Background: Mega-ski resort owner POWDR Corp. recently purchased the historic Holland Lake Lodge in Montana in the Swan Valley, between the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Mission Mountain Wilderness, and now proposes a massive expansion and extended operating season on a Forest Service Special Use Permit. The Forest Service intended to issue the permit on a categorical exclusion from any environmental analysis or public review, comment and objection as allowed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An astounding 6,507 comments rolled in OPPOSING the project!
Yet Senator Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act (S. 1493) as well as a new Lincoln Prosperity Proposal have many of the same problems impacting native fisheries and endangered species – and the same categorical exclusions from environmental analysis, public review, comment and objection.
Thank you to the 6,507 people who submitted comments opposing the expansion of the Holland Lake Lodge. But if you oppose turning over Holland Lake Lodge to the POWDR corporation because it exploits public lands for private profit, be aware that the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act and the Lincoln Prosperity Proposal do the same. All three proposals have more things in common than Montanans have been told and they all commercially exploit roadless public lands that currently provide secure habitat for grizzlies, lynx, bull trout, Westslope cutthroat trout, and elk.
No Public Review
All three proposals are exempted from thorough environmental analysis and opportunity for public review, comment, and objection as required by existing environmental laws. An unlimited number of logging projects in the Blackfoot and Lincoln proposals, up to 3,000 acres each in currently roadless lands, are “categorically excluded” from the National Environmental Policy Act – exactly what the Forest Service is attempting with the Holland Lake Lodge expansion.
Blackfoot Clearwater bill slices the Monture Creek roadless lands in half
This is federally-designated Critical Habitat for lynx and bull trout and secure habitat for grizzly bears as well as a major elk migration corridor from the Scapegoat Wilderness to the winter ranges below. Yet the bill designates more than 5,000 acres as play areas for snowmobiles and mountain bikes despite the fact that the Forest Service already testified that area trails are incompatible for mountain biking due to wildlife impacts. The rest of Monture’s increasingly rare roadless areas are then opened for logging companies to bulldoze and clearcut.
Lincoln Prosperity Proposal
This proposal turns over management of 70,000 acres in the Ogden Mountain Roadless Area and other roadless areas northwest of Lincoln to the timber industry. It converts 130,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas into play areas for motorized recreation and mountain bikers.
Grizzlies, lynx, bull trout in trouble
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued its “5-Year Status Review for Grizzlies” in 2021 and found “the grizzly bear in the lower-48 States remains likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range.”
Montana’s Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks estimated there were 700 to 1,050 lynx throughout Western Montana in 1994. Today there are about 300. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that 50 percent of each lynx home range must be mature, dense forest to provide optimal habitat for lynx to breed and raise kits – and that no more than 5 percent of each lynx home range should be clearcut. Some of the best lynx habitat in Montana would be destroyed by these three proposals.
Montana bull trout are considered secure in only 2 percent of the stream segments they inhabit. Fish biologists consider bull trout at “moderate risk of extinction” in 65 percent of their Montana range and at “high risk of extinction” in 33 percent of their range.
The timber and mechanical recreation industries already have access to all the roaded lands in Montana. But apparently that is not enough, they are greedy and want it all. With over 8 million acres of roaded Forest Service public lands in Montana, there is simply no excuse or reason for proposing logging, snowmobiling, mountain biking and ATVs in the last of our pristine roadless areas.
Just as thousands of Montanans stood up to oppose corporate greed in the Holland Lake Lodge proposal, we should also oppose the Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act and the Lincoln Prosperity Proposal for the same excellent reasons – they cut the public out of the process, short-cut environmental analysis, and destroy Montana’s native fisheries and wildlife habitat.
Please ask your Representative and Senators to oppose S. 1493, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.