Thursday, April 29, 2010

The right road

Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Most of the debate around the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act has focused on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest. That’s understandable because it’s the largest forest in the lower 48 states. The forest’s 3.3 million acres include 16 mountain ranges. Just about everyone has a favorite place in that forest, so it’s not surprising that everyone seems to have an opinion on the bill.

What most people don’t know is that there are also 4,800 miles of road on the forest and the only legislation that proposes to do anything about them is Sen. Tester’s bill. The bill contains provisions requiring that timber and restoration projects reduce road densities to less than 1.5 miles of road per square mile. That’s a very high standard that reflects the input of conservation groups and sportsmen groups in the development of this legislation.

Probably more than any other forest in Montana, the Beaverhead Deerlodge is a fisherman’s paradise. Tester’s bill wouldn’t just keep it that way, it would make it better by removing old roads and improving fisheries as a result.

Tony Sadiku

Missoula

Dear race baiters…

Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I’m standing up to the left’s smear artists and race baiters (the sheep) in their bullying tactic to discredit the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party. Don’t forget, my Christian bashing friends, only a few short years ago, a bully and his co-dependent followers convinced his entire population to load a race of people (religious group) onto cattle trains and lead them to slaughter. America’s “left” feeds from the very same philosophical well.

Freedom means freedom from government coercion. Generosity is part of a free human’s character. Every social program that forces me to pay money to the government to subsidize out-of-wedlock birth, passive restraint dentistry on toddlers, the widespread removal of children from family groups, drugging children to make them passive, failing teachers, a criminal justice industry where the debris is swept, forces me to subsidize their crimes against humanity.

They force us to leave our huge natural resources to waste here while we disrupt the culture of people overseas who would rather be left alone, then they send my neighbor’s kid over there to kill or be killed—defending my “national interest.” I’m done going along with this.

The welfare/warfare state created over the last 100 years by gains from the left (co-dependents, control freaks and bullies), in both the Republican and Democratic parties, uses government to force others to get their priorities straight, resulting in tyranny and treating humans like animals. If you want to understand the human nature behind tyranny, read Animal Farm by George Orwell or Philosophy: Who Needs It? by Ayn Rand. Both authors spent their lives trying to explain the horror of statism, by any name. Or just rent One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. When you see Nurse Ratched, think Nancy Pelosi.

To those trying to steal my grandbabies birthright—Come on! I’ll meet you in the political arena. You cannot justify your bloody history, so you resort to smears and lies. This battle is an intellectual one for the hearts and minds of America, but one that decent people must win. When the bleating sheep couldn’t drown the voices, the pigs sent vicious dogs out to rip the complaining animals to shreds. Let freedom ring!

Rena Wetherett

Missoula

Broad strokes

Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

My, my, my, how sure Connie Poten is in what she wrote in her April 15 letter (see “Clamping down”) and how wrong she is in many of her statements. She called anyone who says that trapping is not indiscriminate, unfair, cruel and wasteful a liar. I personally know trappers in the following professions who might take issue with that statement: deputy sheriff, lawyer, doctor, financial advisor and biologist.

She says that trappers throw away two animals for every one they keep, yet cites no authority. I personally trapped beaver this year and caught no animals other than beaver. I also know quite a few trappers and know of none who fit the profile she presents.

Trapping is no more loosely regulated than the recreational activities of hunting and fishing. I do not know anyone who waits two weeks to check foothold traps where the animal is expected to be alive. Martin sets may not be checked for two weeks, but they are dead and frozen, so I ask you: What does it matter if they are dead for a day, week or month as long as there is no waste of fur, which is prohibited by regulation?

 

What I do think is odd is that she is so very incensed by a false conviction that two animals are wasted for every one utilized under the status quo, but she advocates for a new regulation that mandates that all damage control on public land be done by department employees and that the entire animal be disposed of (wasted) or used for public benefit, which is undefined.

If she will admit that there are inexperienced or unethical slob hunters who do litter, violate regulations, wound animals and sometimes lose or waste animals, I will admit that there are inexperienced or unethical trappers who do the same. If she does not care to tar all hunters with that brush, then I submit that neither can she tar all trappers.

Passenger pigeons were extirpated by hunting and beaver were nearly extirpated by trapping, but this was before modern management. Since modern management, neither hunting nor trapping has extirpated any species.

I urge everyone to go to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website and go to the topic of trapping. Once there, read “Montana’s Information Sheet” and “Trapping and Furbearer Management in North American Wildlife Conservation.” Weigh the credentials, study the data and decide based on facts.

Rick Hawk

Kalispell

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Respect wolves

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I have attended wolf panel discussions and hearings, read op-eds and articles, and done my own scientifically based research. I would like to share what I have learned.

Introducing wolves into the ecosystem does not even begin to compare to what the Europeans did to the buffalo to starve the natives. I heard that from a hunter, with obviously very poor hunting skills, in a panel discussion last night. What it does compare to is what the Europeans did to the wolf that caused a reintroduction to be necessary to begin to rebalance the ecosystem. Yes, the wolf is native to the area. No, the domestic livestock is not. The domestic livestock is why the natives of all species were driven off the land, for some to the point of extinction, and others, who were able to endure, have been struggling ever since.

Many members of the ranching community who state they are third or fourth generation ranchers have refused to learn how to live with the native inhabitants of the land and insist on getting handouts for their negligence. Instead of handing out money that taxpayers are being forced to foot, how about handing out education so they can take responsibility for their insistence on remaining in a place that they refuse to learn how to live in harmony with?

The numbers state that ranchers lose over 90 percent of their livestock to weather, disease and reproductive complications, not wolves. The native wildlife has been overcome with disease, bullets and poison so invasive, non-native livestock can continue to destroy the ecosystem they were brought into.

Elk numbers are up! “Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009. Montana herds are 66 percent larger, Wyoming is up 35 percent, and Idaho is up 5 percent,” wrote the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on April 27, 2009. Why can’t the hunters see them? Wolves make prey scatter, and elk are not grazing in big numbers in wide open spaces any more. This actually improves the landscape and allows the browsed vegetation to recover. Wolves balance the ecosystem, keeping numbers in check. These wolves are not the big imported species that some claim they are. An Idaho Department of Fish & Game wolf expert says the average weight of the 188 wolves shot by hunters in Idaho averaged less than 100 pounds.

The wolves are back in their territory, not yours. This is good for the health of the ecosystem. Respect should be given, not death.

Jennifer Nitz

Missoula

Bad precedent

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is the first step toward dissolving 100-plus years of comprehensive national forest management acts and regulations. While there are many Montanans who welcome this, I, for one, do not.

Choosing selected interest groups to create a management plan for any national forest, calling it a collaboration and then trying to find a way to get it through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to include in an Omnibus Bill so as not to be scrutinized by the rest of Congress is politics as usual. I thought Sen. Tester was not going to buy into such politics and now, here he is the leader behind it.

National forests are public lands to be managed for a variety of benefits. Those benefits are not just for the people within the locale of the particular national forest or those who make a living through the wood products industry. Nor are the national forests of Montana just for the benefit of Montanans. They benefit our nation as a whole through opportunities for sustaining healthy watersheds and ecosystems, enjoying scenic beauty and wilderness, creating a myriad of recreation activities that sustain economies, providing wood products and much more.

Allowing a chosen few interests to decide how and which parts of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Three Rivers and Lolo National Forests will be managed without even including the natural resource professionals of the Forest Service, who manage those lands, turns our public national forests into “regional interest forests.” If Tester’s bill were to pass, it will no doubt set precedent for the creation of other regional interest forests throughout the United States. Forty-two of 50 states have national forest lands administered by the Forest Service.

Tester’s bill states that one of its purposes is to reduce gridlock and promote local collaboration in national forest management. Rather than creating this end run around the agency ascribed to manage these lands, begin with including the natural resource professionals of the Forest Service at the collaborative table to find a means to do this without compromising the integrity of the national forest system as a whole.

Send this act back to the drawing board. National forest lands are public lands not just for a few selected interest groups of Montana or any other state.

Ellie Sigrist

Missoula

Help is homicide

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The pro-assisted-suicide organization Compassion and Choices (C&C) is telling Montana doctors that they face no penalties for assisting suicides. But its statements are contradictory. C&C attorney Kathryn Tucker called it “shameful” to warn suicide doctors that they face possible murder charges. But C&C President Barbara Combs Lee refused to identify actual suicides “to prevent investigations into the cases.”

Watch what C&C does, not what it says. Nothing in the Montana Supreme Court’s decision prevents prosecutors from investigating and charging suicide-assisters with murder. Under the decision, assisting a suicide continues to be defined as homicide. The court merely said that in some narrow circumstances a physician might (or might not) be able to raise a “consent defense.” But a consent defense is for defendants already charged with murder. In real life, suicides involve patients who suffer pressures, abuse, impaired decision-making and other vulnerabilities that don’t even qualify as “consent.” And nothing prevents lawsuits against doctors and institutions over those messy details.

Jeff Laszloffy

President

Montana Family Foundation

Laurel

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Four big hitters

Posted on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

NASA data shows our last decade was the warmest since records began in the late 19th century. I believe this is a sign of times to come, and immediate action is required to save humanity and our planet.

 

In Montana, 50 years of evidence indicates rising temperatures foster up to a 40 percent decline in our springtime snowpack. Our springtime peak river-flows now come an average of two weeks earlier. Warming annual temperatures play a principal role in the death of forests from bark beetle infestations. Scientists report links between climate change and the frequency and severity of wildfires in the northern Rockies.

