Sen. Jon Tester’s new Forest Jobs and Recreation Act has lately been the topic of much discussion and some controversy among conservationists, recreationists and other stakeholder groups who all value Montana’s vast tracts of public wildlands. In the past, these different issue groups sat on different ends on the metaphorical table, and the granola-munching wilderness advocate wouldn’t be seen giving a Skoal-spitting logger the time of day. As a result, both causes suffered—big wilderness bills protecting the wild, undeveloped places which make Montana paradise failed time and time again, and the timber industry, for the most part a cadre of men and women simply out to make an honest living in the woods, has fallen to the point where many question if it will ever be a viable industry again.
Tester’s bill is a chance to step beyond the deadlock of the past and make real progress. Forest health, timber production, backcountry travel, motorized recreation and even biomass utilization—all of these are encouraged by Tester’s bill, and for the first time such a bill has the support of conservation groups and local timber producers. The bill may not be perfect, and will perhaps not please everyone; there will always be fringe groups on every side eager to yell “No compromise!” That said, the vision this bill presents—a vision of collaboration and integrated forest management—is one-of-a-kind, and I’m excited to see it succeed.Leo Brett Missoula
Our Missoula Boy Scout Troop has been enjoying a long day hike on Wild Horse Island every fall for many years now. Being a horse owner, one of which was an adopted wild horse from Nevada, and maybe just enjoying the idea of wild horses on Wild Horse, I have kept track of the small herd every year when on the island.
This September’s outing, I found the remains of the sorrel with the white feet and went on a search for the last gelding. I found him about a half-mile uphill from his buddy in the shade of a pine.
Your article answered my internal question of whether there were plans for replacing the horses, and I’m glad that this will be the case.
I’ve attached a picture of “Old Black” that I took on Sept. 12. He is alive and well although he too is showing his age (see photo at right).
Thanks for the good news about Wild Horse and the informative article about Montana’s herds.Tracie Stahl Missoula
Your review of Kegger credits the hippy capitalists at Rockin Rudy’s with the creation of the “A Place, Sort Of” image adorning the T-shirts the store sells. In fact, I designed this image in 1982. In its original form the flying amphibian, drawn by Jan Faust, was accompanied by the Latin words, “Vos Hic Estes,” which I took to mean “You Are Here.” I entered the design in a contest to pick a seal for the County of Missoula. It came in second. My aim for the original image and its commercial successor was to mock the self-congratulatory zeal of people who think Missoula is the greatest town in the world, apparently because it isn’t Great Falls.Bill Vaughn Missoula
As someone who has been involved doing guardian ad litem (GAL) work for more than a dozen years, I can surely agree with Montanans Supporting Guardian Guidelines (MSGG) that the law governing GALs in Montana needs overhauling (see “Guiding the guardians,” Oct. 1, 2009).
There certainly are GALs who are terrific, competent, compassionate and wise. There are also GALs who are horrible, incompetent, arrogant and foolish. I know for sure that’s a fact, because I am both—depending on the parent you are talking to.
But even the most dedicated of us have had to fly by dead reckoning. Under the present system, there are no rules governing the specifics of what a GAL does or does not do. One result is that we have had to more or less invent ourselves. This lack of legal structure has affected the judges, too. They have also had to make up their own minds about what the GAL should do; and any GAL will tell you that every judge has his or her own ideas about that.
I think most of us who have worked in the field would be downright grateful to have a statute that spells out with some precision what a GAL does and does not do.
For myself, I think the law should also require ongoing continuing education—in basic knowledge of family law for us non-attorneys, and in family structure and dynamics, child development and other such areas for those, like most lawyers, who have no background there.
So, to the people who got the MSGG ball rolling—you done good!Paul W. Moomaw Missoula
I’d like to invite fellow reader Danielle Standley and anyone who agrees with her letter (see “Flower power” in Letters, Sept. 24, 2009) about “wasted” water to consider just three things:
1. Flowers promote honeybee travel patterns, therefore furthering necessary food pollination. Gotta have bees for fruits and veggies.
2. Studies show colorful and natural plants elevate serotonin in our brains. Flowers equal antidepressants.
3. Pessimism and negativity only further our species’ inability to become a collective consciousness.
If we all took on a thought pattern of “there’s more than enough” or “our waters are abundant,” then our creative source would fulfill our intended reality.
I diligently conserve water and electricity. I reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and do what I can in these trying times. I understand Standley’s frustration, but a switch to optimism must be our path to success.Mel Beck Potomac
Greedy Wall Street traders. Political favors to preferred businesses. Complex financial instruments designed to game the system. You might use these phrases to describe the sub-prime mortgage mess. However, I’m using them here to describe the proposed cap and trade system being considered in Congress.
Cap and trade creates a brand new marketplace that not only brings opportunity for investors, but also opportunity for manipulation, unscrupulous trading practices and backroom deals. The complex trading system cap and trade contemplates will inevitably provide ample room for the Bernie Madoff’s of the world to make a quick buck.
