood (IN)
John Muir Project (CA)
Kentucky Heartwood (CA)
League of Wilderness Defenders (OR)
Native Forest Council (OR)
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, United Church of Christ (TN)
Protect Arkansas Wilderness! (AR)
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (DC)
RESTORE the North Woods (ME)
Selkirk Conservation Alliance (WA)
Umpqua Watersheds (OR)
Utah Environmental Congress (UT)
Western Lands Project (WA)
WildEarth Guardians (NM)
WildSouth (NC)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Bader wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

As a subscriber to Field & Stream, I can say I think the Tester Bill will be generally harmful to fish and wildlife habitat and hunting. It opens up more than 2 million acres of national forest land in Montana to mandated logging levels. These mandated levels are far higher than what the professionals with the Forest Service have estimated is sustainable for fish and wildlife and other values. It also institutes local control over national forest management when these lands belong equally to all Americans, not just those living next door.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Lance Olsen wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I was reading your magazine back when it had Robert Ruark's great series, The Old Man and The Boy, so I'm glad to see Field & Stream taking a look wildlife and wilderness issues in my part of the world. Like your other readers over the years, my interests in fishing, hunting and just being out there make me pay attention whenever habitat questions come up.

Senator Tester's bill seems to be something close to the old ink blot test. Different readers come away thinking it says different things. I suppose there's bound to be some of that. People differ in many ways, and we don't all see things the same way.

But Tester's bill gets differing reviews even from within the same group -- environmentalists. Some environmental groups are all for it. Others are very skeptical of it. And, even in the skeptical camp, for example, one Montana skeptic whose opinion I was eager to see said Tester's bill didn't seem to threaten much new roadbuilding in roadless areas. But an Idaho skeptic whose opinion I was just as eager to see saw risk that Tester's bill
could open a million or so acres to the 'dozer and grader.

Then, when Tom Power (retired longtime chairman of economics at the University of Montana) read the bill, he concluded that it isn't easy to know what it would do. Power said it needs to watch its wording, and to change it in the direction of being clear.

Being as interested as I am in the likes of cutthroats and muleys, I'd appreciate some clarity m'self.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bordetella wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

The hunting and fishing are there and preserved for future generations.You just have to enter the wilderness.The support of this bill comes from a interest in those roads.But where would you go to be in the wilderness?With the building market down and it will be for many years.Road projects are coming,but the money spent on this proposal would be better spent on developing new industries and extending unemployment claims.I understand that a road has its benifit to those on all sides of the issue. If the proposed bill is poorly worded and overreaching with its intent it could do far more damage to hunting and fishing than just putting in a road.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

wow, wilderness- the tester bill is not perfect but to describe the Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative as "overwhelmingly popular" would not be a statement of fact here in MT. in might have been applauded by the enviros, but not the folks who live here. what website did you cut and paste your so well-thought-out propaganda?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

wow, wilderness- the tester bill is not perfect but to describe the Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative as "overwhelmingly popular" would not be a statement of fact here in MT. in might have been applauded by the enviros, but not the folks who live here. what website did you cut and paste your so well-thought-out propaganda?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Matthew Koehler,

The phrase "You ain't from around here, are you?" came to mind as I googled the list of opponents to the bill you provided.

You could have saved a lot of time by just typing "Every Tree Hugging Organization West of the Mississippi" rather than name the 40 organizations against the bill. I didn't google all of them but enough to know they are not organizations with the interest of outdoorsman at heart. Oh and by the way, Ashley Judd is not our friend.

You see Matthew we are outdoorsman. We are the original conservationist. Nearly everything this country has to offer for the outdoormans is because of us, hunters and fisherman. Though we both desire the same outcome, clean water and healthy forest, hunters and fisherman understand that nature is a give and take. Rather than tie ourselves to trees to protest them from being cut down we, as outdoorsman, make sure we cut down the right tree.

I respect the hard work of the organizations you have listed but I, speaking only for myself, prefer to manage a forest rather then watch the trees fall over and rot.

wilderness,

I read your post...twice. Do you know it says nothing? You emphasize your points with well placed adjectives but fail to provide any facts. It's like yelling at a child and not telling them what they did wrong. Uh?

Though I don't live in Montana I thought I'd chime in. I didn't want 3 hours googling this to go to waste.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Koehler wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

@ Buckhunter:

The phrase, "These public lands belong equally to all American's" came to mind as I read the opening line of your post, which appears directed at me personally, rather than an honest discussion of the bill and its merits.

