Dirt First!

It’s tree-planting season.  My annual order of 24 native seedlings arrived today via Fed Ex from the State nursery in Missoula, Montana. Minimum order is 24 “plugs” or bareroot stock, grown for “conservation” purposes and sold throughout the state.  This year, I selected P-pine (Ponderosa).  Last year it was juniper, and western larch the year before.  I treat this as a ritual of Spring, that for me goes way back to the mid-1980s.  The serious woman at the nursery – maybe a tree scientist —  I ordered from this year wasn’t thrilled about my selection because the seeds were gathered at a much lower elevation, and from a site West of the Continental Divide, somewhere in the Blackfoot River watershed.  I’m planting East of the divide in much poorer dirt, in a more hostile setting with less annual precipitation (drought prone) and generally lower humidity.  After a robust discussion she agreed to send my 24 Ponderosa pine. 

Ponderosa pine seedling (“plug”)

These little beauties are now in 1-gallon pots.  It didn’t take long at all.

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Endless pressure, endlessly applied.

Backyard, Bozeman, Montana. Dreaming of summer.

Wildness, wilderness and roadless areas are all words that we use to describe lands that remain as nature intended, untrammeled by man’s unquenchable thirst for comfort, convenience and attachment to shiny objects. Fragments of Montana, Idaho, Alaska and smaller parcels scattered about the Lower 48 are all that remain of the once vast wild landscape that existed before Europeans occupied (colonized) and exploited anything and everything that could be converted into gold, silver of fiat money. It was all wilderness once. Lately I’ve been reflecting on experiences and events that have influenced my life in the Northern Rockies. Yes, I’m a transplant, originally from “The East.” College in Denver, and then migrating to Missoula, Montana in the winter of 1974-75. I wrote the following piece for a group I helped to found in 1987 in Swan Lake, Montana, The Friends of the Wild Swan. wildswan.org

After 35 years of grassroots wilderness and forest-ecosystem activism, it’s worth reflecting on one of Friends of the Wild Swan’s most important accomplishments:  wildlands protection.  In 1987, the social, cultural and political climate surrounding the wilderness/roadless-areas debate was highly contentious, to put it mildly.  All across western Montana, and in the Swan Valley in particular, public outrage and resentment was growing rapidly against the rapid expansion of clearcut logging on Plum Creek’s (“checkerboard”) corporate holdings, and indiscriminate clearcutting on publicly-owned forest land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

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Privatization: Turning The Commons Into Gold

Introduction

Thanks, Alison and Stephers, for the inspiration and love of life struggling to survive. And love the paradox.

This piece was something I wrote in 2005. A lot has changed, but the general process and trend has not. Today’s enclosure laws and regulations give to oligarchs and take from commoners. The mode of production is today, as it has ever been: colonialism.

Plight of the Commons

“By the law of nature these things are common to all mankind, the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea,” proclaimed the Roman Emperor Justinian.  Justinian’s code, the original protection of the public trust, or commons, become the law of the land in 528 A.D.  Over the centuries that have followed this precept has become widely known as the Public Trust Doctrine. 

Today, the commons face unprecedented new threats from an American 21st Century Emperor and the expansion of so-called neo-conservatism, or privatization.  From a neo-conservative perspective, laissez-faire individualism and free-market (corporate) economics, the conceptual building blocks of a bold return to medieval feudalism, offer efficiency, smaller-sized government, and greater individual choice.  Public tradeoffs or costs (public losses) are seldom discussed. 

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Crazy court ruling threatens all public lands

[East side, Crazy Mountains of Montana]

Change is coming to what I think is Montana’s most alluring “island” mountain range, the Crazy Mountains.  It’s about to become the latest in a long, tortured history of celebrity destinations dotting the American West.  As the success of Big Sky ski resort, the Yellowstone Club, and Moonlight Basin (northwest of Yellowstone National Park) have demonstrated, there is plenty more opportunity here in Southwest Montana if you’ve got deep pockets and high-level political connections in Washington, D.C.

Hikers and hunters have been battling the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to maintain access to public lands for decades.  Local ranchers have been illegally posting “no trespassing” signs to keep hunters and hikers out of their backyard, and off their private land.  But the ownership pattern is complicated in a “checkerboard” of private and public sections (640 acres, or 1 square mile, per section) that originated when the railroad was given title to every other section.  Under the Union Pacific Act of 1862, Congress granted every other section along the railroad – in one square mile blocks — to Union Pacific and retained the alternate sections as federal government lands.

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Green Party deja vu?

The fight to have a political presence in the two-party “duopoly” continues. What democracy, right?

I may have said I was no longer involved in electoral politics.  I changed my mind last week after talking to Richard Winger over at Ballot Access News out of San Francisco.  https://ballot-access.org/  The battle over ballot access for “3rd Parties” is not over yet, and the filing deadline was Monday, March 13.  Nobody else seemed to be interested, so what else could I do?  I really do want to see this battle to final resolution, win, lose or draw. 

I filed online, paid my $15 fee with a credit card, with the Montana Secretary of State to be a Green Party candidate in State House District 61 in Bozeman, my home district.  It was a last-minute decision with purpose relating to an ongoing lawsuit against the Montana SOS challenging the signature requirement for acquiring ‘new party’ status in the 2016 election.  I’ve written about it before.  https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/08/montana-ballot-access-decision-suppresses-green-party-voters/ …and here:  https://pieceofmindful.com/2021/11/10/green-party-prevails-at-9th-circuit-court/

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“More Wilderness” is a big lie.

A little news and opinion from the wilderness fragments still found here in the Wild (northern) Rockies. CounterPunch graciously ran the following piece about a fake “Wilderness Bill” introduced in the U.S. Senate by Montana Senator Jon Tester (D).

NOVEMBER 29, 2021

Sen. Tester’s Wilderness Act Doesn’t Go Far Enough

BY STEVE KELLYFacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Blackfoot River. Photo: George Wuerthner.

There appears to be strong business support for Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA).  What stewardship? Imagine Tester as the head servant of business, the steward who collects rents and dispenses government (subsidies) provisions.

Paid pollsters with their surveys tell us it is a good thing. Businessmen looking for government handouts tell us the same fairy tale.  Yard signs in the well-healed, “smart” parts of university towns – “donor-class” neighborhoods — reinforce this narrow-minded, virtue-signaling, herd mentality. Tester’s collaborators pontificate, regurgitate.  It must be so. But is it so?

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Global Banker Alliance Unveils “Green” Plan to Transform and Weaponize Global Finance

Meeting in the shadows of the COP26 gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, the captains of private finance laid out their plans to restructure the global financial system.  For months, I’ve been waiting for the banks and financial institutions to make their move.  The plan is to reconfigure the role and scope of global and regional financial institutions, including the World Bank and IMF.

 The officially cover story presents this massive transformation as a unified transition to a global (carbon) “net zero” economy. This new arrangement will totally change “global financial governance.” By further weakening national sovereignty by forcing nation states to follow new rules that favor wealthy of alliance members for their benefit under the guise of promoting fake United Nations “sustainability goals.”  We have already seen this power-grab progression expressed in the global lockdowns, surveillance systems development via the 5G/6G rollout in “Smart Cities” around the world.  That was the appetizer.  This is the entrée. 

Whitney Webb has written a very comprehensive analysis of the meeting, the plan, and its implications for all living things on this little planet of ours. 

“This alliance, called the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), was launched in April by John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change; Janet Yellen, US Secretary of the Treasury and former chair of the Federal Reserve; and Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and former chair of the Bank of England and Bank of Canada. Carney, who is also the UK prime minister’s Finance Advisor for the COP26 conference, currently cochairs the alliance with US billionaire and former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. 

“Though GFANZ has cloaked itself in lofty rhetoric of “saving the planet,” its plans ultimately amount to a corporate-led coup that will make the global financial system even more corrupt and predatory and further reduce the sovereignty of national governments in the developing world.”  Id.

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Green Party Prevails at 9th Circuit Court

It’s been a long wait.  I was a plaintiff in this lawsuit to strike down Montana’s unconstitutional election laws. 

