Jun 13 2016

Gov. Bullock unveils public lands agenda; opposes public lands transfers

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Some upbeat news from the Montana Wilderness Association . . .

Today [June 9] was a good day for Montana.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock today unveiled a pro-public lands agenda that not only doubles down on rejecting the transfer of federal lands to the state, but also creates opportunities to expand conservation and recreation on our public lands.

“This is an issue that transcends party politics in Montana,” he said at a public lands event held at Riverfront Park in Billings. “It isn’t about what Democrats or Republicans or Independents want. It’s about doing what’s right for Montanans.”

The agenda includes four major initiatives aimed at increasing access, building Montana’s outdoor recreation economy, and supporting collaborative solutions for natural resource management. They include:

  • Rejecting all effort to transfer our national public lands to individual states or private interests
  • Creating of an Office of Outdoor Recreation
  • Creating a state “public access specialist” position
  • Calling on the legislature to unfreeze and fully restore Habitat Montana

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Jun 13 2016

Northwest tribal leaders condemn oil train risks

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Tribal leaders are not happy about oil trains passing through sensitive areas like the Columbia River Gorge . . .

Leaders of several Pacific Northwest tribes gathered Thursday near the site of last week’s fiery oil train wreck in Oregon to condemn the shipping of fossil fuels through the Columbia River Gorge, a scenic homeland and sacred fishing ground for the Yakama Nation and others over the millennia.

“We do not want fossil fuels at all coming through the Columbia River Gorge — at all,” said Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy. “We truly see what is at hand. … We are sacrificing and putting at risk the long-term benefit and well-being of our nations, our children, our grandchildren, those yet to come.”

A 96-car train carrying volatile crude oil from the Northern Plains’ Bakken region to Tacoma, Washington, derailed June 3 along the Columbia River, which forms most of the boundary between Washington and Oregon. No one was hurt, but four cars caught fire, prompting the evacuation of a nearby school, forcing the closure of an interstate, and enraging local officials and residents. Some of the oil made it to the river, where it was captured by absorbent booms, officials said.

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Jun 13 2016

Water-bottling plant opponents file appeal with county

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Opposition to the proposed water bottling plant near Creston grows . . .

Concern over a proposed water-bottling plant near Creston has sprung from a trickle to a flood as 30 nearby water users push the project through an additional layer of state review, while a recently formed organization working to block the plant’s development has asked Flathead County commissioners to issue a moratorium on commercial water bottling operations.

Residents opposed to the bottling plant along the Flathead River say the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation failed to adequately assess the impacts to other water users when it granted a preliminary water right permit earlier this year.

The opposition is centered on Lew Weaver, the owner of Montana Artesian Water Co., who is seeking a water right permit from the state to pump up to 710 acre-feet, or 191.6 million gallons of water annually from an underground aquifer near Egan Slough along the Flathead River.

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Jun 07 2016

Study: There have been no ‘pristine’ landscapes anywhere for thousands of years

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Ross Creek Cedars Area, Kootenai NF - W. K. Walker

Ross Creek Cedars Area, Kootenai NF – W. K. Walker

Here’s a mid-week thought piece. I don’t know if it will hold up over the long term, but a study was recently released by a group associated with the University of Oxford claiming that “‘Pristine’ landscapes simply do not exist anywhere in the world today and, in most cases, have not existed for at least several thousand years.” This was based on a study of archeological evidence. Late last year, a research team reached similar conclusions for North America based on species distribution studies.

Personally, the word “study” in this context gives me the itch, but there are some interesting ideas here.

Anyway, here’s the lead-in. Check it out if you wish . . .

‘Pristine’ landscapes simply do not exist anywhere in the world today and, in most cases, have not existed for at least several thousand years, says a new study in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). An exhaustive review of archaeological data from the last 30 years provides details of how the world’s landscapes have been shaped by repeated human activity over many thousands of years. It reveals a pattern of significant, long-term, human influence on the distribution of species across all of the earth’s major occupied continents and islands.

The paper by lead author Dr Nicole Boivin from the University of Oxford and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, with researchers from the UK, US, and Australia, suggests that archaeological evidence has been missing from current debates about conservation priorities. To say that societies before the Industrial Revolution had little effect on the environment or diversity of species is mistaken, argues the paper. It draws on new datasets using ancient DNA, stable isotopes, and microfossils, as well as the application of new statistical and computational methods. It shows that many living species of plants, trees and animals that thrive today are those that were favoured by our ancestors; and that large-scale extinctions started thousands of years ago due to overhunting or change of land use by humans…

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Jun 07 2016

Flathead Forest releases draft Forest Plan environmental impact statement

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Lake in Flathead National Forest

Two things here: the official press release (including the humongous, unabbreviated title) and a link to an article in the Hungry Horse News providing an articulate summary . . .