Also, you seem to just ignore the 13 Montana-based conservation groups that form the core of our coalition, as well as the Montana citizens who are small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, 4th and 5th generation Montanans, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, former loggers and mill workers, health care practitioners, craftspersons, and community leaders  – all stakeholders committed to America’s public wildlands legacy.

Buckhunter said, "You see Matthew we are outdoorsman."

Well, you see, "Buckhunter," I'm as much of an "outdoorsman" as you are...and I have a freezer full of elk, deer and fish to prove it. But is the direction you really want to take this discussion about Tester's logging bill? Make it all about "I'm a bigger outdoorsman than you are?" Talk about childish.

Buckhunter, if my post "says nothing" then why do you spend all your time trying to discredit it? You claim I "failed to provide any facts"...so apparently lumber demand being down 55% and new home construction being down 70% aren't really facts that relate to a mandated logging bill?

And apparently a line-by-line analysis of the actual bill we're talking about here isn't of interest to you? So be it, but other people in Montana and across America may actually be interested in learning what's really in this bill. So, again, I'd encourage them to visit: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com

Finally, "prairieghost" might be interested to know the fact that of the 17,429 Montanans who commented on Clinton's Roadless Rule, 78% were in favor of backcountry protection. That's from the official EIS for the Roadless Rule. Thanks.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Matt,

There is never anything personal from me. I apologize if I upset you. I respect your zeal but after researching the groups that you state oppose the bill I found myself flooded in activist websites.

I'm happy to hear your hunting season went well.

I'll type more tonight. I gotta run right now.

I'm happy

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from The Great White... wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I think buck makes a good point. Activist have a history of opposing sound management practices to further their own agenda.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Matt,

After careful research and some luck I have found exactly what I supected. It's not the fact that you do not agree with the bill as much as you were not involved in the process or had a say in the matter.

From reading countless articles from many Montana newspapers, which strangely enough all favor the bill, I came across your comment. (pasted below). Ya gotta love the internet!

It would appear you opposed the bill before you even read it. Typical activist behavior and what I figured all along. Do you think there is a reason the Senator did not want you to be involved? I have also notice that many many voices were heard while forming this bill and very few voices were totally pleases. This shows me that Tester was more interested in doing the right thing than pleasing one group. Also, I have to repect the fact that the bill was made in Montana by Montanans for Montanans.

By Matthew Koehler, 7-09-09

Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 12:59
To: "Stone-Manning, Tracy (Tester)" ,
,
"Swanson, Dayna (Tester)"
From: Matthew Koehler
Subject: Tester's Staff: We're still waiting for you to break the silence

Hello Tracy and Matt:

I'd just like to point out that the silence, secrecy and shenanigans from Senator Tester's office continues regarding your Wilderness/Logging legislation, as we still haven't been given a copy of the legislation. This is despite repeated requests all week long and yesterday's promise from someone in your DC office that we'd at least be given maps of the Beaverhead part of your secret proposal.

Your spokesperson's notion that once your secret legislation is introduced into Congress "It will be the beginning of the process, not the end" is insulting to everyone. Do you really think that anyone believes that average, ordinary Montanans and Americans will have more of a say in this legislation once it goes to DC?

Please stop the secrecy and the smoke blowin' and open up this process to a broad-cross section of Montanans and Americans, who are the rightful owners of these public lands. All your folks have done is served to reward the secret, selective, exclusive nature of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership. That's not the way we do things in Montana, even if one of the big Beaverhead Partnership promoters happens to be Tracy's former boss.

Thanks,

Matthew Koehler
WildWest Institute

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Sounds good, really good! Keeping it wild has been a problem for the government in recent years, and this kind of bill is just what we needed. It would be a nightmare for anglers if the Madison river was built on and polluted. Good job, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American sportsman need organizations like you!

-Good post, I needed something positive, this really did brighten up my day!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Mike wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Unfortunately, Monday's announcement that Stone Container will permanently close the Frenchtown Mill not only means 417 good paying jobs will be lost, it also cast a large shadow over what's left of the logging industry here in Western MT.

Simply put, we just can't compete with Chinese loggers clear cutting flat Russian forests.

Senator Tester's bill would do a lot of good things for our forests, but mandating unsustainable logging practices is not only irresponsible, it's now impractical. There are simply no buyer's for those logs.

This bill was a good effort in compromise, but in the end it will be killed not by environmental activist, but by the market.

Meanwhile, local conservation groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Five Valleys Land Trust, and many others continue to do the real work that benefits our fish and wildlife day in and day out.

The tester bill was a good effort... Close, but no cigar.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pacific Hunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

While this bill is not a perfect peice of legislation it is a step in the right direction in regaurds to correct management of forests and ulitmately bettering landscapes which benefit all wildlife, not just game species. The impact on streams caused by irresponsible logging can be detrimental but current logging practices have been shown to have a less than a 1% effect on population #'s in salmonids if done within correct guidlines, I apologize for not being able to provide that citation on the spot. I posses two B.S. degrees, one in Biology and a second in Natural Resources, I have made my carrer working for timber companies, state wildlife management agencies and am currently working in the non-profit sector of wildlife conservation. I can say definitively that the opposition to this comes from preservation groups, not conservation groups. If you look to some of the first conservationist, whose names are commonly thrown around by extreme preservationists, they promoted multiple use approaches to national forests. For those that have studied the history of wildlife management the success's took place in conjunction with the management of forests not the "let nature work her course" approach. We have altered the landscape to the point that natural processes cannot take place in the historic cyclical patterns. To ensure the healthiest ecosystems, management of forests is required. The scare tactics being employed and even the citations being pointed out on this blog are not relevant to the national forest land this legislation is directed towards. Indeed Montanan's oppose the development of back country but that is not what this bill is doing. They are not trying to punch logging roads into the Wilderness Areas they are trying to promote the correct management of historically managed lands. The preservation groups are supporting the idea of turning hostorically managed lands into wilderness via the Obama roadless rule. Look to your Aldo Leupold quote, "Wilderness cannot be created". Take this opportunity to embrace a bill which allows for better management practices of forest lands, if a disease or insect, such as the pine beetle, wipes out an entire forest. Wilderness or roadless designation prevents removing and containing the dead or dying timber. This leads to catastrophic fires which leaves the land unsuitable for any fish, wildlife, timber...everything. We need to find a middle ground yet the preservationists have none. When I have some time I will post the Clinton rule and then the Obama rule there are some interesting facts worth pointing out that in Clinton's the preservationist agreed but then when Obama took office they went back on their agreement and are pushing for more designations that were intentionally removed from the Clinton version in collaboration. But as of late collaboration seems to be a word that is equated to land destruction by preservationists.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report

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from wilderness wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

KEEPING IT WILD!
IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA'S PUBLIC WILDLANDS

United by our common understanding that Montana's wild country is its greatest treasure;
And, that once degraded or impaired, this wild country can never be restored or replaced;
And, cognizant of Thoreau's belief that "In wildness is the preservation of the world;"
And, schooled by Aldo Leopold who long ago warned that wilderness can only shrink and not grow;
And, keenly aware of the definition of wilderness in the Wilderness Act of 1964 as being "untrammeled by man," where "man himself is a visitor who does not remain;"
And, fully recognizing that the Northern Rockies ecosystem is the only functioning ecosystem in the lower 48 states where all native species still reside;
And, being of one mind in our desire and determination to protect and preserve what remains of our public wildlands to the greatest extent possible;
We hereby state our intention to work together to achieve the most inclusive and comprehensive protection under the law for all remaining publicly-owned de facto wilderness in Montana.

In full affirmation of the above and, after having been unsuccessful in our earnest efforts to improve Sen. Tester's so-called "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act," or "S. 1470," we must now unanimously oppose this bill.
The bases for our opposition are exhaustively catalogued in separate analyses and papers, but we submit this foundational document to concisely articulate our chief objections. They are as follows:

1. The Tester bill specifically eliminates from mandated protection large portions of the late Senator Lee Metcalf's wildlands legacy, Congressionally designated as Wilderness Study Areas in 1977 by his farsighted bill, S. 393. By eliminating this protection, the Tester bill opens these priceless public wildlands for road building, logging, and other development.

2. The Tester bill undermines the overwhelmingly popular Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative. Over one million acres of federally-inventoried roadless wildlands protected under the Roadless Rule and the Roadless Initiative would be classified as "Timber Suitable or Open to Harvest."

3. The Tester Bill surrenders decisions about our national forests to a handful of local bureaucrats and extraction-oriented corporations, thereby promoting fragmentation of America's national public lands legacy into locally controlled fiefdoms.

4. The Tester bill undermines the National Environmental Policy Act by imposing unrealistic and arbitrary requirements that preclude the Forest Service from accurately assessing environmental impacts of road building, logging, habitat loss, water degradation, weed infestation, and other costs of developing public wildlands.

5. The Tester bill mandates unsustainable logging quotas regardless of environmental costs, thereby jeopardizing safeguards provided public lands by the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Wilderness Act, and Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

6. In its effort to isolate decisions to log wildlands from national attention, the Tester bill disenfranchises public lands stakeholders, by overriding legitimate science-based forest planning that involves full public information and participation. It deprives the public of our rights to be included in irreversible decisions concerning our own land.

7. The Tester bill mandates cutting at least 100,000 acres over 10 years. It dictates at least 7,000 acres be logged per year for 10 years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. In recent years, the Forest Service has set its sustainable cut level for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest at 500 acres per year. In past years, when the Forest Service was dedicated to "getting the cut out," an average of 3,213 acres per year was logged, from 1954 to 1996, in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. On the Three Rivers Ranger District of the Kootenai National Forest, Tester's bill mandates logging of 3,000 acres per year for 10 years in fragile Yaak grizzly bear habitat, already severely damaged by decades of overcutting. While logging at least 100,000 acres would be compulsory, the Tester bill contains no accompanying mandates for restoration, leaving all post-logging reclamation and forest restoration optional.

8. The Tester bill fails to address at least $100 million in costs to U.S. taxpayers that would be incurred by the Forest Service for subsidizing "below-cost" timber sales and power plants for the few specially-privileged timber corporations involved. The bill interferes with free enterprise by mandating that five favored private mills be subsidized with perpetual supplies of national forest trees, at huge economic costs to taxpayers. The bill ignores the financial realities that the United States currently face: Economic crises and a lumber "depression," with new home construction down 70 percent and demands for lumber down 55 percent.

9. By forcing unsustainable industrial-scale logging upon our public lands, the Tester bill would irrevocably harm essential habitat of species that characterize the wild nature of the northern Rockies, such as the gray wolf, bull trout, cutthroat trout (Montana's official state fish), otter, mountain goat, mountain sheep, elk, arctic grayling, northern goshawk, boreal owl, pileated woodpecker, ferruginous hawk, Montana vole, sage thrasher, wild bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, pine marten, fisher, lynx, wolverine, and grizzly bear (Montana's official state animal).

10. The "wilderness" areas in the Tester bill are fragmented and unconnected islands of largely "rocks and ice," with limited biological integrity and no potential for sustaining biodiversity. The minimal "wilderness" designated in the bill fails to protect different elevation habitats and their dependent species with core areas, buffer zones, and connecting biological corridors. The bill promotes numerous abuses that are clearly in violation of the 1964 Wilderness Act, including motorized access into and through "wilderness," military aircraft landings in "wilderness," possible "wilderness" logging, and other intrusions that violate the principles of Wilderness.

Due to these severe deficiencies, we intend to see that the Tester bill is not endorsed by Congress. Instead, we will constructively stand for a scientifically-sound, ecologically-based Wilderness Bill that preserves the greatest amount of our priceless and rapidly-vanishing public roadless wildlands in Montana.

We, the following, are conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, Wilderness preservation, and the sound long-term management of our federal public lands legacy. Our coalition includes small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, health care practitioners, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, craftspersons, and community leaders - all stakeholders committed to America's public wildlands legacy.

Brought to you by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign

For more information, go to: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/

Thank you!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matthew Koehler wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

@ Buckhunter:

The phrase, "These public lands belong equally to all American's" came to mind as I read the opening line of your post, which appears directed at me personally, rather than an honest discussion of the bill and its merits.

Also, you seem to just ignore the 13 Montana-based conservation groups that form the core of our coalition, as well as the Montana citizens who are small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, 4th and 5th generation Montanans, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, former loggers and mill workers, health care practitioners, craftspersons, and community leaders  – all stakeholders committed to America’s public wildlands legacy.

Buckhunter said, "You see Matthew we are outdoorsman."

Well, you see, "Buckhunter," I'm as much of an "outdoorsman" as you are...and I have a freezer full of elk, deer and fish to prove it. But is the direction you really want to take this discussion about Tester's logging bill? Make it all about "I'm a bigger outdoorsman than you are?" Talk about childish.

Buckhunter, if my post "says nothing" then why do you spend all your time trying to discredit it? You claim I "failed to provide any facts"...so apparently lumber demand being down 55% and new home construction being down 70% aren't really facts that relate to a mandated logging bill?

And apparently a line-by-line analysis of the actual bill we're talking about here isn't of interest to you? So be it, but other people in Montana and across America may actually be interested in learning what's really in this bill. So, again, I'd encourage them to visit: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com

Finally, "prairieghost" might be interested to know the fact that of the 17,429 Montanans who commented on Clinton's Roadless Rule, 78% were in favor of backcountry protection. That's from the official EIS for the Roadless Rule. Thanks.

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from Matthew Koehler wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I'd encourage folks who are interested in this issue to visit this site: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/

At this site you can not only read the bill and see maps, but you can also read a line-by-line analysis of what the bill actual does (or doesn't do), read commentary from Phd economists and PhD forest policy experts and even send a comment into the US Senate about the bill.

The site is from The Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, a coalition of conservation organizations and citizens dedicated to wildlands protection, Wilderness preservation, and the sound long-term management of our federal public lands legacy.  Our coalition includes small-business owners, scientists, educators and teachers, 4th and 5th generation Montanans, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, wildlife viewers, outfitters and guides, veterans, retired Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials, ranchers and farmers, former loggers and mill workers, health care practitioners, craftspersons, and community leaders  – all stakeholders committed to America’s public wildlands legacy.

I'm a Montanan that hunts, fishes, hikes, explores and enjoys our backcountry and Wilderness as much as anyone. As such, I'd encourage folks to actually get informed about this bill and question whether Congress mandating logging levels on the BHDL NF that are more than double the historic average at a time when lumber demand is down 55% and new home construction is down 70% actually makes any sense.

The following 40 plus conservation organization's have also signed onto our Keeping It Wild! In Defense of America's Wildlands document:
http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/keeping-it-wild-in-defense-...

Alliance for the Wild Rockies (MT)
Big Wild Advocates (MT)
Buffalo Field Campaign (MT)
Conservation Congress (MT)
Deerlodge Forest Defense Fund (MT)
Friends of the Bitterroot (MT)
Friends of the Rattlesnake (MT)
Friends of the Wild Swan (MT)
Swan View Coalition (MT)
Western Montana Mycological Association (MT)
Western Watersheds Project (MT)
Wilderness Watch (MT)
WildWest Institute (MT)
Allegheny Defense Project (PA)
Bark (OR)
Big Wildlife (OR)
Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (WY)
Buckeye Forest Council (OH)
Caney Fork Headwaters Association (TN)
Cascadia Wildlands (OR)
Clearwater Biodiversity Project (ID)
Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice (TN)
Dogwood Alliance (NC)
EcoLaw Massachusetts  (MA)
Ecosystem Advocates (OR)
Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (CA)
Green Press Initiative (MI)
Friends of Bell Smith Springs (IL)
Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades (OR)
Friends of the Clearwater (ID)
Heartwood (IN)
John Muir Project (CA)
Kentucky Heartwood (CA)
League of Wilderness Defenders (OR)
Native Forest Council (OR)
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, United Church of Christ (TN)
Protect Arkansas Wilderness! (AR)
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (DC)
RESTORE the North Woods (ME)
Selkirk Conservation Alliance (WA)
Umpqua Watersheds (OR)
Utah Environmental Congress (UT)
Western Lands Project (WA)
WildEarth Guardians (NM)
WildSouth (NC)

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from Mike Bader wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

As a subscriber to Field & Stream, I can say I think the Tester Bill will be generally harmful to fish and wildlife habitat and hunting. It opens up more than 2 million acres of national forest land in Montana to mandated logging levels. These mandated levels are far higher than what the professionals with the Forest Service have estimated is sustainable for fish and wildlife and other values. It also institutes local control over national forest management when these lands belong equally to all Americans, not just those living next door.

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from Lance Olsen wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I was reading your magazine back when it had Robert Ruark's great series, The Old Man and The Boy, so I'm glad to see Field & Stream taking a look wildlife and wilderness issues in my part of the world. Like your other readers over the years, my interests in fishing, hunting and just being out there make me pay attention whenever habitat questions come up.

Senator Tester's bill seems to be something close to the old ink blot test. Different readers come away thinking it says different things. I suppose there's bound to be some of that. People differ in many ways, and we don't all see things the same way.

But Tester's bill gets differing reviews even from within the same group -- environmentalists. Some environmental groups are all for it. Others are very skeptical of it. And, even in the skeptical camp, for example, one Montana skeptic whose opinion I was eager to see said Tester's bill didn't seem to threaten much new roadbuilding in roadless areas. But an Idaho skeptic whose opinion I was just as eager to see saw risk that Tester's bill
could open a million or so acres to the 'dozer and grader.

Then, when Tom Power (retired longtime chairman of economics at the University of Montana) read the bill, he concluded that it isn't easy to know what it would do. Power said it needs to watch its wording, and to change it in the direction of being clear.

Being as interested as I am in the likes of cutthroats and muleys, I'd appreciate some clarity m'self.

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from Pacific Hunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

While this bill is not a perfect peice of legislation it is a step in the right direction in regaurds to correct management of forests and ulitmately bettering landscapes which benefit all wildlife, not just game species. The impact on streams caused by irresponsible logging can be detrimental but current logging practices have been shown to have a less than a 1% effect on population #'s in salmonids if done within correct guidlines, I apologize for not being able to provide that citation on the spot. I posses two B.S. degrees, one in Biology and a second in Natural Resources, I have made my carrer working for timber companies, state wildlife management agencies and am currently working in the non-profit sector of wildlife conservation. I can say definitively that the opposition to this comes from preservation groups, not conservation groups. If you look to some of the first conservationist, whose names are commonly thrown around by extreme preservationists, they promoted multiple use approaches to national forests. For those that have studied the history of wildlife management the success's took place in conjunction with the management of forests not the "let nature work her course" approach. We have altered the landscape to the point that natural processes cannot take place in the historic cyclical patterns. To ensure the healthiest ecosystems, management of forests is required. The scare tactics being employed and even the citations being pointed out on this blog are not relevant to the national forest land this legislation is directed towards. Indeed Montanan's oppose the development of back country but that is not what this bill is doing. They are not trying to punch logging roads into the Wilderness Areas they are trying to promote the correct management of historically managed lands. The preservation groups are supporting the idea of turning hostorically managed lands into wilderness via the Obama roadless rule. Look to your Aldo Leupold quote, "Wilderness cannot be created". Take this opportunity to embrace a bill which allows for better management practices of forest lands, if a disease or insect, such as the pine beetle, wipes out an entire forest. Wilderness or roadless designation prevents removing and containing the dead or dying timber. This leads to catastrophic fires which leaves the land unsuitable for any fish, wildlife, timber...everything. We need to find a middle ground yet the preservationists have none. When I have some time I will post the Clinton rule and then the Obama rule there are some interesting facts worth pointing out that in Clinton's the preservationist agreed but then when Obama took office they went back on their agreement and are pushing for more designations that were intentionally removed from the Clinton version in collaboration. But as of late collaboration seems to be a word that is equated to land destruction by preservationists.

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from GregMc wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

This is a great bill for hunters and anglers. The above post has some valid points that highlight the need for reform in forest planning and deficiencies in federal protections for public lands.
That aside, this wilderness proposal is a win for sportsmen. We're talking nearly half a million acres of prime hunting and fishing land preserved for future generations. Opposing a positive step forward because you don't agree with every single detail is playing politics with our public lands.
Some enviro groups might be willing to fall on their swords over the details, but most sportsmen are willing to take a win like this whenever they can get one.

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from Bordetella wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

The hunting and fishing are there and preserved for future generations.You just have to enter the wilderness.The support of this bill comes from a interest in those roads.But where would you go to be in the wilderness?With the building market down and it will be for many years.Road projects are coming,but the money spent on this proposal would be better spent on developing new industries and extending unemployment claims.I understand that a road has its benifit to those on all sides of the issue. If the proposed bill is poorly worded and overreaching with its intent it could do far more damage to hunting and fishing than just putting in a road.

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Matthew Koehler,

The phrase "You ain't from around here, are you?" came to mind as I googled the list of opponents to the bill you provided.

You could have saved a lot of time by just typing "Every Tree Hugging Organization West of the Mississippi" rather than name the 40 organizations against the bill. I didn't google all of them but enough to know they are not organizations with the interest of outdoorsman at heart. Oh and by the way, Ashley Judd is not our friend.

You see Matthew we are outdoorsman. We are the original conservationist. Nearly everything this country has to offer for the outdoormans is because of us, hunters and fisherman. Though we both desire the same outcome, clean water and healthy forest, hunters and fisherman understand that nature is a give and take. Rather than tie ourselves to trees to protest them from being cut down we, as outdoorsman, make sure we cut down the right tree.

