• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat

The Northern Rockies are surely near the top of the list of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Its ranges contain one of the last great expanses of biodiversity left in the continental United States, including most of the species that were there when Lewis and Clark first passed through in 1805 on their journey of discovery.

These attributes alone would be reason enough to protect this region. Instead, the Trump administration has been pushing oil, gas, mining, and logging projects, and removing legal protections from threatened species. To be fair, the Obama administration also pursued some of those actions. But the current administration’s zealotry threatens the region’s wild landscape and rich biodiversity. It’s up to all of us who care about the environment, science and preserving wild places for our children to resist such efforts.

Legislation recently introduced in the House would protect a vast swath of this region. But until that law is enacted, we’ll have to rely on the judiciary. Along with other organizations and Indian tribes in the Northern Rockies, our group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, has been fighting threats to the region in court. Fortunately, this past year has brought some encouraging news. But the court system alone will not provide the protection this area needs and deserves.

In August, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit voted unanimously to halt a planned 125-square-mile logging and burning project in the Payette National Forest in western Idaho. The court concluded that parts of the project ran counter to the forest’s management plan.

Under that project, so many trees would have been cut that the forest would have no longer provided elk or deer with the cover they need. Forest streams would have been filled with sediment from bulldozers building miles of new logging roads — further damaging the native fisheries for which the Northern Rockies are internationally famous. According to the United States Forest Service’s own projections, taxpayers would have spent more than $12 million to subsidize the logging.

On the same day of the Ninth Circuit ruling against the Payette project, a Federal District Court judge in Montana, Dana Christensen, granted a request by Alliance for the Wild Rockies and two other groups for an injunction temporarily stopping a logging and road building project along the northwestern border of Yellowstone National Park. Nearly 16 miles of logging roads would have been bulldozed through grizzly bear habitat. The judge concluded that the Forest Service had failed to consider how the project would affect the Canada lynx, which has been listed since 2000 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Now the court is weighing whether to permanently block the project.

Then, in September, Judge Christensen ordered the Yellowstone-area grizzly bears restored to full protection as a threatened species. When the federal government removed the bear’s protected status in June 2017, ignoring the concerns of scientists, environmentalists and tribal leaders, the State of Wyoming started gearing up for its first grizzly hunt in more than 40 years. But Judge Christensen ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service had erred in removing the bear’s threatened status, siding with us and opponents of the hunt. The Interior Department is appealing this decision.

This was a particularly important ruling because the loss of protected status could have opened the bears’ habitat to mining, logging, and development. But the fight to protect the landscape and its species is far from over. With the nation’s environmental laws under all-out attack by the Trump administration, victories in the judicial branch can get us only so far.

That’s why Congress must act to protect the Northern Rockies. Legislation introduced recently in the House by Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, and soon to be introduced in the Senate by Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, would designate 23 million acres of roadless public lands in Montana, Idaho, western Wyoming, and eastern Oregon and Washington as wilderness.

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act would also establish a system of vital biological corridors connecting smaller ecosystems within the Northern Rockies to protect native plants and animals. Restoring over one million acres of damaged habitat and watersheds would create jobs, and taxpayers would save millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on road-building and logging projects in which private corporations cut down our public forests.

In 1872, when Congress designated Yellowstone as the world’s first national park, America was the world leader in conservation. That reputation is fast eroding. By passing this legislation, Congress can help reverse this trend.

Our group and others have been fighting for more than a quarter of a century to protect the ecosystems of the Northern Rockies that are the rightful heritage of all Americans and generations to come. With the support of an engaged public and insistence by an independent judiciary that this administration adhere to longstanding environmental laws, we will succeed.

On June 12, 1805, Meriwether Lewis climbed a bluff in what is now Chouteau County, Mont. From this vantage, he was able to see wolves, antelope, mule deer and “immense herds of buffalo.” He added, “From this height we had a most beautiful and picturesque view of the Rocky Mountains, which were perfectly covered with snow.”

They were, Lewis wrote in his journal, “an august spectacle.”

Nearly 214 years later, parts of the Northern Rockies remain as they were when Lewis first saw its peaks. We must protect them so future generations can experience the grandeur that he beheld.

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

Carole King is a singer, songwriter, author and environmental advocate.

This column originally appeared in The New York Times.

 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
stclair
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail