Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 

Imagine what you could do with $972,000! What the federal government wants to do with it is subsidize the Stonewall timber sale and burning project, which will destroy about 5,000 acres of big game, lynx and grizzly bear habitat northwest of Lincoln in violation of federal laws.

$972,000 to destroy wildlife habitat on public land? Most Montanans believe the federal government should be spending taxpayer money protecting fish and wildlife habitat on public land, not destroying it – and there’s plenty of restoration work that needs to be done due to past logging damages.

Just to be clear, the $972,000 is what the Forest Service says in the Environmental Impact Statement that the federal government will lose on the timber sale.

The timber sale may well be bought by RY Timber of Townsend and Livingston, which is owned by the billionaire Yanke family from Boise, Idaho. RY Timber has been getting most of the timber from the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest lately. $972,000 isn’t a lot of money to the federal government or a billionaire but it is a lot to you and me. So why should we spend almost a million taxpayer dollars destroying fish and wildlife habitat on public lands? After all, how much money does a billionaire need? Isn’t a billion dollars enough?

Much to its credit, wildlife biologists with Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks were so concerned that they wrote the Forest Service during the travel planning process for the Blackfoot area that “although elk populations have generally increased in hunting districts that include Helena National Forest land since adoption of the 1986 Forest Plan, the number of elk that spend summer and fall on the Lincoln Ranger District have not. … FWP recommends that land managers provide enough secure habitat during fall to meet annual bull survival objectives while maintaining general bull harvest opportunity. Neither public land populations nor bull ratios in the Lincoln valley have increased despite the near elimination of antlerless harvest opportunity and the adoption of spike-bull harvest restrictions.”

Montana’s big game management agency also warned that due to degraded habitat on public lands, elk are now spending more time on private lands, which causes conflict with land owners as well as increasing the difficulty of managing the herd size due to loss of hunting opportunities on public lands, writing: “The number of elk that spend the majority of the year on some nearby private lands has increased dramatically between 1986 and 2013. FWP has consistently urged the [Helena National Forest] to increase functional fall habitat security on the Lincoln Ranger District.”

For $972,000, Montana hunters are going to find fewer elk on public lands in the Lincoln Ranger District since they will flee to inaccessible private lands after the federal government has destroyed their habitat on public lands.

We think it makes no sense to sacrifice public elk, lynx, and grizzly bear habitat to subsidize the timber industry with nearly a million taxpayer dollars, which is why the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council filed suit in Federal District Court challenging the Stonewall Vegetation Project.

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and a fifth generation Montanan.

More articles by:

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

April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic