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Two weeks ago, I posted a Wild Bill column about how the feud between wilderness groups stifling efforts to protect roadless lands. Both groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) and the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) were unhappy with what I said and the comment section filled up with many insightful reasons why green groups have such dissimilar approaches to protecting roadless lands. For the benefit of readers who might be still scratching their heads over why pro-Wilderness groups have such contradictory views on accomplishing a common goal, preserving Wilderness, I asked the executive directors of both groups to write a guest column to put it in their own words. Fortunately both Tim Baker of MWA and Michael Garrity of AWR agreed, so read on. -Bill Schneider

Ending the Wilderness Drought

Two weeks ago, I posted a Wild Bill column about how the feud between wilderness groups stifling efforts to protect roadless lands. Both groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) and the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) were unhappy with what I said and the comment section filled up with many insightful reasons why green groups have such dissimilar approaches to protecting roadless lands.

For the benefit of readers who might be still scratching their heads over why pro-Wilderness groups have such contradictory views on accomplishing a common goal, preserving Wilderness, I asked the executive directors of both groups to write a guest column to put it in their own words. Fortunately both Tim Baker of MWA and Michael Garrity of AWR agreed, so read on. -Bill Schneider

NREPA is Politically Viable

By Michael Garrity

The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on October 18, 2007 on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) H.R. 1975, sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) and 125 other Representatives. NREPA currently is the only wilderness bill that would affect Montana that has been introduced in Congress. NREPA will designate all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness; protect some of America’s most beautiful and ecologically important lands while saving taxpayers money and creating jobs.

To preserve the biological integrity of the Northern Rockies ecosystem, NREPA will designate as wilderness nearly 7 million acres of wilderness in Montana, 9.5 million acres of wilderness in Idaho, 5 million acres of wilderness in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in eastern Oregon, and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington on federal public land. Included in this total is over 3 million acres in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks.

The Northern Rockies is the only place in the lower 48 states where native species and wildlife are protected on lands that are virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark saw them. This is public land belonging to all Americans.

Science tells us that wildlife populations cannot survive for long periods of time on isolated islands of habitat. Without plentiful habitat, populations eventually become genetically weaken and suffer from inbreeding effects. NREPA addresses this problem through its establishment of biological linkage corridors of habitat that connect the core wildlands of the region into one functioning ecological whole, preserving the genetic diversity needed for longevity. The lands and waters upon which 59 species of threatened and endangered species depend are within the area covered by NREPA.

At the Congressional hearing, University of Utah Museum of Natural History Research Curator William Newmark testified that we are in the midst of the world’s sixth major extinction event and the only place in the world we have a chance of stopping this extinction is in western North America and ecosystem protection bills like NREPA is the most effective way of reducing species loss.

Some people in the environmental community concede NREPA is a good bill but it is not politically viable. These claims are made even though NREPA is supported by the Speaker of the House as well as the Chairman of the Natural Resources committee, the committee where all wilderness bills must pass through and we could easily have a pro-wilderness President elected in November. Instead, critics propose that we turn more roadless areas over to loggers. For example, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal would open up 200,000 acres of roadless land to be logged under the excuse that we have to make concessions to the timber industry. The problem is that not only are these roadless lands important for the long term survival of many species, but it would cost taxpayers millions.

The Forest Service’s budget shows that the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest loses over $1400 per acre when they log. To log 70,000 acres over the next ten years as the Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal requires would cost taxpayers $98 million.

NREPA offers a better way to create jobs. It establishes a pilot wildland recovery system. Over 6,000 miles of damaging or unused roads will be restored to roadless conditions, providing employment for over 2,000 workers while saving tax-dollars from subsidized development.

NREPA produces more jobs because of the habitat restoration work associated with wildland recovery areas. The costs of this work will be approximately $130 million over ten years. This cost is $245 million less than the $375 million projected net loss for logging these areas.

