Measure to Regulate Development Along Montana Rivers Likely Dead

Developers and Republicans kill the bill-

Story in New West by. By Courtney Lowery.

It’s hard to find a bright light during the great recession, but if it is killing off the rural sprawl developers who killed the bill, there is at least a bright flicker.

Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise

Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise. New York Times.

Higher energy costs may greatly reduce the housing sprawl into our wild country, which costs the taxpayers to much to provide services, increases the cost of forest fires, and uses a lot of energy (the emerging check on the sprawl).

Former Larry Craig aide and timber lobbyist, uses federal position to help access to trophy home sites deep in the forest

We’ve talked about Mary Rey before. He is under secretary for natural resources and environment in USDA, and thus oversees the U.S. Forest Service. Before that he learned the ropes from none other than Larry Craig and became a lobbyist for the timber industry.

In the past, he has barely escaped jail for defying court orders, and most recently is busy trampling on states rights to open national forest logging roads as acess to proposed and under constrution trophy homes deep the the forests.

These energy sucking, hard-to-service palaces are being built over the objections of states and counties that will have to pay the bills.

Rocky Barker discusses Rey today. D.C. political appointee flouts states rights and local control. Letters from the West. Idaho Statesman

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Earlier. Rey to explain Plum Creek deal. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget in NW Montana

Plum Creek timber is the largest private landholder in Montana, and now since timbering no longer pays as much as remote subdivisions do, they are planning, asking and building a lot of them. Many are located in expensive-to-service, forest fire prone country. Most county commissions seem to think that they have to let developers do as they please with their land, but who pays for all this?

As long as the US Forest Service keeps fighting fires with the primary goal of saving homes, even the most remote, never-should-have-been built homes, the sprawl will never end (except perhaps now by financial collapse of the mortgage market).

This article explores the problem and suggests the reorientation of thinking of county commissioners will be when they have to assess their constituents the true cost of fire fighting.

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget. By Michael Jamison, Missoulian.

As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land in West

As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land in West. New York Times. By Kirk Johnson.

This is something that needs to be slowed or stopped if possible.

Hardly any existing residents seem to like this trend, but hardly anyone suggests anything effective in stopping it.

Repealing regulations protecting the environment from logging and grazing won’t stop it because it clearly hasn’t stopped where it has been tried. You just get rural sprawl mixed with livestock and logging abuse.

Today, the land is worth more as a residence than for grazing or timbering when the county provides services.

So, the key to minimizing this is to zone the county and not provide services to properties not zoned for residential occupation.

1. This does not violate the owner’s property rights because a private property owner has no right to reach into your wallet and extract tax-supported service unless the county permits it. Your money is private property too.

2. Some rural counties are so foolish they that give agricultural exemptions if the owner of a rural palace lets them run a few cattle or sheep on their 50 or so acres . . . talk about redistribution of wealth from the average person to the better off! Clearly people need to think about who they election to county commission.

3. The fire fighting agencies need to draw the line on protecting these places from wildfire. Now before Bob Caesar or someone so situated who has had a rural residence for many years writes about it being unfair, we need to obviously grandfather places like his. This is a policy for future construction, not for past.

4. Private insurance needs to segregate these residences and make them pay full cost rather than once again spreading the cost to people who have built where so many tax dollars need not be consumed. In order words, no private wealth redistribution to these places either.

5. Private communities should be discouraged by local ordinance as a violation of the US and various state constitutions. Traditional access where it is not harmful to the environment needs to be enforced by the county (not abandoned). I am not thinking, however, that ATV trails going straight up the mountain or through a marsh should be kept open. Here private closure can actually be of great benefit.

6. I believe in private property rights. If the person still wants to build on his or her remote property after it is clear no services will be provided from the local, state, or federal government taxes, then that’s their right. Everyone with property has property rights, but money is just as much private property as land.

7. Finally, because many of the rich newcomers are conservation-minded, It might be possible to enlist them to stopping more of what they did. Some people will say it’s not fair to lock the door behind you. I say it is fair because it is strongly in the interest of the public and the conservation of land and water, it is more than fair.