A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. NYT editorial

NYT condemns Salazar and his acquiescence to delisting the wolf by legislative rider-

A Hole in the Endangered Species Act. New York Times.

Tester bill opposed by group of former MWA officers and council members

Splitting from the Montana Wilderness Association, they issue statement against the wilderness and logging bill-

Update 2-18. Tester’s Bill Causing Major Rift Among Wilderness Advocates. Former Montana Wilderness Association Council Members Bolt. By Bill Schneider. New West.

Earlier ↓

As folks probably know, the Montana Wilderness Association supports Senator Tester’s Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009, which establishes new designated Wilderness areas in Montana, mandates acreages of timber to be logged (not volumes of it), and misc. provisions.

It seems there is a split by many former officers and council members with the current organization. I was emailed their statement.
– – – – –

WILDERNESS LOST

We, the undersigned former council members and officers of the Montana Wilderness Association, respectfully urge Senator Tester to modify the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009 to rectify the problems outlined by the Undersecretary of Agriculture as well as the Last Best Chance Wildlands Campaign. We cannot support the legislation as now written. We diverge from MWA here because we believe that the bill degrades both the quantity and quality of some of America’s most cherished wildlands in Montana. We encourage consideration of the issues we have outlined below that would be necessary in order for us to support it.

We endorse the 10-point position paper, Keeping It Wild! In Defense of America’s Public Wildlands, which has been submitted by the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, available at: http://testerloggingbilltruths.wordpress.com/.

The bill legislates the net loss of hundreds of thousands of roadless area acres, including S-393 Wilderness Study Areas designated in 1977 by the late Senator Lee Metcalf. This will create widespread environmental damage and the loss of an irreplaceable legacy for which future generations will, quite correctly, hold ours accountable. Also, the bills’ Congressional mandate for timber cut levels sets a dangerous precedent. Resulting below-cost timber sales will cost taxpayers over $100 million. And proposed new Wilderness Areas are medium, often disjointed, primarily “rock and ice” parcels that would fail to protect fragile wildland and wildlife ecosystems and corridors.

To make matters worse, the bill includes special provisions for new “Wilderness” units that defy both the intent and letter of the Wilderness Act, and the spirit of Wilderness that so many Americans believe is a vital and wondrous part of this great nation’s heritage. Motor Vehicles, including helicopters, simply have no place in designated Wilderness. Yes, we need more Wilderness – lots of it – but we want it to be real Wilderness!

The bill also codifies secretive negotiated agreements – such as the Beaverhead-Deerlodge – that excluded many individuals and groups who’ve long been involved in the public process. This, and similar agreements, have been sealed by MWA and others over the objections of excluded organizations and individuals, of whom most live and work close to the land and know the compromised areas intimately.

It is with a heavy heart that we are compelled to oppose the organization that we once served as Council members and officers. Most of Montana’s undeveloped wilds are long gone, and we cannot afford to lose big chunks of what remains. We believe that in recent years, the Montana Wilderness Association [MWA] has clearly compromised its long-held wildland protection mission and vigilant advocacy. We know many current and former MWA members who agree. In fact, many conservationists in the region are convinced that, quite simply, MWA has lost its way. We are among those people.

In summary, this bill will irreparably damage Montana’s dwindling public wildland legacy. It will salt the gaping social wounds created by MWA’s recent actions. It degrades the Wilderness Act of 1964 with provisions that damage both Wilderness and the Wilderness Idea. And it’s a bad deal for future generations of Montanans who will need wild country more than ever in an increasingly crowded and uncertain future.

Lou Bruno (past president) – East Glacier
Joan Montagne (past president) – Bozeman
Elaine Snyder (past president) – Kalispell
Loren Kreck (past vice-president) – Columbia Falls
Larry Campbell – Darby
Susan Colvin – Great Falls
Paul Edwards – Helena
Randall Gloege – Billings
Keith Hammer – Kalispell
Steve Kelly – Bozeman
Bob Oset – Hamilton
Paul Richards – Boulder
Ross Titus – Big Fork
George Wuerthner – Helena
Janet Zimmerman – Pony
Lance Olsen – Missoula

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Larry Campbell, 406-821-3110, lcampbell@bitterroot.net

Tester makes changes for the worse in his “Wilderness Bill”

Rather than providing for possible elimination of grazing in these areas, he locks it in-

Now I think it is a number one priority to kill this awful bill. We don’t need more cattle stomped “wilderness areas” because they aren’t really wilderness.