Moreover, the number of timber jobs will continue to decline with technological advancement. Capital intensive technology is the main cause of the fall in timber related employment, not lack of trees. Employment in the wood products industry in Montana peaked in 1979 when 11,606 employees cut and milled 1 billion board feet of timber. In 1989, the timber industry harvested a record amount of timber, almost 1.3 billion board feet, but only 9,315 people were employed. In 2006, 926 million board feet was cut and milled by 3,524 people. In the last 27 years employment has decrease 70% while timber production has only decreased 7%.

The Forest Service, in a 2000 report titled Water and the Forest Service, found that water originating from lands that NREPA would protect has a value of at least $1 billion. It makes no economic sense to lose hundreds of millions of dollars on logging that harms the most valuable commodity our forests produce, water.

NREPA saves taxpayers millions of dollars, creates more jobs, provides maximum protection for endangered species habitat, and improves the economic viability of the northern Rockies.

More information about the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act can be found at The bill can be found by clicking here

Michael Garrity is executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

Wilderness Can Bring Montanans Together

By Tim Baker

For 50 years, the Montana Wilderness Association has been making sure that Montanans have the opportunity to fight for those wild areas that deserve to be protected as wilderness. And for good reason.

Wilderness symbolizes American freedom at its best, preserving our values of self-reliance and independence. Where the pack trail begins, we not only find clear water and abundant wildlife, we find ourselves. Ask anyone who has spent a week hiking or horseback riding in the Bob Marshall. You’re not the same person when you’re done, and the lessons learned on the trail last the rest of your life.

To keep wilderness for future generations, Congress must come together and pass a law. Under the best of circumstances, this is a huge undertaking. Today, with Congress deeply divided and so many other significant issues on the table, it’s a minor miracle. To pass a wilderness bill there must be significant support among the state’s everyday citizens, as legislative tradition requires support of the state’s Congressional delegation.

Wilderness in Montana simply won’t happen without the support of Montanans.

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership is all about bringing Montanans together around a common vision for our forests, and building a future that includes wilderness. As Montanans representing five wood products companies and three conservation groups, together we’ve drafted legislation for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest that is centered on two primary objectives:

First, it would protect with wilderness designation the best wild public lands on the forest, for future generations to enjoy (560,000 acres, including 14 new wilderness areas).

Second, it would put Montanans to work by producing wood products using restoration-forestry, including activities that fix damaged habitat and recreational areas.

We’ve discussed our proposal, face to face, with many organizations, local governments, lawmakers, and countless individuals. Already, the Partnership approach has garnered the praise of statewide elected officials from both parties–not to mention the support of seven county commissions, and groups as diverse as the Montana Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Montana Logging Association.

Just as important as the Partnership proposal itself are the positive relationships we’ve developed with many other Montanans. This is a real Montana success story. This is how wilderness can happen.

It’s the story of the backcountry horseman, who wants to ride the traditional pack and saddle trails of the East Pioneers in solitude.

It’s the story of the millworker in Deer Lodge, who wants to earn a decent wage and live in a prosperous community with a good quality of life.

It’s the story of the angler on the Big Hole, who wants to know that native trout populations in southwest Montana are healthy.

This is a story of Montanans rolling up their sleeves and challenging each other to understand the other’s perspective.

And for this reason alone, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership has already been a huge success. But we’re not done, and legislation to make this vision a reality is our next step.

This is about building trust, and believing in the best part of human nature. No one interest will ever get all that it wants, but by working together we can achieve our most noble common goals: A healthier economy, robust forests, improved fish and wildlife habitat, enhanced recreational opportunities, reduced fire risk to communities, and permanent protection of Montana’s most beloved wild places.

This is also the story of the Montana Wilderness Association, which believes in the power of people and places, and recognizes that the New West will bring more challenges to wilderness, not fewer. It’s been 25 years since Congress designated new wilderness in Montana, and sometimes the best solution to a difficult problem is to leave the past and move forward. With the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership, wilderness is back where it belongs, in the Montana mainstream.

That this is happening in Montana shouldn’t be surprising to Montanans. After all, in the end most of us live here for the same reasons.

We all get shivers when we hear an elk bugle. We all smile in wonder when we watch a Charlie Russell sunset light up the sky. And we all have a favorite small town, even if we don’t live there.

As Montanans, we all love this special place we call home.

And, as Montanans, we all know, deep down, that the way forward is together, not apart.

Tim Baker is the Executive Director of the Montana Wilderness Association.

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  1. Personally, I think the approach used by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership gains far more political protection of wilderness than the NREPA approach. No legislation can protect wilderness. Legislation can be undone, even if it seems unlikely at this time. If we got in a severe energy crunch, Yellowstone’s thermal features could be opened to energy development, just like the North Slope in Alaska. Widespread public political support is the best defense.

    I think the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership opens so many more doors for cooperation and collaborative action on a wide range of topics. It creates the network for cross-pollination of ideas and sorting out workable solutions to community and regional problems. I am glad to see that the Wilderness Society got involved.

    NREPA may provide more restoration jobs than logging. But who is going to pay the cost of restoration? The government – i.e. your taxes? How does restoration work build or maintain community infrastructure? Does restoration create any product in the marketplace? Is it “Make Work” like multiple requests for proposals to work on the same area. On Bozeman’s North 19th and Babcock, that intersection was dug up and repaved about 10 times between 1999 and 2004. Each RFP did one thing – widen the road, install turn lanes, install fire hydrants, extend water and sewer to Baxter Meadows subdivision, install traffic lights. This is pork barrel financing to “create jobs” easily financed through “earmarks”. Is this what we will get from NREPA?

  2. So I read both. I can certainly see why a Montana based consensus group of diverse stakeholders would want to press their agenda, if only because it represents local interests who live with results. Not supporting a Carolyn Maloney/Chris Shays carpetbagger bill is a no brainer. For that to pass, elected officials from many States have to agree and support the proposal, one developed far away. Getting a handful of ducks in line is a realistic goal. Getting flocks of ducks lined up is not. So you have realism in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge hand, and NREPA idealism in the other.

    Or, as the old hooktender once told me, “Boy, you can wish inta’ one hand and crap in t’other, and one will fill up fast and the other never will.” And then he turned around, spat, and hollered at the punk to drop the rigging. I learned a lot working at the rape the wilderness, trying to let a little daylight into the swamp, slogging one day at a time towards eternity. I got kids and grandkids, and just like that logged over ground, boy how kids and trees do grow! The Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal addresses realism in that those people know that logged over ground, ground growing a new forest, is also habitat, and some of it better habitat than the tangle of trees there before logging. The Deerlodge proposal recognizes humans in the equation, as they have been on the land for 10,000 years or more, setting fires, killing game and each other, spreading seeds. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal for wilderness expansion has its ducks lined up, and has a way to keep them lined up. The Maloney/Shays bill is another carpetbagger deal without the broad local support to pass, enema legislation from ivory mini towers of BIgNGO Washinton DC. They can stand around in the halls of Congress after hours, sipping fine whiskey, fondling lobbying butts, and wax poetic about a Grand Wilderness in the West, and all the while the USFS Region 1 is planning to burn the whole of their proposed landscape, and have the job about a quarter done. The very same congressional folks are now cutting USFS budgets, reducing fire fighting funds, all the while selling the idea that Black is Beautiful, conflagration reduces fuels. Just what America wants, another burned to a crisp wilderness they can’t enter due to falling tree hazards, blocked trails, burned up signs (the porcelain ones of old were replaced with wood or aluminum or fiberglass—-deep thinkers, these USFS types).

    I live in Oregon, and NREPA seems to creep from the Northern Rockies into the Hells Canyon protected area of the Wallowa Mtns, once a part of the Siskiyous, and of no relation to the Rockies. NREPA just lays another layer on the onion of federal regulation and dysfunction, increasing the nose use area. Why would I ask my congressman or Senator to waste political capital on that, when the Mt. Hood Wilderness expansion with bipartisan instate elected support can’t get off the ground? Maloney and Shays can swive with their ideals and each other, sell their faux greenware to constituents, but they are going to find it hard to grow their reputations in my backyard. But I would write my congressional representation to support the Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal if Montana’s Big Three would support the Oregon delegation on the Mt. Hood expansion. A bird in hand is a hell of better deal than a hand in the Maloney/Shays bush.

  3. Wild Bill, thanks for another opportunity to discuss and learn about 21st Century Wilderness. H.R. 1975 addresses the most significant threats to roadless backcountry in the Northern Rockies. New additions to NREPA this (congressional) session include: “‘recommended” areas inside Yellowstone, Glacier and Teton National Parks, plus a commitment to mitigate the impacts of extended drought and climate change. Before grabbing your chainsaw and blood-pressure medicine, I recommend reading the bill. NREPA is fundamentally a conservative approach to achieving fiscal and ecological justice. Now, what freedom-loving, red-meat-eating American could hate a bill like that?

  4. NREPA is the right legislation and I would like to add that it is at the right time; but, the truth is that it’s really long overdue. NREPA is the right thing to do for conservation and, over the longer term, it’s also the right thing to do to achieve the highest and best sustainable economic benefit as well. Let’s just get it done!

  5. Many years ago, I attended an annual meeting of the Oregon Wilderness Coalition. We were preparing for the congressional field hearings on the Oregon Omnibus Wilderness Bill and we were addressed by Doug Scott. He told all of us small local wilderness group leaders and members to ask for all of it. Endless pressure, endlessly applied. He also told us no matter how strongly we feel about our local wilderness areas to always support all of the other groups and their local areas. It seems to me that if you support wilderness then you support all wilderness. Period.
    Scott warned us that congressional aides love to curry favor by dividing and conquering the local groups. It was sage advice.
    I think if MWA wants to prevent the passage of NREPA with their stubborn heal dragging then they should just consider calling themselves the Montana Whiners Association. Because, while they are busy telling us what can’t be done we can all just roll up our sleeves and git er done without them. It’s a new day in America and the failed politics of the past are on the way out. If you can’t see the train coming you better get out of the way because it’s got a lot of steam and weight behind it. Just consider what Martin Luther King would say if you told him Obama might just win.

  6. problembear, I too remember the sage advise of Doug Scott and David Brower to save all that remains wild. You might be interested to know Doug Scott now works for Pew’s Campaign for American Wilderness, advocating quid-pro-quo legislation that cherry-picks popular areas with local organizational support to achieve “wilderness victories” at all cost. Scott and Pew are directly linked to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partners through the Montana Wilderness Association, the beneficiary of huge sums of neo-liberal Pew money to grow its membership. It’s like fishing with marshmallows and worms, once hooked (with Pew $$$), you’re as good as cooked.

  7. Aw, heckfire.
    I figured something like this would happen. Now, something from the side of reason…I wrote this for the Flathead Beacon in response to Bill’s column of a couple weeks ago:

    When Wildernists Fight, Montana Wins

    Bill Schneider’s last column lives up to his “Wild Bill” marquee, with his wish for environmental groups to stop bickering and get Congress to pass a “wild bill” for Montana.
    Let ‘em bicker.
    First, the original Wilderness Act, signed by President Johnson in 1964, designated 9.1 million acres of big-W wilderness up front. Section 3(B) of the Act further mandated that all “primitive areas” under control of federal agencies would be reviewed for wilderness “suitability or nonsuitability” by 1974, then duly designated or released by Congress.
    So here we are, nearly 40 years later, with wilderness warriors supposedly split into two camps: Totalitarians, such as Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society, support ridiculous legislation such as the Earth-First-inspired Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). Incrementalists, such as Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) and the National Wildlife Federation, are proposing “more-moderate” ideas such as the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership.
    Don’t be fooled.
    Both camps want the same end result. As MWA’s “campaigns” web page states, MWA “works to designate and defend Wilderness as well as preserve potential wilderness land until it, too, can be designated as Wilderness.”
    Put another way, both totalitarians and incrementalists litigate, lobby, sue, what-have-you in order to block any activity on any acre of “roadless” and not-so-roadless land that might possibly become big-W Wilderness – anything to drag things out until the “right” (or wrong) Congress and President get elected.
    The totalitarian NREPA is so massive and so extreme, it is beneath contempt.
    As for the incrementalist Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership (BDP), is it truly a viable, workable alternative? Cuss, no.
    The BDP came about after the Forest Service released a terrible new plan for the B-D National Forest. In essence, the USFS rolled over like a budget-busted, litigation-kicked puppy asking to be shot. Even its newly-revised plan for the 3.3 million-acre forest (329,000 acres of recommended wilderness, up from 174,000, and only 299,000 acres of “suitable” timber, down from 676,000) starves the mills to death, thereby giving the forest completely over to wildfire.
    Public outrage spurred Senator Conrad Burns (R) to hold a December 2005 field hearing in Missoula. Roughly 75 percent of a packed house was multiple-use supporters; timber, mechanized recreationists, local government officials and others who came from all over Western Montana despite a howling blizzard. The message: Get serious about a workable plan.
    Trouble was, the lousy weather had desperate Sun Mountain mill owner Sherm Anderson, MWA’s John Gatchell, and Jack-Abramoff-tainted Senator Burns sharing a car out of Missoula after the meeting. From that ride came the “Partnership,” announced in summer 2006.
    The Partnership draft Title II adds 573,000 acres in 16 new wildernesses upon implementation in addition to 11,600 acres of mountain bike/snowmobile ground that is otherwise wilderness. In return, the timber beasts get 713,000 acres of “suitable” ground in the form of 7,000 acres per year of “stewardship” ground to work on, 70,000 acres total, only 2.1 percent of the forest.
    However, the draft specifies the forest be managed “in accordance with all existing laws and regulations,” meaning litigation can still stop the show.
    What’s the real hook? According to BDP supporters Bruce Farling and Tom France, “the stewardship elements of the bill will last only 15 years, about the life of the next forest plan. The wilderness will be permanent.”
    In short, there are no conditions on the wilderness. Radicals remain free to sue. If the timber side of the bargain gets monkeywrenched in court, the wilderness happens anyway, freeing the “moderate” wilderness advocates to target their political efforts elsewhere.
    No matter what, the public so far shut out of the “partnership” will be stuck dealing with what happens after. Mills or no mills, trees will still grow and die, fires will still burn, right?
    I have a better deal. The BDP, or any other “partnership” agreement, must make wilderness designation absolutely conditional on successful, litigation-free implementation of the rest of the program. Only if in ten years the mills are prosperous, the land in better shape, the fire problem under control and all, repeat all, multiple-user groups satisfied with the agreement results, then, and only then, should wilderness designation go forward.

    Pretty good, hah?

  8. Thank you Mr. Skinner for your words of wisdom and clarity. It sure helps when the truth at least gets articulated. Eco-fundamentalists will never have the support of the majority of decent, reasonable people here in the west or anywhere else in the country. They are beneath contempt. I only wish I could somehow figure a way to more effectivly expose them for what they are and help further divide them.

  9. How could anybody who grew up in the US and sees all the development and the sprawl and the millions of new people oppose the creation of more wilderness areas. Will these guys be happy when every part of the land is covered by houses or every one of the trees cut down or what? What do they want? Who are they so mad at and why? Decent reasonable people don’t hate the last undeveloped places or the last grizzly bears or other people just because they don’t agree on issues.

  10. Some choose to be blind in a world full of beauty. Some listen only to hate and division when love and understanding can heal them.
    All of the wilderness that is left to save may not even be enough to heal this earth choking with the smoke of our tailpipes and factories.
    It is clear that the “dividers” have had their day. Their politics is failed and imploding.
    John Milton said it best in 1677
    “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, and a Hell of Heaven.”

  11. MT Wilderness Hunter

    Didn’t I read that the Forest Service just released the final environmental impact statement for the Beaverhead and Deerlodge forests? According to the agency’s website, they are holding a 45 day public comment period on this final plan. Doesn’t it seem strange that Baker and the multi-million dollar environmental groups and select lumber mills that make up this “partnership” continue to push their DC-based legislation during a public comment period? Do they think the public process and comment period accounts for nothing?

    From what I’ve been able to read about their legislation it would essentially throw out the forest plan and public process already in place – and already open to all who care about the Beaverhead and Deerlodge forests – and their plan would replace it. Their plan was developed behind closed doors without the input of the public and is only viable in a political context because these well-funded groups and lumber mills have political connections that most ordinary citizens simply don’t have. Is this really how we want public lands managed in the future? Regardless of the specifics in the “partnership” proposal this seems to set a very dangerous precedent that only well-funded environmental groups and private industry will have a say in public lands management.

  12. I don’t think you know how right you are, MTW. In the wrong way, that is.
    You say a situation where “only well-funded environmental groups and private industry will have a say in public lands management” is a dangerous precedent? Heck, that’s the way it has BEEN, or at least the way the good old leftstream press has ALWAYS presented the issue, as Greens Versus Industry.
    The PUBLIC…the Joe Average, the theoretical owners of the land, have been utterly and totally cut off from any meaningful policy participation, despite the intent of law. They have also been utterly and totally screwed as to the result.
    For example, the roadless DEIS. 1400 pages. 50,000 copies printed, 1.8 million postcard comments? How many commenters read the DEIS, all of it, then signed the pre-printed postcard?
    How many average Joes read every page of the EIS and appendices? At a hundred stultifying, soporific pages a night, it still takes two solid weeks.
    Who’s gonna do that? You got it, the paid pros, either the foundational Greens (notice the yarfing above about Pew Trust funding by the bitter enders who got none) or the hapless public relations staffers for the mills. No logging outfit I know has a PR person unless it’s the boss’s wife.
    So the BDP is more of the same. The usual suspects positioned against each other, while the public gets the burnt shaft. Sideways with splinters.

  13. I went to the site, and it does a give a good show of roadless areas, but does not show big W wilderness areas, which are roadless as well. So there is more roadless land than this site shows, and I wonder what the purpose of not showing wilderness was in the creation and construction of the site. Misleading, in a way.

  14. Thanks Dave Skinner for demonstrating the futility of Pew-funded “wilderness” strategies. No amount of compromise will ever change the behavior of the small minority who want subsidized logging to continue until no wilderness remains. But why stay in Montana and complain about too much wilderness, when all one needs to do is move to New Jersey or Ohio (there are other states – and foreign counties too – to choose from) where man has already achieved non-wilderness perfection?

  15. I am again saddened that Tim Baker, representing the MWA, suggests in his essay that the BDP will improve forest health and local economies. The BDNF is one of the least productive forests in the nation. It’s a crime against Nature to have a timber program on such a forest. In fact, during the past five years only 500 acres were logged on the BDNF under FS management–reflecting its limited productivity.

    Unfortunately the BDP would permit logging up to 7000 acres a year–about the same area as nearly 5000 football fields cut annually–no small potatoes. That is a significant impact–particularly since most logging will be focused on the lower elevation and moistest lands–in other words the most productive lands on this forest.

    Logging is not benign. It has many impacts that MWA and co sponsors are glossing over.

    The superlatives on the BDNF are not timber production, but wildlife, fisheries, and wildlands. Going to bat for the timber industry and mouthing timber industry propaganda about improving the forest health and local economies by logging–when logging will have the opposite effect–is disappointing to say the least.

    Whether one supports NREPA or not, wilderness advocates should not be supporting destructive logging practices. Unfortunately that is what the BDP does. I hope that the MWA can get back to its original roots as a wilderness advocacy organization and leave the timber cutting propaganda for the timber industry to promote.

  16. Tim Baker refers to “we” as if “they” somehow involved the public in their private process, which they did not.

    Baker says, “We’ve discussed our proposal, face to face, with many organizations, local governments, lawmakers, and countless individuals.”

    There is a process for public involvement in place, Tim. It’s called NEPA. You side-stepped this and have disingenuously suggested that somehow the public has been involved.

    There are a great number of organizations, local governments, lawmakers, and countless individuals nation-wide who would take issue with your assessment.

    At the root of this Tim, these lands are not yours to trade.

  17. Steve,
    I must respond to your canard about logging being “subsidized.” Now…how can it be that other ownerships seem to make insanely evil amounts of taxpaying PROFIT on lands bought and paid for, and taxes paid upon, since the initial homesteading/land-grants? While another ownership can’t do squat with millions of acres of three-cent-per-acre ground, all tax-free with the exception of PILT?
    And I suppose wilderness pays for itself? Yah sure.
    And I suppose those groovy, one-time-and-done, “restoration” jobs you penurious, non-Pew-supported NREPA acolytes blather about will be funded from your coffers, not the taxpayers? You betcha.
    I mean, who really gets the subsidies? The admin overhead staff for USFS, who are tasked with bureaucratic bomproofing to avoid subsidy payments to EAJA plaintiffs.
    I’ll admit that private and some state ground isn’t even MY ideal of a healthy forest. But some, actually a lot, is amazingly good, shockingly well-managed and productive, a wonderful recreation and wildlife resource that is easy on the eye.
    I’ve seen tribal ground that is fantastic, too, managed on a shoestring yet causing jealousy to white eyes. Oh, but these lands have, gasp, “ROADS!”
    Tell ya what, Steve.
    You move to northern Yukon at least 32 miles from the nearest road and let me know how it’s going. Or maybe you can find a mining claim somewhere in lost Idaho. Then maybe I’ll think about moving to Joisey.
    By the way, Nelson, that’s kind of a neat site. Technologically, anyway.

  18. Wilderness is the least-cost-per-acre management area of all national forest system lands. Logging (and “restoration thinning”) acres are very heavily subsidized. Of course, nothing public “pays for itself,” nor should it. But there should, however, be a net (positive) public benefit when taxes are spent on agency actions. Logging and roads that lead to logging do way more harm than just the taxdollars wasted. The ecological damage to landscapes and watersheds are the costs that keep on giving.

  19. After commenting on RARE I and RARE II we were given yet another opportunity to comment on Inventoried Roadless Areas in 2000. It let with the question, “Do you want to maintain these pristine roadless areas in their current condition.” I went out to the border of the Chimney Rock and Cotton Tail Point/ Pilot Peak IRA’s and took pictures to show the roads that were easily visible thanks to a 65,000 acre burn that summer. These areas are neither pristine nor roadless. When these areas were reviewed by the Forest Service regarding their suitability for designation as Wilderness they found in 20 of the 22 IRA’s in the Payette National Forest that, “The preferred alternative does not recommend any portion of the IRA for Wilderness.” In many cases, “Only one concerned individual specifically suggested this IRA for wilderness recommendation in response to the DEIS.” The management prescription for fire in these IRA’s is to let the fires burn. In 2000 16% of the Chimney Rock IRA burned. The Forest Service records state that, Mean fire return intervals are infrequent (76 – 150 years) to very infrequent (151 – 300 years.) An estimated 1,600 acres of the 8,500 acre IRA burned in 2000. This area reburned with no fuel reduction in 2007. Now over 50% of the area is burned. The reburned portion burned so hot that all that was left behind was streaks of ash on the decomposed granite that passes for soil in our area. We are waiting to see what happens with our spring runoff especially since we have an above average snow pack this year. We may not have to debate closing the roads in these “Roadless” areas for long. Mother Nature may do the job for us.

    Have you seen a road obliterated? It isn’t downgraded from a road that you could drive an ATV or larger vehicle down to a hiking trail. It is dug up, 4 foot deep holes are left, live trees are cut down and even wildlife can pass through the area. Noxious weeds abound in these areas. In the Roadless Area Conservation, National Forest System Lands in Idaho DEIS it states repeatedly that, “There are no inventoried locations of noxious weeds with the roadless area.” I take that to mean that they haven’t conducted a noxious weed inventory in those areas because the weeds are there. Weeds are on the noxious weed list because they are non-native species that very aggressively take over an area. Many exude substances that keep other species from germinating or establishing near the noxious weeds. Rush skeleton weed infestations are growing in the Payette NF. Establishment of this weed reduces ground cover and allows for increased soil erosion. It does not provide food for wildlife. Other noxious weeds that are easily found in IRA’s are toxic to some animals. These weed infestations will not go away by themselves. These lands will not go back to what Lewis and Clark saw.

    Logging can be managed to be very beneficial to all species including man. No one would think of asking for an 800,000 acre clear cut but no one seems concerned about an 800,000 fire which does not recognize stream buffer strips or any other restriction that can be imposed on logging. If P 2.5’s from wood stoves are bad for us, aren’t the P 2/5’s from massive forest fires. We lived with fire smoke for 3 months last summer, fire burning trees literally in my back yard. Last year’s fires in Idaho burned through old mercury mining areas. It is estimated that 25% of the mercury emissions in the US come from forest fires. I wonder how much we were exposed to. EPA doesn’t require monitoring because these are naturally occurring events. We’re concerned about mercury emissions from coal fired power plants. This mercury is no less dangerous and it is concentrated in the states that have large tracts of forest lands. The Payette National Forest Management Plan calls for allowing the IRA’s to burn. Between 1990 and 2000 30% of the Payette National Forest burned. I’m sure we will beat that between 2000 and 2010.

    You will not be able to walk where Polly Bemis walked in the 1870’s because these roads will be obliterated and made impassable to all. You won’t want to because these areas will be burned and reburned until there is nothing left but the noxious weeds.

  20. Steven Earl Salmony

    What concerns me most of all is this: the family of humanity appears not to have more than several more years in which to make necessary changes in its conspicuous over-consumption lifestyles, in the unsustainable overproduction practices of big-business enterprises, and its overpopulation activities. Humankind may not be able to protect life as we know it and to preserve the integrity of Earth for even one more decade.

    If we project the fully anticipated growth of increasing and unbridled per-capita consumption, of rampantly expanding economic globalization and of propagating 70 to 75 million newborns per annum, will someone please explain to me how our seemingly endless growth civilization proceeds beyond the end of year 2012.

    According to my admittedly simple estimations, if humankind keeps doing just as it is doing now, without doing whatsoever is necessary to begin modifying the business-as-usual course of our gigantic, endless-growth-oriented global economy, then the Earth could sustain life as we know it for a time period of about 5 more years.

    It appears to me that all the chatter, including that heard in most “normal science” circles, of a benign path to the future by “leap-frogging” through a ‘bottleneck’ to population stabilization, and to good times ahead in 2050, is nothing more than wishful and magical thinking.

    Unfortunately, even top rank scientists have not found adequate ways of communicating to humanity what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the reckless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some sort unless, of course, the world’s colossal, ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global economy continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  21. Good for you, Becky. I just scrounged up the Wiedinmyer-Neff mercury and carbon papers, and you are totally spot on when it comes to the PM 2.5 concentrations problem.
    If those particles were “anthro” — the various and sundry here would be screaming their guts out. And they should, because the conditions in the woods are in fact anthro, a result of human decisions and action/inaction. Been that way for 15,000 years. But nooooo,
    Steve, I wouldn’t call the Ahorn fire management cost per acre a “least cost” way of doing things. And you conveniently don’t mention the simple fact that wilderness (legit or not) also carries a low value per acre. That matters only if you care about whether or not an economy for humans exists on the landscape, of course. Fine, you have your value system, which won’t recognize that a managed landscape can and does serve a fuller range of values than a “pristine” one — that again is an artifact of human activity aimed at human benefits. You choose not to get it, that’s fine, but that doesn’t entitle you to force the issue upon those who do. Too bad Congress did entitle you…wrongly, but then Congress only does the right thing when there’s no other option.

  22. This is quite a good reivew of an excellent movie. A movie that is new each time watched, although it’s a good idea to allow a few years between viewings.The story line becomes familiar, the alarming scenes become less shocking and the nuances of the events take a different twist. One can almost view some of the confrontations as a comedy of errors with tragic outcomes.But then that is what makes it such a fabulous movie, it’s not cut and dried and even little actions not observed before give it a new meaning.