Defending Montana Forests From Lawless Logging


A handful of timber corporations recently took out full-page ads statewide to criticize the Alliance for the Wild Rockies for doing what we do well — working to keep Montana “high, wide and handsome” as Joseph Kinsey Howard famously wrote.

We protect public land from corporations and government bureaucracies that want to log public lands without following the law. To put it simply, they want to return to the “good old days” before we had any environmental laws and corporations such as the Anaconda Company called all the shots.

As a fifth generation Montanan, I clearly recall the days when Silver Bow Creek ran red with mine waste and the Clark Fork River was a dead, sludge-filled industrial sewer. And it was not that long ago when you had to turn your car lights on in the middle of the day in Butte because the air was so polluted. These were also the days when our forests had little big game and native fish were beginning to vanish because of massive clearcutting.

Today Montana has some of the best hunting and fishing in the world. The state recently celebrated the return of native westslope cutthroat trout to Silver Bow Creek and Milltown Dam no longer holds millions of tons of toxic waste seeping into the groundwater.

Do we really want to go back to these good old days of cut-and-run where there are no environmental laws? Montanans love our national forests, which belong to the American people, not to the career bureaucrats in the Forest Service or the CEOs and stockholders of timber corporations.

Yet, in their ads, the timber corporations clearly laid out their goals for the conditions and laws they want applied to their personal profit-driven extraction of public resources. In their own words, the timber companies want to “scrap the entire Forest Service Administrative Appeals Process,” “exempt from judicial review those timber sales which deal with trees that have been killed or severely damaged by the Mountain Pine Beetle,” and “amend the Equal Access to Justice Act by requiring a cash bond in these types of administrative appeals and lawsuits.”

In plain language, what that means is that these corporations no longer want citizens to have a voice in how our public lands get used or abused. But that ignores both the history and intent of law and policy on public lands management.

Congress placed citizen suit provisions in virtually all federal environmental laws because citizens are often the only group willing to police the government. As the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals famously wrote, citizens “stand in the shoes” of regulatory enforcement agencies to enforce the law — and to do so without any prospect of personal benefit. If someone throws a brick through a window, the police would enforce the law. But when the federal government breaks the law, citizens are often the only enforcers.

Unfortunately a disturbing trend has appeared as big environmental groups such as the Montana Wilderness Association and The Wilderness Society increasingly take foundation money to “collaborate” with timber corporations. And much like the Vichy French helped the Nazis occupy France during WWII, these collaborators now have to face the harsh and shameful legacy of what they have done and continue to do.

Behind it all is the very simple truth now revealed by the timber companies’ own damning ads: these corporations want access and the subsidy to extract timber resources from public lands unencumbered by environmental laws. Their profit, our loss, and a return to the bad old days of corporate domination of Montana’s lands and people. But Montanans don’t want to return to those days when corporations like the Anaconda Co. controlled public policy and the rivers ran red with mine waste. We want a sustainable supply of clean water, fish, wildlife and timber.

It’s time to tell these corporations and their collaborative partners that the days of rape and run in Montana are over. Montana is worth fighting for, which is exactly what the Alliance for the Wild Rockies intends to continue to do.

Mike Garrity is executive director Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving