Tag Archives: logging

Montana signs forest management deal with feds

Montana and the federal government signed the paperwork to establish a formal federal-state logging and restoration partnership . . .

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service on Monday for the state to play a bigger role in forest management on federal lands, which officials say will speed up backlogged logging projects.

Forest management and the declining timber industry have emerged as major issues in this year’s governor’s race, with Weyerhaeuser announcing last month that it would close a Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mill. The closure will put about 100 people out of work in addition to 100 administrative jobs that are being eliminated or moved with Weyerhaeuser’s purchase of Plum Creek Timber.

With the Chessman Reservoir as a backdrop, Bullock, Forest Service Regional Forester Leanne Marten and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs signed the Good Neighbor Authority agreement, which was authorized under the 2014 federal Farm Bill.

Read more . . .

Debo Powers: Is Canadian logging a threat to pristine drainage?

Debo Powers, president of the North Fork Preservation Association, had an excellent op-ed on the Daily Inter Lake yesterday talking about heavy logging in the Canadian Flathead drainage . . .

The North Fork of the Flathead River has long been recognized as an internationally special stream, both in Canada and the United States. As such, the drainage has been managed with unusual care and attention on both sides of the international line.

But recent activity on the British Columbia side of the North Fork Valley should have all of us on alert. Especially those of us who care deeply about clean water, native trout, Glacier Park and Flathead Lake.

Over the past decades, much of the concern over the North Fork of the Flathead has focused on energy and coal development. And rightly so. Mountain-removal coal mining would have had devastating effects on the clean water that pours out of Canada, into Northwest Montana.

Thankfully, we’ve put that concern behind us via international agreements. But now we need similar, international agreements on how the North Fork of the Flathead Valley is going to be logged, particularly north of the border.

Obviously, logging does not have nearly the impact of coal mining. Trees grow back. Timber harvest can be compatible with keeping the North Fork healthy. But it’s compatible only if done correctly, up to modern scientific standards and with full transparency.

Two companies, Canfor and Jemi Fibre, are cutting or plan to cut large swaths of forest in the British Columbia Flathead. It’s worth noting that clearcut logging of such massive scale would simply not be allowed in the United States. In addition, the United States would have much stricter guidelines — such as how heavy equipment is used and requiring buffer zones around streams.

These are not just any streams. The logging is proposed around Foisey and McClatchie Creeks. These are major tributaries of the North Fork. Not only are they the source of clean water that eventually flows into Flathead Lake, they are major spawning tributaries for bull trout migrating out of Flathead Lake.

In particular, Jemi Fibre’s plans to log “Sportsman’s Ridge” are of particular concern. This area produces 30-40 percent of the bull trout in the North Fork. As the name implies, it is rich with wildlife.

On July 17, Sen. Jon Tester wrote Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to broach the subject of watershed management in the North Fork with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sen. Tester wrote, “…proposed logging in the Canadian Flathead near McLatchie and Foisey Creeks [major tributaries to the North Fork] have Montanans and federal agencies very concerned about adverse downstream impacts on water quality and wildlife… Sedimentation from large-scale timber harvest has great potential to negatively affect” the North Fork.

Flathead Trout Unlimited raised the alarm on Canadian logging in the watershed. I am grateful for their vigilance.

Please note that no one is saying the North Fork should be entirely off-limits to logging. There is room for sustainable timber harvest here, and we know logging can be light on the land and even beneficial for some wildlife species. We are simply saying that Canada and Montana should be good neighbors when planning this logging.

Experts from both countries should carefully think out logging plans. Those plans should employ the latest science and the best management practices to protect the wildlife, fish and water we share. After all, those resources move freely over the international border.

The North Fork of the Flathead Valley is a truly special place. Generations of Montanans and Canadians have worked together to keep it that way. Ultimately, the citizens of each nation have the final responsibility to be good stewards, and good neighbors.

I encourage Montana’s entire congressional delegation and Gov. Steve Bullock to speak clearly and respectfully to their Canadian counterparts: Let’s work together to keep the North Fork special, before it’s too late.

Trout Unlimited concerned about logging in the Canadian Flathead

Trout Unlimited, among other conservation organizations, is keeping a wary eye on logging operations in the Canadian Flathead . . .

Members of Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited are worried about potential timber harvest in the headwaters of the Canadian Flathead.

