NEWS: MT Senator Announces Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

SAWS members:

Below are comments in response to a SAWS News item from Janine Stewart, our Montana SAWS Representative, regarding the July 17 announced bill titled ÔÇ£Forest Jobs and Recreation ActÔÇØ.

SAWS is strongly opposed to this bill!

A SAWS Alert will be forth coming to our members in the near future, but there is no need to wait for our alert before contacting the US Senator from your state and tell them you are ÔÇ£strongly opposedÔÇØ to MT US Senator Jon TesterÔÇÖs bill titled ÔÇ£Forest Jobs and Recreation ActÔÇØ. Look up your two US Senators at the following link:

Lookup your U.S. Senator

Not only does this bill contain 677,000 acres of new wilderness, but there are six so-called Recreation/Protection Areas. How is snowmobile use treated in these areas? No off trail riding in most of these areas, except for possibly in the ÔÇÿÔÇÿNW Peaks Snowmobile AreaÔÇÖÔÇÖ and the ÔÇÿÔÇÿMount Henry Snowmobile AreaÔÇÖÔÇÖ, both of which are contained within the ÔÇ£Three River Special Management AreaÔÇØ. Exact size and details of these two areas are unknown at this time. The language of this bill also states that snowmobile trail riding is allowed “only on those established trails and routes existing as of the date of enactment of this Act, on which motorized travel was permitted as of that date“.┬á This means the total acreage of the so-called ÔÇ£recreation areasÔÇØ┬ádesignated in this bill mean absolutely nothing,┬ásince you must remain on pre-established trails. No where in this bill did I see any claim as to how many miles of “established trails and routes” currently exist.

Dave Hurwitz
Chairman, Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Below are the comments from Janine.

There are a lot of different views regarding what MT US Senator Jon Tester released on July 17 in his new bill titled ÔÇ£Forest Jobs and Recreation ActÔÇØ.

Scrutinize the press releases; process the information; 84 pages of legislation and a map.

Much of┬áthe process┬áthat led up to the creation of this bill seems all to familiar with what happened in Washington State with the preliminary efforts on the “Wild Sky” wilderness bill; Gather minimal support by numerous interest groups, and then claim the bill has wide ranging support by all of these various interest groups. Once the momentum gets going with this approach, it is very hard to stop. These efforts must be opposed from the very beginning, and strongly opposed at that. As most of you know, the 106,000 acre Wild Sky Wilderness became law in May 2008 when President Bush put the final signature on the legislation.

This Montana wilderness bill is one of many recent wilderness bills taking the easier route of tackling the wilderness designation onslaught with state by state legislation, instead of going the route of a large multi-state bill such as the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). Montana gets this newly worded version of the various wilderness campaigns floating in Montana, to make it appear like multiple-use is at the base.┬áWe’ll see which state adjacent follows next with their version of a newly proposed wilderness bill.

Click on the following link for the Senators official news release (Note the 10 year wording):

Use the following link to find the 84 pages of the bill and map:

The following few links are to several recent articles on this bill:

Keep in mind – wilderness designation does not allow for future generations to “decide how to manage” the wilderness.┬áThere is no management of wilderness; it is just unmanaged forest land.┬áBut the bandwagon plays on ÔÇ£C’mon now what is wrong with 677,000 acres when you get to keep a few thousand acres for multiple use activitiesÔÇØ. Don’t forget that 50% of 50% of 50% and so on, which is currently left open for multiple-use in each new bill or forest management plan, will eventually equal close to zero.┬áUse caution when collaborating away future “acreage” for trail access.┬áIt takes┬áabout a ┬¢ mile of 16 foot wide road to even come close to the size of just one acre.

How many motorized groups do you see listed for the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest portion of the bill? NOT ONE! And this is the forest that will be affected by most of the new wilderness acreage. In fact there is considerable out of state influence at play with this segment of the bill.

I can’t help but wonder if┬áthe motorized groups in the Kootenai┬álisted as ÔÇ£helping to developÔǪÔÇØ this bill were aware┬áthey were going to become the motorized spokes groups for the entire wilderness plan.

From the article mentioned above which states:

The following groups helped develop each of the three components of the bill over several years of community meetings: 

┬áÔÇó On the Lolo National Forest, Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Project. Pyramid Mountain Lumber; Clearwater Resource Council; Montana Wilderness Association; The Wilderness Society; Montana Community Development Corp.

ÔÇó┬áOn the Beaverhead-National Forest, Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership: Sun Mountain Timber; R-Y Lumber; Smurfit-Stone Container; Pyramid Mountain Lumber; Roseburg Forest Products; Montana Wilderness Association; Montana Trout Unlimited; National Wildlife Federation.┬á

ÔÇó┬áOn the Kootenai National Forest, the Three Rivers District (Yaak). Linehan Outfitters;┬á Kurt Rayson, Rayson Logging; Lincoln County Snow Kats; Kootenai Ridge Riders ATV Club; Yaak Valley Forest Council, Troy Snowmobile Club.”

The article omits mentioning the numerous community meetings that opposed these so-called ÔÇ£partnershipÔÇØ campaigns.

Everyone will need time to check this proposed legislation out. Questions will need to be asked and hopefully truthful answers will be forthcoming. But the bottom line is that 677,000 acres of new wilderness is proposed with just this one bill. What else is in store for the remaining forests of Montana? Additional recommended wilderness or new access restrictions are coming to a forest near you. How will this affect the pending appeals process and travel plan activities for these very same forests? How does a bill like this affect the function of the USDA Forest Service with regard to land management practice?

Stay informed.  Ask questions.  Think for yourself.  Express your opinion as it is very important for the Senator to hear from you.

Janine Stewart
Montana SAWS representative






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