FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands

Canadian lynx. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem is unique. Our wildlands support all the fish and wildlife species present when Lewis & Clark passed through. This abundant resource is what sustains a five-week hunting season, angling for native trout and unparalleled opportunities for solitude. It is the foundation for Montana’s $7 billion dollar outdoor industry, attracting visitors by the millions.

This national treasure is anchored by our roadless areas. Numerous scientific studies have found roadless areas provide the best habitat for elk, the best water quality, and most secure habitat for threatened species including grizzly bear, bull trout and lynx.

Unfortunately, Senator Jon Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act would permanently diminish this resource. Most notably, Tester’s bill would cut the Monture roadless area in half, dedicating the center to snowmobile and mountain bike play areas within an important part of the Bob Marshall country.

Poet Maya Angelou said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” The collaborationist supporters who wrote the bill drape themselves in conservation but show a different agenda. Loren Rose, Chief Operating Officer of Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company and a leader of the collaborationists said, “Everyone who collaborates does so with the expectation they will get something out of it. We got logs on trucks. Our conservation partners got very little out of this Southwest Crown of the Continent work.” Tester’s own electronic propaganda states timber first.

No less alarming, the bill usurps the Forest Service planning process and gives it to a small handful of self-selected people, the “collaborators” who wrote the bill. It also includes a process called “categorical exclusion” whereby timber sales up to 3,000 acres do not have to go through full environmental analysis and public involvement. Public challenges based on environmental concerns are blocked. In a plan to string together several such sales, the collaborators have conspired to limit public involvement and environmental laws on tens of thousands of acres of public lands on the Lolo National Forest. This is wrong and fundamentally undemocratic.

The National Forest Management Act does not have a fill in the blank section to “provide a steady supply of timber to Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company,” or any other company or individual. We can be sympathetic to the fate of the small logger while acknowledging there is no obligation for our National Forests to guarantee continued employment or profit to anyone.

Nor are the collaborators politically astute. This is the worst time to advance legislation. The naïve and gullible are enabling politicians to play election year games with our national roadless resource. Elections are for election season, the land is for all of time.

By contrast, the gold standard for fish and wildlife conservation is the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, S.936 and H.R.2135. This citizen plan is inspired by conservation biology, bestowing the protection our region richly deserves and which our fish, wildlife and regional economy depend upon. Rather than further fragmenting and isolating our wildlife habitat and roadless areas, it would work to reconnect them, employing people with good jobs in the process.

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act has gained the endorsements of leading scientists, including the late Dr. John J. Craighead, legendary grizzly bear scientist and naturalist, who testified before Congress.

It’s time for Senator Tester to announce he’s keeping election year politics out of the public lands debate. Our public lands don’t deserve to be political pawns. If reelected, it’s his responsibility to roll up his sleeves to meet and listen to all interested parties, not just those who agree with him. The Northern Rockies, and the American people, deserve no less.

Mike Bader is an independent consultant in Missoula. He was centrally involved in crafting The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act and he authored a professional analysis of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.

Mike Garrity is Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies in Helena.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail