Thursday, May 27, 2010

Read the wording

Posted on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

In a recent letter, Michele Reinhart expressed support for Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation bill (see “Concerns addressed,” May 13, 2010). As a wildland conservation advocate, one point in particular caught my attention. She wrote, “Personally I have been heartened by recent clarifications that these mechanical treatments will be focused in heavily roaded areas…”

I wish I had Michele’s confidence on that point.

The bill, S-1470, says that “priority” would be given to areas where “road densities exceed 1.5 miles per square mile of land” for the logging and road building projects. This priority appears, promisingly, to lean away from roadless areas. The bill also requires that the project area “shall not” exceed 1.5 miles of road per square mile when done. This is where expenses are incurred; it is not cheap to reclaim miles of road. This weighs heavily in the direction of focusing logging and roading projects on areas already at or below the required end-ceiling of 1.5 miles of road per square mile, possibly taking logs with no road restoration required.

In my experience, when priorities come up against money, money has a way of quickly eroding priorities.

An explicitly required project area with a beginning minimum road density of, say, 3 miles of road per square mile would ensure that projects went into heavily roaded areas and that the public would benefit from at least 1.5 miles of road restoration to reach the 1.5 miles per square mile required maximum at the end of a project.

All clarifications or assurances aside, S-1470 is in print, and it is the only real touchstone we have on this critical issue for the future of some of Montana’s most biologically important wildlands. The way the wording stands and the world turns, the gravity of money will outweigh the high sounding priority. I’d love to be wrong about that.

Larry Campbell

Darby

Defining terrorism

Posted on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

In publications by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “domestic terrorism” is defined as the use of force or violence “committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Given the FBI’s definition, Montana clearly suffered a terrorist attack when unknown persons firebombed two medical marijuana clinics on the eve of a Billings City Council vote to place a moratorium on the licensing of new clinics.

Yet, a search of news articles related to the incident failed to yield a single news story that included the words “terror” or “terrorism.” Furthermore, according to a spokesperson at the FBI office in Billings, the FBI is not involved in the investigation and does not consider this an act of terror.

Similarly, when anti-tax activist Joseph Stack flew his single-engine plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, in February, the mainstream media and authorities quickly denied any connection to “terrorist activity.”

Meanwhile, recent amateurish, unsuccessful attempted bombings on Christmas Eve and in Times Square last week have dominated the mainstream media and garnered top-level counter-terrorism resources.

All this raises important questions that we as citizens should be asking. Is the definition of what constitutes a “terrorist act” being applied evenhandedly by the media and law enforcement agencies? Are all crimes that technically fit the legal definition of terrorism being treated as such, or only those committed by dark-skinned people of Middle Eastern or African descent?

Derek Goldman

Missoula

Count on Crowley

Posted on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

House District 94 has an open seat that is being sought after by longtime community and environmental activist and former City Council member Lou Ann Crowley and newcomer Ellie Hill. It is wonderful to have two good candidates, but we can only elect one on June 8. For us the choice is Lou Ann because of her ability to work compassionately with people of all persuasions, her vision and her experience gained from initiating and/or being part of various Missoula endeavors since 1978.

Clearly, Lou Ann has left an imprint on our community and environmental causes, which will benefit Missoulians long into the future. Below are a few examples of Lou Ann’s many notable accomplishments.

Her “people concerns” led to co-founding Hospice of Missoula. She currently chairs the Food Access Committee of CFAC, which oversees both the Farm to School Program and facilitates the Food Stamp Credit Card program at the Missoula Farmers’ Market. She is a board member of the Women’s Foundation of Montana, which funds organizations that invest in economic self-sufficiency for women and brighter futures for girls.

Community service has also always been a big part of Lou Ann’s life; she was on the City Council between 1996 and 2006. While serving as chair of the Conservation Committee, Lou Ann worked on the open space purchases of Fort Missoula and Mount Sentinel properties as well as the first bicycle and pedestrian access trails. She organized the Truck Share Program at the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project to help members have affordable access to a truck. The project earned Missoula in Motion’s top award for sustainable transportation in 2008. Most recently, she spearheaded passage of the city’s Dark Sky Ordinance.

Lou Ann will serve us well in the Montana Legislature. The June 8 primary will decide which of these two candidates goes to Helena. We ask you to join us in supporting Lou Ann Crowley.

Ian M. Lange

Sue and John Talbot

Steve M. Adler

Missoula

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let the endorsements begin

Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

For the past eight years, Beth Baker and I have served on a committee in Helena to increase access to justice for all Montanans, regardless of income. Beth has volunteered hundreds of hours to this cause, despite her busy law practice. In her 25 years of legal experience, Beth has handled more than three dozen cases before the Montana Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. Without question, Beth possesses the qualities required to sit on Montana’s Supreme Court—a deep respect for the constitution, comprehensive knowledge of the law and independent thinking. Beth knows that the law matters—that the Supreme Court’s decisions impact the daily lives of all Montanans. She is dedicated to the idea of public service, and would make a fine addition to the five men and one woman who currently serve on the court. Please join me in voting for Beth Baker on June 8!

Amy E. Hall

Helena

And the attacks

Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Let me see if I can get this straight. Tyler Gernant, candidate for U.S. Congress, was born in Montana, and left Montana when he was 4 years old. Then he returned to Montana in 2004 to spend three years in law school. This means that he’s been out of school for three years.

Tyler doesn’t have a stake in Montana. He’s only spent three years as a working adult in Montana. The rest of his time was spent out of state or still in school.

Does anyone else have trouble taking him seriously?

Jennifer Wagner

Billings

Deadline approaching

Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Farmers and ranchers who want to get in on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year have less than a month to apply at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. The CSP rewards farmers, ranchers and forestry producers for maintaining existing conservation practices and for adopting additional practices on cropland, grassland, improved pasture, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland and tribal lands. A supplemental payment will also be made for those willing to adopt resource-conserving crop rotations. This program pays producers for clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency and other natural resource benefits.

The CSP is a continuous sign-up program that has periodic cut-off dates for ranking applications—and June 11 is the deadline for this year. Applications can be filed at your local NRCS office in Bozeman.

The Center for Rural Affairs is also encouraging farmers, ranchers and others to call the Center’s Farm Bill Helpline to learn more about the program and application process as well as to share information on barriers farmers and ranchers encounter during the sign-up. Potential CSP applicants can call the Farm Bill Helpline at (402) 687-2100 or send an e-mail to tracib@cfra.org.

The CSP has had a tremendous national impact on conservation practices on working lands, with 13 million acres enrolled across the country.

John Crabtree

Center for Rural Affairs

Omaha, Neb.

Assurances are here

Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Former Congressman Pat Williams said it well at the panel discussion concerning Sen. Tester’s forest bill on April 8. “This is the first [wilderness] meeting in 30 years where there weren’t pickets outside and 400 people in the room,” he said.

The fact that this bill creates new political space for Montanans to converse, and more importantly, to advance actual solutions for public land management is reason enough for some people to get behind Sen. Tester. Others however, have needed some assurance that logging measures won’t have negative consequences on the ground or that the Forest Service won’t be trumped by local initiatives.

Those assurances are arriving. At the panel discussion on April 8, Tracy Stone-Manning made it clear that “mechanical treatment” would be defined in the legislation before it passed. That’s been a major concern of some critics and a small stumbling block in the way of progress. Thank goodness it’s being addressed alongside other concerns.

All Montanans should recognize that we can ill afford to fail on this one. A collaborative effort like this one is uncommon and may not be easy to conjure again if this bill is stalled.

 

Nathan Kimpell

Missoula

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Concerns addressed

Posted on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Judging by the civil and substantive discussion and considerable support from Montanans for the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, it may well be one of the most relevant and timely pieces of natural resource legislation to grace our great state in a very long time.

Rightfully, there have been concerns raised about certain aspects of the bill. Fortunately, Sen. Tester and his staff are thoughtfully addressing and exploring all suggestions. When the Forest Service raised questions last December about mandates for mechanical treatment of timber, Tester and his staff went to work to address those questions. A few months later, the Secretary of Agriculture, who oversees the Forest Service, came to Montana to give Tester’s bill his vote of confidence.

Personally, I have been heartened by recent clarifications that these mechanical treatments will be focused in heavily roaded areas and that projects will preclude any new permanent roads. I’m glad that others—including the Forest Service—are also getting more comfort as the process continues.

I support continued discussion on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and I look forward to its passage and implementation.

 

Michele K. Reinhart

State Representative

House District 97

Missoula

Criticizing Rehberg

Posted on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Although 99 percent of Montanans will experience no increases in their Medicare tax, Congressman Denny Rehberg has lashed out at the increased tax that would only affect those earning more than $200,000 annually ($250,000 for married couples) who currently pay no tax on unearned income. Rehberg, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, erroneously predicted that middle class families were at risk if they sell their homes or rent out property. Most Montanans will see no tax increase in the new health insurance reform law. Unwilling to support a measure that will enable the uninsured and underinsured to obtain insurance protection, Rehberg and his wealthy friends would see a modest increase in the Medicare tax they would pay.

Obviously, multi-millionaire Rehberg is positioning himself for a run at Jon Tester’s Senate seat or possibly that of the governor—and he is doing favors now for those who will lend him their support in 2012. In the meantime, Rehberg has voted against reform of the health care system, opposed measures to protect the environment, rejected the conservation-minded energy bill, voted against Supreme Court nominee Sonja Sotomayor and vigorously opposed the economic stimulus package.

Who says Rehberg has acted on behalf of Montana and its people? After 10 years in Congress, Rehberg has scammed Montanans long enough. It’s time to send Denny back to the ranch where he can do some useful work.

John Shellenberger

Bozeman

Climate change critic

Posted on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 4:00 AM

In her recent letter to the editor, Catherine Haug cites NASA in her global warming alarmist diatribe (see “Four big hitters,” April 15, 2010). NASA is led by a corrupt alarmist named James Hansen. John Goetz of Climate Audit analyzed the way NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies calculates global temperatures, and found that NASA has changed published figures hundreds of times, resulting in an artificial increase in warming. The single largest increase was 0.27 degrees, which occurred when the temperature anomaly for August 2006 was raised from 0.43 degrees to 0.70—an increase of 63 percent. This is more than one-third of the total increase in global surface temperature that has occurred over the last century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and it reveals a large global warming bias.

The United Kingdom’s Hadley Center for Climate Studies found that global temperatures have decreased since 1998, and that the Earth is not much warmer now than in 1878 or 1941. Data from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems, which both use highly accurate and comprehensive satellite data for measuring global temperatures, agree with Hadley. They found global temperature declining over the past decade or so, with only a slight increase above the 30-year average from 1978 to 2008.

Haug cites climate change in Montana as purported proof of human-caused warming, which isn’t scientific, since warming and cooling has been occurring for millions of years prior to the latest warming period. And she got it wrong: she claims 50 years of warming, but the Earth cooled from about 1945–1975, leading to forecasts of an impending ice age.

Roger Stang

Missoula

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