Thursday, July 29, 2010

By the numbers

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

Lets look at some facts and numbers that deal with Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA). It covers three national forests, all with high percentages of roadless acreage. (The Beaverhead-Deerlodge has 1.8 million roadless acres, the most in the state.) On the three national forests—the Kootenai, Lolo and Beaverhead-Deerlodge—there is approximately 3.3 million acres of roadless lands. Under the FJRA, approximately 600,000 acres would be designated “wilderness,” while approximately 2.4 million acres of mostly low-elevation, diverse roadless lands would be designated yellow or “open to timber harvest.” The new wilderness is mostly disconnected high elevation country with little timber value.

Perhaps the most eye-catching trend with the FJRA is that this bill consistently reduces roadless acreage. The West Big Hole Inventoried Roadless Area would be reduced from 133,562 acres into two separate 20,000-plus-acre tracts, with a new ATV road separating the areas for a total of 44,000-plus-acres of “wilderness” accessible only by hiking or riding for miles on ATV road. To make matters worse, hikers and stock users would have to hike and ride on an ATV road to even access the reduced roadless lands. Tester was the one who decided the amount of wilderness acreage, not some “collaborative process.” The corrupt Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership suggested a paltry offering of wilderness that Tester the politician reduced to the current proposals.

The reason this bill is supported by the timber industry is because they never dreamed they would be able to cut in low elevation roadless lands again. Tester is working hard to make their dream a reality. Apparently his administration believes if they flood the Montana media with letters of support for this logging bill, it will pass. You may have fooled some impressionable college students, but those of us who work on and know the land, we know you’re full of it, Jon.

Tester’s FJRA eliminates public involvement, the Forest Service and environmental laws and policies.

David Torkelson


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