Sen. Jon Tester’s Senate Bill 1470 represents irresponsible logging and motorized recreation on public lands. It undercuts the popular roadless rules, and by requiring excessive logging it clashes with environmental laws that public land agencies must obey. It usurps U.S. Forest Service authority by handing public lands management decision-making to locals and private interests, and it establishes unbalanced resource advisory committees by overriding an existing law prohibiting this.
The bill’s unprecedented mandated logging levels requires the Forest Service to cut 14 times the sustainable level identified in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Plan, plus 10 years of cutting in the Yaak, which is already over-cut, unconnected and too roaded to support biological diversity.
Logging acreage and timeframes are mandated; restoration levels and timelines are not. Montanans have repeatedly witnessed logging where restoration agreements were never implemented. Tester’s bill fails to require restoration completion; worse, “restoration” can be accomplished on any national forest in the United States. Montana sustains the damage while other states can get the “restoration.”
The bill’s new wilderness designations are pitifully small, isolated and exclude diverse elevation habitats. The bill’s road density language encourages increased logging in unroaded and less roaded areas of the forests.
Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), Montana’s irreplaceable legacy from the late Sen. Lee Metcalf, will be released and degraded under Tester’s bill, precluding wilderness designation. The illegal motorized intrusions in WSAs gets sanctioned. Instead of law enforcement, we get release language, rewarding law breakers. This is disgraceful!
If you care about public lands, read the bill.