Go team, go!

Posted Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Montana has many treasures. Perhaps our most important long-term treasures are places like the North Fork of the Flathead, the "Bob," the Beartooths and the Mission and Swan ranges between which I live. Our elected representatives understand the long-term economic and social value of the wild and quiet places we are blessed with.

Congressman Daines is trying to do the right thing: pass bills that a vast majority of Montanans agree with, like the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. But partisan politics in D.C. are getting in the way.

Montanans value teamwork. We want our team of Sen. Baucus, Rep. Daines and Sen. Tester to work together for Montana. We don't' want people from states without our wild treasures to influence our team more than we do. I urge our team to pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, and the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. It's worth our best effort. Go team!

A. Lee Boman

Seeley Lake

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This is yet another canned, talking points inspired letter to the editor about public lands issues in Montana which demonstrates just how dangerous and naive the strategy of the Montana Wilderness Association to court Rep Daines really is.

Did anyone catch Rep Daines' recent column in the Missoulian in which Daines touts his own mandated logging bill to greatly increase logging of America's National Forests? If not, here it is:


Here are the facts and specifics which Rep Daines failed to provide about his mandated logging bill, the “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act.” After reading this information ask yourself if the Montana Wilderness Association is being honest and responsible by continuing to prop Daines up in public as some sort of a champion of public lands.

Daines bill would establish “Forest Reserve Revenue Areas” as a replacement for the current Secure Rural Schools (SRS) county payments program, simultaneously creating a legally-binding logging mandate with no environmental or fiscal feasibility limits, and reestablishing the discredited 25% logging revenue sharing system that was eliminated over a decade ago with the creation of SRS.

Furthermore, under Rep Daines' bill, public participation and Endangered Species Act protections would be severely limited. The bill creates huge loopholes in NEPA and such biased ESA requirements that in practice these laws would almost never meaningfully apply. For example, any project less than 10,000 acres (that’s 15.6 square miles) would be categorically excluded from environmental analysis and public participation, and the Forest Service would be required to submit a finding that endangered species are not jeopardized by any project, regardless of its actual effect on the species.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Montanans have heard one of our members of Congress promoting politically-mandated logging of America's National Forests. Remember, Senator Jon Tester has his very own mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

Of course, much of the “support” for Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill is being manufactured and orchestrated by the Montana Wilderness Association with the ample assistance of over 1/2 million dollars from the Pew Foundation’s Campaign for America’s Wilderness. That amount of money goes a long ways in a state like Montana, with collaborator environmental groups like the Montana Wilderness Association spending the money on internal focus groups, one-sided internal polling (which is presented to the public as independent and unbiased), “public” presentations where only supporters of the bill are allowed to present and plenty of TV, radio and newspaper ads flooding the state. All the while, Montana Wilderness Association staffers have engaged in a pattern of censorship and removal of any substantive comments on their social media sites which mention anything critical about Tester’s mandated logging bill.

This summer, Montana Wilderness Association staff have been heavily courting Rep Steve Daines (R-MT) to introduce Tester’s bill in the House. People may have noticed that the Montana Wilderness Association has been actively getting their members to submit glowing Letters to the Editor about how great Steve Daines is and how he should join Sen Tester and Sen Baucus to support mandated logging of national forests in Montana. This letter here from Ms. Linville is a perfect example.

At the beginning of summer, Missoulian opinion columnist (or would that be former Missoula Independent columnist?) George Ochenski wrote a piece titled, “Tester’s Forest Jobs Bill Plus Daines Bad for Conservation, and ended his piece with this prophetic statement:

“It’s a mystery why the conservation collaborators failed to understand these elementary principles of the legislative process. But if Tester’s bill ever clears the Senate – and Congressman Daines (R-MT) has his way in the House – they are about to learn a very hard and environmentally costly lesson. And more’s the pity for Montana.”

Well, here we are a few months following Ochenski’s dire warning to the environmental “collaborators” supporting Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill.

The Missoulian opinion piece by Rep Daines supporting his own version of a mandated logging bill – the ironically titled, "Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act" – gives people in Montana and across the country (especially those who value Wilderness and public lands) an indication of 1) just where Rep Daines wants to take national forest policy; and 2) just how irresponsible and naive the environmental “collaborators” are if they think Rep Daines will be their big Wilderness and public lands protection champion.

Obviously, while politically mandated logging of America’s national forests is a terrible, dangerous precedent for the environmental community to push for, it goes without saying that Rep Daines and the GOP would make the bad provisions within Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill that much worse, as evidence by Rep Daines and the GOP's own version of a mandated logging bill.

It will be interesting to see if any of the environmental “collaborators” at the Montana Wilderness Association supporting Tester’s mandated logging bill will actually rise up and speak out against Rep Daines mandated logging bill, or if they will remain silent about the specifics of Rep Daines mandated logging bill continue to generate favorable Letters to the Editor about Rep Daines on public lands issues. I'd bet the farm that Montana Wilderness Association will publicly remain silent about Daines mandated logging bill, while they continue to put pressure on Daines to support Tester's mandated logging bill. Seriously, how much more F-ed up can all this be?

For more detailed information, see: "Will Enviro Collaborators Support Rep Daines Mandated Logging Bill?"


Posted by Matthew Koehler on 08/08/2013 at 8:08 AM
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