On November 8, the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an Opinion in Montana Green Party v Jacobsen, 20-35340. It struck down the unequal signature distribution requirement that has existed for Montana petitions for new party recognition ever since 1981.  The unequal distribution requirement was responsible for the Green Party’s petition failure in both 2018 and 2020.  The three Judge panel rendered an opinion written by Judge Fletcher, which held that the case was not moot because of the change in the law, found that the District Court was correct on the First Amendment claim, but reversed the District Court as to the 14th Amendment claim as to the Equal Protection violation in regard to the discriminatory signature requirements in the State House districts.  https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2021/11/08/20-35340.pdf

The original dispute was a result of the removal of all the Montana Green Party’s candidates from the general election ballot in 2018 by the Montana Supreme Court. The Supremes upheld the District Court’s Opinion, which removed Greens from the 2018 ballot over a small number of “irregular” signatures in several voting districts.  The Democratic Party filed suit to protect Senator Tester from my U.S. Senate campaign as a Green Party candidate.  After signatures had all been “certified,” and I had won the Primary election to become the Green Party’s nominee, Democrats filed a lawsuit to eliminate any competition from a “real left” challenge.  Way back in January, 2019 I wrote a piece right here at POM on the lawsuit, and its possible implications.  I was wrong about 2020.  The Green Party and its candidates were again removed from the competition.  Democrats scream bloody murder about “voter suppression” against ethnic minorities but are never tagged with voter suppression when it comes to Green Party candidates and ballot access manipulation to protect its left flank, which is usually exposed for all to see.  https://pieceofmindful.com/2019/01/09/montana-green-party-clears-another-ballot-access-barrier/#more-82011 

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The Largest Land Grab in History

The strategies and tactics directing human health systems and forest health management exhibit striking similarities. 

Religious believers in the “active forest management” cult have declared that we need more vegetation manipulation — prescribed burning, logging, and thinning — to control large blazes.  Cultist ignore the numerous examples around the American West where burning/thinning/logging did nothing to halt fire ignition and spread.  

These proposals are based on the idea that due to fire suppression a build-up of fuels is the problem, and hence a reduction in fuels will solve the issue. There are reasons to believe fuel build-up due to fire suppression is greatly exaggerated.  Most of the West’s vegetative communities including higher elevation pines like west-side Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, aspen, most fir and spruce species, sagebrush, juniper, and chaparral to name a few plant types that naturally have long fire rotations of decades to hundreds of years. Fire suppression has not influenced these communities with long fire rotations.  There are no forest problems to “fix.”   “Fuel reduction” will fail to fix the drivers of large blazes: extreme drought, low humidity, high temperatures, and wind. 

How on earth have our forested lands survived before there were humans to come to the rescue and save them from wildfire, bark beetles, root rot, and a dozen other (real or imagined) ailments.

Everything is being gobbled up by what Stephers described in her latest (Halloween) entry as “a rapidly expanding digital panopticon.”   

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Clearcuts, logging roads, grizzly bears and fake capitalism don’t mix

In early August, I drove from Bozeman to Missoula, Montana to attend a federal court hearing before Magistrate DeSoto. I’ve been at many hearings over the almost four decades of fighting to protect native fish and wildlife habitat on public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service-USDA. As so often is the case, our (plaintiffs) argument centered around the ill effects of roads and clear-cut logging on elk and grizzly bear populations. Because there are no laws to protect most animal species that live in national forests, the elk and bears serve as proxies in many of these court battles.  Our dependence on machines and capitalism are the primary underlying obstacles preventing proper consideration for all lifeforms when forest management decisions are made.  This is my opinion. I am not a scientist, journalist or lawyer.

There aren’t many journalists that cover these hearings, so I’ll simply suggest reading Laura Lunquist’s excellent article explaining the details of the case.   https://missoulacurrent.com/outdoors/2021/10/judges-ninemile-lolo/

My friend and colleague, Mike Garrity is quoted in the article expressing our frustration at the serial lawbreaking: 

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