Release of Draft Revised Plan for the Flathead National Forest, the Forest Plan Amendments for Helena and Lewis and Clark, Lolo, and Kootenai National Forests and Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today released the draft revised land and resource management plan (draft forest plan) and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Flathead National Forest for public review and comment. In addition to the effects of the draft forest plan, the DEIS includes the environmental consequences of the proposed forest plan amendments to incorporate habitat management direction for grizzly bears for the Helena-Lewis & Clark, Lolo, and Kootenai National Forests. Written and electronic comments will be accepted for 120 days.

Today’s publication of a Notice of Availability of the draft documents in the Federal Register begins the public comment period on both the draft forest plan, amendments and DEIS. A total of two open houses are scheduled in Kalispell and Missoula during the 120-day comment period. These open houses are intended as an opportunity to visit with individual planning team members and review maps of management area allocations by alternatives. The location and schedule of these open houses will be publicized in local newspapers and can be found on the Flathead National Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/fpr. The draft documents are available for review and comment online.

Comments may be submitted via email to flatheadplanrevision@fs.fed.us, via facsimile to (406) 758- 5379 or in writing to: Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Attn: Forest Plan Revision, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT., 59901 The Forest Service will carefully review the comments on the draft Forest Plan, Amendments and DEIS. There will also be an objection process for any unresolved concerns prior to the final decision.

For additional information, please contact Joe Krueger, Project Manager, at (406)-758-5243, or jkrueger@fs.fed.us.


Also read: Flathead National Forest releases draft Forest Plan environmental impact statement (Hungry Horse News)

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Jun 07 2016

Poll: Growing number of Montanans believe public lands help jobs

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

It seems an increasing number of folks in Montana favor public lands . . .

Montanans across the political spectrum think federal public lands benefit the state’s economy and quality of life, according to a new poll released by the University of Montana.

“We found that support for national parks and conservation is about as popular and bipartisan an issue as you can find these days,” UM geography professor Rick Graetz said Wednesday. “There’s agreement in the state, on all sectors of politics.”

The poll of 500 registered voters throughout Montana took place on May 7, 9 and 11 by wireless and landline telephone interviews. It used the bipartisan team of Republican pollster Lori Weigel and Democratic pollster Dave Metz, who have cooperated on numerous other opinion surveys in the Rocky Mountain West. The poll had a margin of error of 4.38 percent.

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Jun 07 2016

Montanore Mine’s new owner vows to continue development

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

Southern Cabinet Mountains, as seen from Swede Mountain, near Libby

The Montanore Mine near the Cabinet Mountains wilderness area has a new owner, but no change in plans to develop the mine . . .

The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based company that purchased its second major mine project in Northwest Montana within a year has vowed to continue exploration development of both the Rock Creek and Montanore mines.

Supporters of the proposed copper and silver mines say the development of either would be a boon to the struggling local economy, which has one of the highest jobless rates in the state. But environmental groups worry about the impacts the mines will have on the wilderness above, saying the projects could dewater mountain streams for centuries.

On May 24, Hecla Mining Company announced it was acquiring Spokane-based Mines Management, which has been trying to permit the Montanore Mine south of Libby for more than a decade. In the proposed deal, Mines Management shareholders will be paid in Hecla stock.

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May 30 2016

National Trails Day in the North Fork! – Sat., June 4

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

2016 National Trails Day Poster

2016 National Trails Day Poster

Read more on the North Fork Trails Association website. . .

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May 30 2016

Flathead Forest posts forest plan update

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Lake in Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest has completed the next step in the process of arriving at a fully lawsuit-ready revised forest plan. They’ve prepared the traditional four alternatives (three really, since one of them is “do nothing”) and posted them for public comment.

Polish your glasses and find a comfy chair. it runs some 2000 pages . . .

Setting the stage for more than 2,000 pages of scientific research, new guidelines and contentious proposals, the cover of the modified management plan for the Flathead National Forest cites a symbolic quote.

“Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”

Indeed, the well-known saying by Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, remains as relevant as the day it was written in 1905, and its merits are being put to the test as the agency unrolls the historic makeover of its sweeping management plan for the 2.4 million acre tract of federal land in Northwest Montana, where a rapidly growing population is placing increasing pressure on the wild interior.

After nearly three years of public meetings and analysis, the agency released the draft version of its revised forest plan on May 27, unveiling a proposed blueprint for everything within the Flathead National Forest, from recreational opportunities to designated wilderness, timber production, wildlife and habitat.

Read more . . .

Further reading:

Flathead Forest prepares for draft plan release (Missoulian)

Official forest plan website

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May 30 2016

2016 Bear Fair in Bigfork, June 4

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

2016 Bear Fair Poster

2016 Bear Fair Poster

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