We can do better. We can accomplish the same goals of cap and trade—i.e., financially quantifying carbon emissions—by simply placing a tax on them. It’s simpler for consumers to understand and more predictable for companies to implement into the future. And there’d be no room for manipulation by market insiders.
I think all Montanans should urge Sens. Baucus and Tester to oppose cap and trade and come up with a better solution.Jocelyn Galt Missoula
Cigarettes, alcohol, meth type drugs,
Hunger, poverty, air and water manmade unclean,
Hate, violence, prejudice, greed,
Religions, politics, taxes, need,
Afghanistan, terrorism, Iraq, war…
Secondhand smoke.Charles McGrath Missoula
We all have life changing moments (see “Life-changing event” in Letters, Sept. 24, 2009). One of mine was when I found the remains of my first dog, Pluto, a great big old dopey yellow dog with a mild disposition and notable lack of judgment. He had been lured out into the dark by a pretty little coyote bitch and then her and her pals ate him! You can imagine my horror at this discovery and the resulting animosity toward coyotes.
Over the many years since I have hunted and trapped many kinds of animals, I’ve gone out on several occasions with one slow-witted old blue tick hound that I’m afraid I must confess to owning. In spite of the dog’s experience, he continued to chase cats for many, many miles up and down mountains for no reward other than getting said cat up a tree and letting him go. I used that same trap to end the days of many nasty ol’ coyotes! I never did catch any other pets except for feral cats, fattened up on songbirds, to be spayed/neutered and checked out. On the contrary, 90 percent of the animals I trapped were exactly the species I set the traps for. I always checked them promptly to avoid loss of prime hides (mostly to coyotes), as well as to lessen the suffering of the animals. After a rather touching close-up experience with a young bobcat, I quit hunting/trapping cats but still would gladly teach my grandchildren all the natural hunter-gatherer skills I have at my command, including proper trapping methodology. Nature is not merciful nor is it vengeful, it just is. Please enjoy the ride.Bob Petersen Missoula
From the get-go, Montana has been ahead of the curve on the wilderness debate. It’s no news to most readers that Montana’s wild lands were the inspiration for some of our nation’s most visionary wilderness philosophers and advocates, and that several of the first wilderness areas designated along with the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act fell within our borders. In following the story of Bob Marshall and other Wilderness heroes in his 1967 book, Wilderness and the American Mind, Nash would agree that Montana played a leading role in helping to shape our nation’s evolving perceptions of wild landscapes.Five years after Nash’s seminal publication, Montana again took the helm of wilderness policy and guided it in another direction by creating the “first citizen’s wilderness”—the Scapegoat—which marked the first time that Congress chose to act on a wilderness recommendation not made by the Forest Service. Since 1972, the example set by residents of Lincoln and surrounding communities has been replicated countless times and in all corners of the United State, further contributing to the growth of wilderness in America.
Today, Montana is poised to push the envelope and rechart the course of federal land management once more—we are literally writing the next chapter of Roderick Nash’s book. The pages have been years in the making—they have endured edits from all sides of the political and economic equation, have suffered from rips and tears, and have gone through multiple drafts. At last, a collection of authors—fed up with years of bickering, inaction and failed attempts at communication—have come together to finish the installment.
Building upon Montana’s traditions of independence and cooperation, the authors—timber companies like Pyramid Mountain, representatives of motorized and passive recreation interests, conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited and the Montana Wilderness Association, watershed organizations like the Blackfoot Challenge, and others—broke the long stalemate and decided the status quo was not good enough. What the authors have devised is the new paradigm of public lands legislation: place-based, collaborative proposals that reflect the needs of a range of stakeholders who are willing to come to the table, work together, and produce results.
What the authors of this next chapter in Nash’s saga understand is that the gridlock that has characterized public lands management needs to change.
Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act represents an opportunity on the scale of the designation of the Scapegoat in 1972—a chance to make wilderness designation a local affair, and one that benefits the full range of people who call Montana home. It is the basis for a new chapter on the role of wilderness in the American mind.Zach Porter Missoula
I am writing to support Sen. Jon Tester’s efforts to work with Montanans to find creative forest management solutions with his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. Clearly, “business as usual” forest management is not working as evidenced by important Montana wild lands left without permanent wilderness protection; Montana timber industry jobs and infrastructure being lost or put at risk; forest professionals unable to move ahead with restoration and management projects that make good sense and are badly needed for Montana’s forest health; and a legacy of mistrust between various interests with a stake in how Montana public lands are managed.
Thanks goes to the diverse group of collaborative partners who stepped up and did the hard work of building relationships with those who have different views. These groups have worked hard to find the common ground needed to create workable solutions to Montana’s forest management questions.
Thanks to Tester for listening to Montanans and moving forward with the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act legislation.Mark Vosburgh Missoula