Collateral damage: Experts wonder what Tester’s bill may kill

More fallout on the costs to conservation Montana Senator Jon Tester’s new Logging Bill (couched in “W”ilderness designation) may have to Montana’s wildlife.

Collateral damage: Experts wonder what Tester’s bill may kill Missoula Independent

While much of the critique coming from conservationists focuses on the negative impact of the logging on other-than-wilderness public lands of which existing protections are traded away in the bill, Ralph Maughan previously leveraged a convincing repudiation of Tester’s logging bill pointing out that much of the Wilderness will be Cow-trashed Wilderness, “Wilderness” designated landscapes allowed to be grazed to the dirt as before.  How’s that for “untrammeled” ?

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Review: Carving Up the Commons

Ralph previously noted how the Western Lands Project monitors public land privatization, which let people know about a great book, Carving Up the Commons (pdf), freely available for download.  The book gives great history and analysis of.  Here’s a recent book review :

Required reading: How Congress crafts public land billsMissoula Independent

Perhaps the most succinct summary is provided by former congressional public lands committees staffer Erica Rosenberg in the introduction.

“Armed with insider know-how, Janine distills an astoundingly complex political process into an accessible manual. Although the process remains unwieldy, Janine’s illumination of the legal framework and political context makes it far less so. In Carving Up the Commons, Janine has provided a much needed window into a shady world of back-room deals, special interests and cronyism, while offering pragmatic information and a tactful approach to citizen involvement.”

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Logging Bill or Wilderness Bill ?

More controversy has been in the news concerning what has been framed the Beaverhead-Deerlodge “W“ilderness bill in Montana.

Paul Richards has taken a candid approach to the spread of this nominal Wilderness in Montana – he’s calling it what it just as fairly might be called, a logging bill : 

Why Does Jon Tester Want to Log Wild Montana? : Counterpunch

In the Tester Logging Bill, we are witnessing the worst of hardball politics. The Tester Logging Bill ignores economic, scientific, and environmental reality. It circumvents the public and environmental laws designed to serve the public good, such as the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Forest Management Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Paul points out many of the problems with the bill, including one of the quid pro quo’s being the loss of already protected Wilderness Study Areas :

The Tester Logging Bill “undesignates” the Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area, Bell/Limekiln Canyons Wilderness Study Area, East Fork Blacktail Wilderness Study Area, Henneberry Ridge Wilderness Study Area, and Hidden Pasture Wilderness Study Area. All of these roadless wildlands would be subjected to “logging without laws,” as the Tester Logging Bill specifically excludes them from the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Rocky Barker looks at the same bill and sees what some might suggest as more important than the pesky details concerning wildlands lost.  He sees sweet, sweet *compromise* :

Montana wilderness (sic) bill similar to Idaho approach – Letters from the West

Wilderness Strategy Questioned

Current Creek, Owyhee Canyonlands © Brian Ertz

Current Creek, Owyhee Canyonlands © Brian Ertz

Wilderness ought be worth fighting for

George Wuerthner questions the quid pro quo strategy that a small number of groups have claimed necessary to promote wilderness designation – some even going so far as to nearly become cheerleaders for the very industries that threaten the wild.

Wilderness Strategy Questioned – Is the future of Wilderness simply more of the past? NewWest.net

“Compromise is often necessary, but it ought not to originate with environmental leaders. Our role is to hold fast to what we believe is right, to fight for it, to find allies, and to adduce all possible arguments for our cause.“‘– David Brower

When I think of wilderness, I imagine a place untrammeled by man.  But when looking at a quid pro quo “W“ilderness bill such as the Owyhee Initiative – it quickly becomes very unclear.  The “pros” and “cons” are measured as apples to oranges – is the release of existing protection for ‘X’ acres of existing quality habitat for wildlife worth gaining ‘Y’ miles of mystical/beautiful canyons even as they aren’t likely to be harmed anyway ?  Is ‘X’ acres of “W“ilderness worth release of so many more to its antithesis – logging, grazing, development, etc. ?  Who knows ?

That’s not a clear way of communicating an advocacy.  George’s article is good because it calls for honesty.

Collaboration on the Clearwater

Another local conservationist adds his voice to a growing chorus of activists on the ground who are learning first hand the consequences to wildlife and wild places when a particular model of conservation sets its backdrop of hand-picked participants at a table, satisfied with quid pro quos rather than strict adherence to the law.

Gary Macfarlane writes of the looming process of “collaborative” land management in the Clearwater :

Collaboration on the Clearwater – via Counterpunch

A reminder of what appears to be the point of these exercises ~ access and capital to play politics : An Open Letter to the Conservation Community Calling for a Moratorium on Damaging Public Land & Wilderness Legislation 9/12/06 – Read the lettersigned by over 80 local & regional conservation groups.

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