AWR Blog

contact Michael Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936

Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies blasted Senator Tester’s logging bill as turning over management of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Three Rivers Ranger District in the Kootenai National Forest to the Timber industry. Garrity said, “In the past Congress has left it to the agency, the professional foresters, to determine the allowable sale quantity on national forests. Congress, even under republican control, rejected efforts to mandate logging levels because Congress understood that changing conditions on-the-ground make it very unwise to mandate from Washington DC how much logging should take place on a national forests in Montana. Congress has left decisions like these to local agency people to make, after going through NEPA and pubic involvement.”

Garrity continued, “With the exception of the decision to designate wilderness which is a special case, Congress has left most decisions to the discretion to local Forest Service personal. Congress has recognized that it is not a body of professional land managers. Senator Tester is saying that the timber industry is now more important than the local Forest Service professionals and all other multiple uses of these forests such as use of clean water, hunting and fishing.”

Garrity said, “Had there been a mandated cut forty years ago, the Scapegoat Wilderness and the Great Bear Wilderness would have been logged and roaded as there were plans on the books to do so.”

Garrity explained, “Even the allowable sales quantities set by the national forests are not mandated levels, nor should they be. The levels set in the 1980 plans have proven to be far too high and it is good the Forest Service was not compelled to meet those levels. In fact, brave public foresters like Orville Daniels on the Lolo National Forest resisted industry pressure to log at those levels 20 years ago and in so doing preserved grizzly and bull trout habitat in Montana that would be lost today.”

Garrity continued, “Mandated cuts in Senator Tester’s logging bill ignore current ecological and economic realities. Mandating a logging level is foolish in an economic downturn. Where are they going to sell of this timber? They aren’t building enough houses to use this wood. Senator Tester is also putting taxpayers on the hook at a cost of over $1400 per acre for each timber sale. Losing money subsidizing timber sales is not going to pay for any restoration.”

Garrity said, “If Senator Tester’s logging bill passes it will result in the death of the few remaining grizzly bears in the Yaak, and could destroy the great fishing we have in the Big Hole River and the elk hunting throughout the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.”

Garrity concluded “The last thing we should do is politicize public land decisions even more than they are today. Senator Tester’s logging bill is a political fix that bears almost no resemblance to the on-the-ground reality. As imperfect as our current system is, it is based upon a scientific model of professionalism that allows for public input and citizen involvement. Senator Tester’s logging bill is based on corporate welfare and putting the demands of the timber industry over grizzly bears, fishing and hunting. Congress should reject turning the Forest Service over to the timber industry and should instead pass the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 980) which would designate all of the roadless areas (24 million acres) in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, create 2300 jobs restoring our forests and save taxpayers $245 million over the next ten years by stopping subsided logging of roadless areas.”



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