“ … Into the Desert, Seeking Rest But Finding None …”

This story is not the usual POM fare. Where it properly belongs I could not say. If it is not your cup of tea, skip it. I have never told this tale to anyone except my wife. Believe it or don’t, that’s up to you. But every detail is true, down to the last.

Especially the last …

The year was 1994 or 1995.  I cannot say which for sure; maybe 1996, even.  The salient point is that it occurred back in the day when airlines gave big price breaks if you stayed over a Saturday night, so that it was often cheaper to pay for an extra couple days’ worth of hotels and meals than to fly home on the Friday evening of a business trip.  And for that reason my normally stingy company gave me some leisure time on the West coast, such as I could never have swung on my own budget.

Continue reading ““ … Into the Desert, Seeking Rest But Finding None …””

Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild

It was another long summer of smoke-filled eyes in the West. An early snow storm in the Northern Rockies ushers in a season of peace and solitude. Wildfires frighten tourists, excite the media and reacquaint homeowners who built in the forest to Mother Nature’s laws.  Hey, I get it, fires are deadly and sexy – good ratings. But after decades of kicking the environmental can down the road, at the first sign of smoke most politicians want someone else to blame for their pathetic past performances.

Three of the last four summers (2015, 2017, 2018), Glacier National Park erupted in a fury of smoke and flames. Tourists scampered away to Yellowstone, “inholder” homes were evacuated, some incinerated. But that’s not why I picked up the pen today. Let’s talk about quiet, yes quiet.  Where has our quiet gone? Continue reading “Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild”

YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLIES RETURNED TO ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST 

MISSOULA, Mont. – A federal judge today restored Endangered Species Act protections to grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem after they were prematurely and illegally delisted last year. This victory means that the grizzlies will remain protected as a threatened species pending additional scientific analysis and a more comprehensive plan for their recovery.

“The Trump administration wants to see Yellowstone’s grizzlies taken off the Endangered Species list so they can be hunted, killed, and mounted on the walls of wealthy trophy hunters like Trump’s sons” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “But grizzly bears remain a tiny fraction of their former population and are living in an even tinier fraction of their former range.  Due to increased development and lack of connected habitat, it’s safe to say the grizzly bear isn’t really recovered yet.  These incredible animals deserve better from humans than a rush to the taxidermist.”

Continue reading “YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLIES RETURNED TO ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST “

Campaign of Illusions: Where the Zero Cut Movement to Save the National Forests Went Wrong

Zero-Cut No Commercial Logging again? A quarter century after it became the banner and guiding star for much of the grassroots forest movement, and then over a decade of semi-retirement, the campaign for this legislation is trying to mount a national revival. My question is simple: Is it the best strategy for a collapsed forest movement, daily confronting the debacle of rapidly increasing logging and roadbuilding in the national forests?

The combination of President Trump and an overtly hostile Republican-controlled Congress has shocked the grassroots, non-collaboration forest movement. Awakening from over a decade of a sort of slumber, these forest defense activists are daily burning up internet chat rooms with news chronicling cascading losses in Agriculture and Interior Department rules, regulations, administrative edicts, and newly-passed laws and congressional riders that roll back decades of environmental laws and court victories.

They are stunned to see the reality that their strategy of timber sales appeals and lawsuits are no longer holding back the bulldozers and chain saws of the timber industry and its U.S. Forest Service puppet. As they ponder these mounting losses, they watch their local forests logged with increasing ferocity, a comprehensive assault on public lands with transgressions that few imagined they would live to see. Continue reading “Campaign of Illusions: Where the Zero Cut Movement to Save the National Forests Went Wrong”

Trial by Fire

Last evening I participated as one of five presenters in a live-audience,  multi-media discussion/presentation with a group of foresters, a smoke jumper and State of Montana’s tourism specialist in the Dept. of Commerce.  The topic was “Can we manage wildfire; Should we manage wildfire.”  As the lone “tree-hugger” on the stage, I tried to probe other panel members for the reasons for their beliefs – most believed in management as a “solution” to our wildfire “problem.”  Needless to say, the anthropocentric viewpoint predominated.

Soldiering on, I tried very hard to interject a few self-evident truths about nature and fire’s natural role in the continuous mystery of life in its many forms.  When cornered with truth, however, the other participants simply lied to escape reality.  I’m sure they believed their lies, but even to the live audience lying seemed obvious, but generally an acceptable answer to a confrontation with an inescapable truth.  Continue reading “Trial by Fire”

21st Century Rape Culture

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

Is there an environmental “rape culture” in the United States? Yes, of course, there is. Most contemporary ecological problems, or “rape the land” mentality, is deeply rooted in Western patriarchal culture.

Rape (transitive verb) definition for this piece: 1a: (archaic) to seize and take away by force b:despoil 2: to commit rape on Continue reading “21st Century Rape Culture”

“Saving” Watersheds and Urbanites

The Prussian “Iron Chancellor” Otto Von Bismarck is often credited with the saying: “To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) recently introduced legislation to speed forest clearcutting and thinning projects in the Forest Service’s Northern Region.

The “Protect Collaboration for Healthier Forests Act” would adopt a regional approach to disputes over forest management projects that Daines has sought to implement nationally. According to Sen. Daines, “fringe litigators — radical environmental extremists — sue to stop commonsense collaborative forest management projects that would reduce the risk of wildfire.” Continue reading ““Saving” Watersheds and Urbanites”