The Missoulian’s Rob Chaney posted a good overview of the issues and debates surrounding Senator Jon Tester’s new wilderness bill, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The article includes links to supporting documents . . .
A week after Sen. Jon Tester released his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, some wilderness advocates question what it might really do.
Now designated as S. 507, the bill resurrects a portion of Tester’s 8-year-old Forest Jobs and Recreation Act affecting the southwest corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. That bill ran into opposition from some environmentalists and U.S. Forest Service officials who objected to the way it mandated commercial work in the forests.
The new bill has raised eyebrows for the compromises it’s made with mountain biking groups.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was at Hauser Lake near Helena last Tuesday, talking about public lands and funding. Kudos to Debo Powers for spotting this one . . .
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke to a crowd of public land employees and conservationists at Hauser Lake northeast of here Tuesday to promote public land and full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, raise awareness about the outdoors economy and unveil new funding for youth in conservation.
Speaking to the media afterward, she commented on the recent takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, the cancellation of an oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area earlier this year and her decision not to visit coal-dependent communities in southeastern Montana.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who traveled with Jewell, said Devil’s Elbow at Hauser Lake, a Bureau of Land Management campground, was a befitting place for the discussion because it has benefited from LWCF money in the past.
In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .
The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.
U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.
The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.
Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are not happy about the state of Forest Service funding for fighting wildfires and maintaining trails . . .
As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the looming wildfire season, Montana’s senators are calling for reforms to the agency’s forest and trail management.
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on the agency’s $4.8 billion budget request for the next fiscal year.
Tester and Daines criticized Tidwell for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency has revised its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, which encompasses all of Montana and has 28,000 miles of federally managed trails, the agency plans to reduce appropriations by 30 percent over the next three years. There is an estimated $25 million in deferred trail maintenance in Region One, according to a Forest Service report.
Tristan Scott over at the Flathead Beacon has a long, very interesting article discussing the conservation movement on the right side of the political spectrum. . .
It’s late August in Montana and the North Fork of the Flathead River is running low and slow, snaking through a chalky corridor of wildfire smoke, its steep banks inscribed with the tracks of deer and grizzly bears, wallpapered with a mix of blackened snags and young lodgepole pine, and scored with clusters of radiant fireweed.
The smoke blotting the sky overhead hangs in contrast against the transparency of the water below, magnifying the burnished bottom-stones and the shimmering flashes of bull trout, rainbows and cutties.
Somewhere downstream from the Glacier Rim river access, about 10 miles north of Columbia Falls, a ClackaCraft drift boat cuts through the glassy surface, which longtime fly-fishing guide and oarsman Irv Heitz navigates from his perch in the middle of the boat, rowing and setting his clients up on fish. At the bow, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, dressed in zip-off Columbia cargo pants and a T-shirt, leans against the boat’s leg bracket, casting a dry fly at the tail of a riffle that’s usually filthy with trout.
From our friends at the National Parks Conservation Association . . .
We’re planning a summer celebration of Glacier National Park’s North Fork, right on the riverbank the morning of Aug. 24.
Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines together will welcome Canada’s Consulate General Marcy Grossman to commemorate a truly historic transboundary and bipartisan alliance, forever protecting the communities and culture of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Places such as Waterton-Glacier and the North Fork Flathead River Valley do not happen by accident. They are choices that we make together – choices such as the recent Canadian and US legislation that protects our North Fork heritage. Please join us to celebrate the priceless gift of many more summers on the river! We’ll bring the coffee.
Details and directions below…
Directions to Blankenship Bridge (for non-North Forkers):
Enter Columbia Falls on US Hwy 2
Turn north on Nucleus Avenue
Turn Right at the “T” intersection, onto Railroad Street
Sen. Jon Tester is joining the chorus asking for cancellation of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has joined Blackfeet tribal leaders in their efforts to have all federal oil and gas exploration leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area next to their reservation canceled.
In a letter Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Montana Democrat said he agreed with the Blackfeet Tribe that Jewell and Vilsack’s departments “clearly have not just the moral obligation but also the legal authority to cancel all existing leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.”
Tester visited the Blackfeet Reservation earlier this month and discussed the issue with tribal leaders. They maintain that 47 leases in the 165,000-acre area were illegally granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in 1982.
Senator Jon Tester seriously misstated the effect of lawsuits on logging projects in Montana, causing a minor public furor and earning him “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post . . .
Our inbox started flowing with e-mails from outraged residents of Montana shortly after Montana Public Radio ran an interview in which Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) asserted that “every logging sale” in the state was “under litigation.” The complaints also reached the radio station, as within a day, Tester’s staff offered a revised statement that focused on “volume” rather than sales. Marnee Banks, his spokeswoman, apologized for the original statement, but Tester himself made no comment.
But when we asked Tester’s staff for evidence to back up the revised statement, they simply directed us to the U.S. Forest Service, rather than explain the data themselves. It’s taken a few days to unravel the numbers, but this is a case of apples and oranges, with a few limes thrown in.
What’s the actual effect of litigation on logging in Montana?
Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News did a nice write-up on last Friday’s meeting with Senators Tester and Walsh . . .
A lot has changed since 2006, when Glacier National Park superintendent Mick Holm traveled north to Canada to meet with British Petroleum officials who were considering coal bed methane gas development in the Flathead River drainage.
“They tried to convince us they were a green company,” Holm recalled last week. “We tried to convince them the right thing to do was to not do anything.”
That was one of many battles over the future of the North Fork of the Flathead over the past 40 years. The struggle finally came to an end on Dec. 18 as President Obama signed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
Last Friday, December 19, a group of folks met with Senators Tester and Walsh at the Belton Inn in West Glacier to celebrate the passage of a number of Montana lands bills, including the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. Yours truly was there, along with a fair number of other North Forkers, conservationists, business people, community leaders and federal officials. The media was out in force. I knew perhaps a third of the folks in the room.
The meeting was informal, with both politicos in blue jeans and very accessible. They even showed up ahead of time to have more time to chat with the attendees. Everyone made a point, before and after the speechifying, of thanking the senators for getting legislation through the system that was developed collaboratively here in Montana. It was all very adult and non-political. Refreshing.
There’s been a ton of attention from both the press and from a number of conservation outfits. Rather than generate a bunch of individual posts, I’m going to do a roll-up here, with links to a representative sample of the online coverage . . .