Two companies, Jemi Fibre and Canfor, hold privately owned forestland or lease government “crown” land within the watershed. Jemi recently purchased 130,000 acres in the Flathead and Kootenai watersheds. Canfor holds the area’s provincial crown timberland under a license “tenure” agreement.

Jemi’s holdings include approximately 10,000 acres of Sportsmans Ridge, encompassing Foisey and McLatchie creeks, both major tributaries of the North Fork Flathead headwaters. According to U.S. Geological Survey fisheries biologists, 30-40 percent of all bull trout spawning occurs just downstream of these tributaries. The Canadian Flathead becomes the North Fork of the Flathead in the U.S. and is the western boundary of Glacier National Park. For decades, the U.S. and Canada sparred over coal and gold mines in the Canadian Flathead. After decades of negotiation, the province and the U.S. agreed not to mine the drainage.

Now the dispute is turning toward logging…

Read more . . .

Logging in Canadian Flathead draws concern

The Hungry Horse News has an interesting article on logging activity north of the border in the headwaters of the North Fork . . .

A large timber harvest in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River has raised concerns with biologists in Montana.

University of Montana researcher Ric Hauer said thousands of acres of forest land have been logged by Tembec in McEvoy Creek in the Canadian Flathead. The area was previously unroaded, and McEvoy Creek is the “premier spawning stream in the entire Flathead,” he said.

Tembec gave him a tour of their operation as they logged and followed best management practices, he said, but he openly questioned whether that would sufficiently protect the area, based on the size and scale of the logging. He said the logging started in 2010 and is now completed.

Read more . . .

Tester gets ‘four Pinocchios’ for statements on logging litigation

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?

Read more . . .

Pro-logging bill would ramp up timber sales

Here’s more information on U.S. Representative Steve Daines’ pro-logging bill . . .

A pro-logging bill making its way through Congress would dramatically revise forest management throughout the country, ramping up timber production four-fold on the Flathead National Forest, while dramatically increasing harvests on all of the state’s national forests and restricting litigation designed to halt those projects for environmental scrutiny.

The “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act,” or H.R. 1526, was co-authored by U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and passed the House of Representatives Sept. 20 on a 244-173 vote.

The bill mandates annual harvests of one-half the U.S. Forest Service’s long-term sustainable yield for each national forest, matching the statewide harvest rates that were commonplace two decades ago.

Read more . . .

Playing catch-up: Spring brings a crop of lawsuits

Your friendly web-slinger was away on an extended road trip, so we’re playing catch-up. Here’s a spring crop of environmental lawsuits, all filed within days of each other. . .

Environmentalists file federal suit over logging on Montana state forests – A 50-year permit for logging and development on Montana state forests faces a federal lawsuit from environmentalists who say the state won’t do enough to protect threatened grizzly bears or bull trout. The Friends of the Wild Swan, Montana Environmental Information Center and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula’s U.S. District Court on Monday. Continue reading . . .

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks sued over trapping in lynx habitat – Three conservation groups filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners and Director Jeff Hagener for allowing trapping and snaring in Canada lynx habitat. The Friends of the Wild Swan, the WildEarth Guardians and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies say FWP reported at least nine incidents since 2000 of lynx being caught in traps set for other species; and say four of those animals died. They alleged that this violates the federal Endangered Species Act, which lists lynx as a threatened species and warranted for protection, and want the trapping prohibited in lynx habitat. Continue reading . . .

Group keeps up challenge to logging roads – A conservation group said Wednesday it will keep pushing federal authorities to more closely regulate muddy logging roads, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that sided with the timber industry on the issue. Continue reading . . .

Larger, hotter wildfires the new normal

Expect more big wildfires for a while . . .

The trend toward larger, hotter wildfires in this part of the country is rapidly becoming the new normal.

In the four decades between 1960 and 1999, wildfires in the United States scorched more than 7 million acres in a single year just once. Since 2000? Eight times, with 2012 at 8.8 million acres and still climbing. The annual number of wildfires exceeding 25,000 acres in 11 Western states has quintupled since the 1970s, according to a Climate Central report released last month.

The causes, fire ecologists say, are simple enough. A century of fire suppression and traditional “pick-and-pluck” logging practices that removed the largest, most fire-resistant trees have transformed open stands of ponderosa pine into multi-tiered, lower-crowned forests of thinner-barked trees more susceptible to spruce budworm and bark beetle — and catastrophic wildfire.

Continue reading . . .