I respect the hard work of the organizations you have listed but I, speaking only for myself, prefer to manage a forest rather then watch the trees fall over and rot.

wilderness,

I read your post...twice. Do you know it says nothing? You emphasize your points with well placed adjectives but fail to provide any facts. It's like yelling at a child and not telling them what they did wrong. Uh?

Though I don't live in Montana I thought I'd chime in. I didn't want 3 hours googling this to go to waste.

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Matt,

There is never anything personal from me. I apologize if I upset you. I respect your zeal but after researching the groups that you state oppose the bill I found myself flooded in activist websites.

I'm happy to hear your hunting season went well.

I'll type more tonight. I gotta run right now.

I'm happy

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from The Great White... wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I think buck makes a good point. Activist have a history of opposing sound management practices to further their own agenda.

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from coho310 wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Sounds good, really good! Keeping it wild has been a problem for the government in recent years, and this kind of bill is just what we needed. It would be a nightmare for anglers if the Madison river was built on and polluted. Good job, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American sportsman need organizations like you!

-Good post, I needed something positive, this really did brighten up my day!

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from Big Mike wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Unfortunately, Monday's announcement that Stone Container will permanently close the Frenchtown Mill not only means 417 good paying jobs will be lost, it also cast a large shadow over what's left of the logging industry here in Western MT.

Simply put, we just can't compete with Chinese loggers clear cutting flat Russian forests.

Senator Tester's bill would do a lot of good things for our forests, but mandating unsustainable logging practices is not only irresponsible, it's now impractical. There are simply no buyer's for those logs.

This bill was a good effort in compromise, but in the end it will be killed not by environmental activist, but by the market.

Meanwhile, local conservation groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Five Valleys Land Trust, and many others continue to do the real work that benefits our fish and wildlife day in and day out.

The tester bill was a good effort... Close, but no cigar.

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from prairieghost wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

wow, wilderness- the tester bill is not perfect but to describe the Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative as "overwhelmingly popular" would not be a statement of fact here in MT. in might have been applauded by the enviros, but not the folks who live here. what website did you cut and paste your so well-thought-out propaganda?

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from prairieghost wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

wow, wilderness- the tester bill is not perfect but to describe the Clinton Roadless Rule and Obama Roadless Initiative as "overwhelmingly popular" would not be a statement of fact here in MT. in might have been applauded by the enviros, but not the folks who live here. what website did you cut and paste your so well-thought-out propaganda?

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from buckhunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Matt,

After careful research and some luck I have found exactly what I supected. It's not the fact that you do not agree with the bill as much as you were not involved in the process or had a say in the matter.

From reading countless articles from many Montana newspapers, which strangely enough all favor the bill, I came across your comment. (pasted below). Ya gotta love the internet!

It would appear you opposed the bill before you even read it. Typical activist behavior and what I figured all along. Do you think there is a reason the Senator did not want you to be involved? I have also notice that many many voices were heard while forming this bill and very few voices were totally pleases. This shows me that Tester was more interested in doing the right thing than pleasing one group. Also, I have to repect the fact that the bill was made in Montana by Montanans for Montanans.

By Matthew Koehler, 7-09-09

Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 12:59
To: "Stone-Manning, Tracy (Tester)" ,
,
"Swanson, Dayna (Tester)"
From: Matthew Koehler
Subject: Tester's Staff: We're still waiting for you to break the silence

Hello Tracy and Matt:

I'd just like to point out that the silence, secrecy and shenanigans from Senator Tester's office continues regarding your Wilderness/Logging legislation, as we still haven't been given a copy of the legislation. This is despite repeated requests all week long and yesterday's promise from someone in your DC office that we'd at least be given maps of the Beaverhead part of your secret proposal.

Your spokesperson's notion that once your secret legislation is introduced into Congress "It will be the beginning of the process, not the end" is insulting to everyone. Do you really think that anyone believes that average, ordinary Montanans and Americans will have more of a say in this legislation once it goes to DC?

Please stop the secrecy and the smoke blowin' and open up this process to a broad-cross section of Montanans and Americans, who are the rightful owners of these public lands. All your folks have done is served to reward the secret, selective, exclusive nature of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership. That's not the way we do things in Montana, even if one of the big Beaverhead Partnership promoters happens to be Tracy's former boss.

Thanks,

Matthew Koehler
WildWest Institute

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