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Trick or trout! So, a bull trout walks up to Rodd Richardson’s house on Halloween, knocks on the door and says “trick or treat.” Richardson, the supervisor of the Bitterroot National Forest, answers, “Have I got a treat for you.” He hands the bull trout a canning jar filled with dirty water full of silt from excessive logging. The bull trout drinks from the jar, gags when it clogs his gills and falls on the ground dead.

OK, it wasn’t really Richardson, it wasn’t really his house and it wasn’t a real bull trout. But it was Halloween, and environmentalists used the occasion to dress up as Richardson, a butterfly, an angler, a mushroom picker, a bull trout and other forest users and creatures of the forest. They staged a short skit out on the lawn in front of BNF headquarters last week to draw attention to a controversial logging proposal now awaiting Richardson’s decision. Even environmentalists want to have fun, it seems.

The actors were preaching to the choir, however, since environmentalists made up not only the players, but the audience as well. Forest Service employees, some of whom were also in costume, remained indoors where it was warmer.

Things turned serious when Friends of the Bitterroot member, Earth First! co-founder and fierce Forest Service critic Howie Wolke took the stage. “There’s nothing funny about Rodd Richardson’s timber sale,” he told the small crowd. “What’s going to happen to stream habitat ... to the snag-dependent birds and mammals ... to the hunting and the fishing … to the nutrient cycle ... to the forest’s ability to hold water in late summer? It’s nothing but the biggest timber sale in the history of the Bitterroot National Forest in the guise of forest recovery. It’s Rodd Richardson’s Waterloo.”

Richardson could not be reached for comment, but a forest spokesman said BNF officials respected the environmentalists’ right to assemble and speak freely.

Eating crow or just plain crowing? The Montana Republican Party issued an e-brief last week declaring victory in the propaganda war over the tumultuous issue of power deregulation. Citing the revised prediction that power rates will rise only 20 percent when dereg kicks in next year for residential customers (down from Montana Power’s 50 percent hike prediction last May), the brief took state Democrats soundly to task for their opportunism in making dereg a political weapon.

The memo then notes that the revised rate would cost customers an average of $10 per month, or, “as some Republican legislative leaders have said, ‘the price of a pizza.’” Continuing the clever analogy, the brief, under the heading “Republican Leaders Must Enjoy Only One Topping On Their Pizza,” goes on to state that since a survey of pizza joints revealed the price of a large, one-topping pie to be about $10, the GOP brass are obviously fans of the old one-tops, since “the price of a pizza with numerous toppings would amount to far greater than the actual projected increase.”

However, given reports that Montana Power customers will be paying higher electricity costs than nearly every other region in the Northwest, all that crowing by the GOP seems a bit misguided. So we’ll say thanks to the GOP for putting the issue in language we laymen can understand, but we’re sure not looking forward to the impending pizza crisis. More likely this one will burn the roof of our mouths.

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