The world looks to the United States for leadership. Here are a few big hitters we can address:

1. Limiting access to fertilizers and other farm chemicals would significantly reduce power consumption by reducing their manufacture capacity, and by causing a major shift toward localized, healthful, organic food and livestock production.

2. Modernizing and expanding our train system will go a long way toward reducing our energy consumption. Trains consume far less energy to transport an equivalent load by trucks, planes and cars.

 

3. Investing in renewable energy would generate more than three times more jobs than equivalent investment in the fossil fuel industry.

 

4. Comprehensive climate and energy policies could save businesses nearly $130 billion a year by 2030.

Failure to take action on climate change will have drastic impacts on American families who depend on farming, with a repeat of the Dust Bowl and famine years of the 1930s. A world wracked by drought and famine would be disastrous.

I urge Sens. Baucus and Tester to support passage of comprehensive climate and renewable energy legislation this year.

Catherine Haug

Bigfork

Heed the headcount

Posted on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

With two or three reminders about filling out your census forms coming to a mailbox near you, people seem to forget that this is nothing more than a headcount, and not an information gathering drive collecting data on all Americans.

The U.S. Constitution provides for this headcount every 10 years. Libertari-an National Chairman Bill Redpath points out, “There is no need for Congress to collect additional information such as names, races, ages, sexes, or home ownership status. Unfortunately, the federal government wants to use the additional information to fine tune its control over the lives and money of the American people”. The only question of the 10 questions on the form that matters is the first one: How many people live at this residence?

By law all information collected by the Census Bureau is supposed to be kept private, but our government never follows its laws anyway. David Kopel of the libertarian Cato Institute pointed out that during World War I the Census Bureau handed over lists of names and addresses so the federal government could search for draft resisters. And, shockingly, during World War II, the Census Bureau told the Justice Department which neighborhoods had high concentrations of Japanese-Americans. The federal government then used that information to find Japanese-Americans and imprison them in concentration camps. I’m sure there are other examples as well.

A simple headcount doesn’t need 10 questions or cost us $14 billion. Isn’t it time for a change?

Mike Fellows

Montana Libertarian Party

Missoula

Clamping down

Posted on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Ethical hunters say that the prolonged torture animals suffer in traps is worse than their worst hunting nightmare. My hunting years were lucky: We practiced, we shot only when the target was clear in our sights, went for clean, quick, efficient kills and got them. We never threw away a dead animal. But trappers aren’t there when an animal gets snapped in a trap. They don’t know what kind of animal they will find in their traps, up to weeks later. They toss two animals away for every one they keep. Anyone who claims traps aren’t indiscriminate, unfair, cruel and wasteful is a liar.

The claim that I-160, the Montana Trap-Free Public Lands Initiative, will unleash marauding nuisance animals is false. The overwhelming number of incidents involving nuisance animals is on private land. I-160 allows trapping on private lands and on public lands for health, safety and science. It allows the removal of a beaver, for instance, building a dam that might flood a road.

 

I-160 will not end trapping. Two-thirds of Montana will remain open for trapping. I-160 opens public lands to the public. Trappers will continue to get licenses and hire out to FWP and homeowners to rid yards and pastures from so-called nuisance animals.

Trapping is regulated solely as recreation. Trappers’ anecdotes are not scientific data—they are stories. The regulations are loose because trappers wrote them. Checking a trap within 48 hours is a suggestion, not a rule. The secretive nature of trapping protected it until so many pets got injured and killed in traps. Traps kill endangered species and raptors—a felony for anyone but a trapper. Except for lynx, trapped non-target animals–even if reported—aren’t recorded by the FWP. Only 34 percent of trappers bother to return surveys.

There’s no honest defense for trapping on public lands.

Connie Poten

Missoula

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coal concerns

Posted on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 4:00 AM

With 70 percent of respondents to a recent online poll voting against developing the proposed Otter Creek coal mine in southeastern Montana, our governor, whom the national press has dubbed the “Coal Cowboy,” has decided to extort support for the proposed mine from county commissioners, telling them that he will not release their federal stimulus money unless they write him a letter stating they support tearing open the pristine Otter Creek valley to create a huge, open-pit coal mine (see “Coal coercion,” April 1, 2010). Does the fact that there is no connection between federal stimulus funds and the proposed coal mine make this act of extortion even worse? You decide. But it can’t be much worse than the fact that our governor is supporting the development of a huge new coal mine (when burning coal is the biggest contributor to catastrophic climate change) at a time when climate change is killing millions of Montana’s pines, causing larger summer fires, damaging our winter sports industry and our summer snow-melt water supply, and causing more of the 90- and 100-degree summer days that are making it uncomfortable for us all and are seriously threatening our farmers’ and ranchers’ chances for survival. Gov. Schweitzer’s failure to exercise wise leadership is leading to extraordinarily damaging consequences for us all.

Jonathan Matthews

Helena

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