Tester Makes Some Changes to Wilderness Bill, Refuses Others. “In response to feedback, Sen. Tester aims to make changes that improve his bill, and its chance of passage.” New West. By Amy Linn, 2-05-10

Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act Gets First Hearing

Senate committee gathers testimony on the Senators “wilderness bill”-

Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act Gets First Hearing. By Courtney Lowery. New West.

Here is the video of the full hearing.

Idaho Senators try to pressure Tester to remove an area from his “wilderness bill”

Idaho snowmobile interests “own” the Idaho side of the Centennial Mountains, yet still want Mt. Jefferson on the Montana side removed from bill-

Conflicting Interests. Written by Mark Menlove. Backcountry Magazine.

I see that conservation groups who support Senator Tester’s  “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA)” (a.k.a. “wilderness bill”) are waging a campaign to keep the area in the bill. The Idaho-based Blue Ribbon Coalition is using the Idaho senators to try to get Tester and Baucus to fold.

Poll: Montanans support grizzly bear ESA protection, Tester’s Wilderness bill, and the wolf hunt

Scientific survey shows thumbs up for Schweitzer, Tester, Rehberg; big drop for Baucus-

Story in the Missoulian. Baucus’ approval rating among Montanans drops by 20 percent. By Matt Gouras. Associated Press

In any survey, it is good to look at the actual questions. Here are the full survey results.

Schneider’s updates on Tester’s Wilderness bill

Over at New West you can follow the Montana Wilderness controversy closely-

Yesterday Ken Cole posted Senator Tester Betrays Montana Wilderness, a sharply critical opinion piece written by Brian Peck.

Bill Schneider has been following Montana’s 30 year Wilderness controversy for some time in his columns at New West. His many updates give folks a background, a history, as well as his perspective. Tester’s Wilderness Bill, Updates. By Bill Schneider. New West.

I want to add, however, that if folks want to have a wildlife migration corridor from the Greater Yellowstone to central Idaho, this Wilderness designation is of little help because the barriers to migration are 1. the Sheep Experiment Station which blocks a large swath of the Idaho/Montana border on the Continental Divide; 2. other livestock grazing on the public lands in the corridor; and 3. Interstate 15. Wilderness designation does nothing about these.

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Pine-beetle epidemic changes debate over logging Montana’s forests

Will it increase support for salvage logging?

Of course it will!

Will it increase support for Tester’s Wilderness plus logging bill? Yes!

Will there actually be an increase in salvage logging? Hard to say.

Some points needs to be made. First, this beetle epidemic is not just a Montana thing. It extends from the Yukon nearly to Mexico among pine trees. Logging of green trees to get ahead of beetle infestation is hopeless. It hasn’t worked anywhere in Canada or the United States because this is an extraordinary event fueled by a series of warm winters.

Secondly you can offer the dead trees for sale, but the timber operator needs to make a profit.  They are presently trying to ramp up the salvage in Canada and the United States.  If demand for a product is stable, an increase in the supply drives down the price. The price offered for lumber or chips from dead pine is already low because of the depressed economy. A ramp up of logging will drive the price still lower.

These salvage sales might find no one who will log them. Fortunately, dead lodgepole pine, left standing, does not deteriorate nearly as fast as dead spruce or fir, so some of these might still be worthwhile 5 years from now.

Finally, these dead forests will not necessarily all burn. Dead pine burns like gasoline while it still wears its dead red needles, but after they drop, the fire danger goes down rapidly in many stands. However, when they topple over in the wind on top of each other, the fire danger goes up again.

Pine-beetle epidemic changes debate over logging Montana’s forests. By Jennifer McKee. Missoulian State Bureau

_________________

Here is George Wuerthner’s interesting and detailed  essay, which I mentioned and others too in the comments.

It turns out that yesterday there was an essay in Writers on the Range about the big beetle kill in Colorado. Folks, including editorial writers, need to understand that this is not a Montana beetle kill or a Colorado beetle kill. It is a continental beetle kill.

Omnibus Public Lands bill wins final passage in U.S. Senate

House passage is expected next week-

The bill finally passed today. The final vote for passage was 73-21.

While most of the media seem to still think this is just a bill wilderness bill, folks are slowly finding the other stuff. For example, contained in the bill is the “Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act,” authored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester, D-MT and John Barrasso, R-WY.

Some of the media are concentrating on the purely politics part — how Harry Reid stuck it to Tom Coburn.