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: 

Continue reading “Clearcuts, logging roads, grizzly bears and fake capitalism don’t mix”

Some more discussion of forest fires …

There was a discussion in the post below wherein Ms. Cynthia J. Laughery chimed in with the following comment regarding Climate Change and forest fires. She lives in Oregon.

You may be certifiable to anyone living in Oregon.
“Climate Change is absolutely based on nothing. I tell people all they have to do is stick their heads outside and look around and see that nothing is changing.” Seriously? I’m new here, but I’ve lived in southern Oregon in the forest for over thirty years and have seen the drought come up from California for the last ten years, with the trees now dying at an alarming rate….not from beetles or other critters/pathogens but from lack of deep water in the aquafers, rivers, lakes and streams due to NO RAINFALL OR SNOW PACK of significance. What was once a six foot deep snow winter is now a light snow twice in a three month season that may not stick at all, and if it does, stays overnight, then melts off. The 100 year old trees are shedding needles and branches all the way up.

If you are going to tell me there is no such thing as climate change and I’m frigging living in it, looking at it, and just spent TWO MONTHS in summer with doors and windows shut, three air purifiers going 24/7, what other lies would you care to spout before I remove myself from a subscription that begins with ‘the king has a new set of clothes’? Believe you or my own eyes? Do you write at the behest of a fossil fuel corporation of just own a hedge fund?You may be certifiable to anyone living in Oregon.
“Climate Change is absolutely based on nothing. I tell people all they have to do is stick their heads outside and look around and see that nothing is changing.” Seriously? I’m new here, but I’ve lived in southern Oregon in the forest for over thirty years and have seen the drought come up from California for the last ten years, with the trees now dying at an alarming rate….not from beetles or other critters/pathogens but from lack of deep water in the aquafers, rivers, lakes and streams due to NO RAINFALL OR SNOW PACK of significance. What was once a six foot deep snow winter is now a light snow twice in a three month season that may not stick at all, and if it does, stays overnight, then melts off.

The 100 year old trees are shedding needles and branches all the way up.
If you are going to tell me there is no such thing as climate change and I’m frigging living in it, looking at it, and just spent TWO MONTHS in summer with doors and windows shut, three air purifiers going 24/7, what other lies would you care to spout before I remove myself from a subscription that begins with ‘the king has a new set of clothes’? Believe you or my own eyes? Do you write at the behest of a fossil fuel corporation of just own a hedge fund?

Continue reading “Some more discussion of forest fires …”

Judge doesn’t buy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lies.

A federal district court judge recently ruled in favor of grizzly bears and bull trout in a lawsuit filed by grassroots environmental groups challenging the 2018 revised Flathead Forest Plan. The Flathead National Forest in Northwest Montana has a long history of giving priority to timber industry interests at the expense of wildlife, native fisheries, water quality and what’s left of the untrammeled mixed conifer forest landscape that surrounds Glacier National Park. What happens outside Park boundaries influences what happens inside the arbitrary boundary, and visa versa.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy cited Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ruling that the federal agencies were negligent in abandoning the prior Plan’s Amendment 19 road management protections (The forestwide Plan recovery standard for over 30 years) for grizzly bear and bull trout. Molloy said: “it’s like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Amendment 19’s road closure and removal requirements are credited with putting threatened grizzly bears on a path toward recovery.

Amendment 19’s requirement that culverts be removed from unnecessary, permanently-closed roads is credited with helping protect threatened bull trout from the sediment released by inevitable clogging and wash-outs where culverts intersect unused and abandoned logging roads.

Continue reading “Judge doesn’t buy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lies.”

“Managing” (killing) wolves and other life….

https://mtstandard.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-reality-of-new-fish-wildlife-and-parks-commission/article_61f68650-7114-5714-9da8-d2c2a7cd89d4.html

Montana has a new governor that likes to kill things, especially wolves. He’s determined to keep the public from participating in decisions that will greatly expand opportunities for trappers and hunters to kill wolves in Montana. Zoom meetings have replaced public meetings. It’s hard to talk to a real person in a government office these days. Remote is the way bureaucrats and managers like it. See no evil, hear no evil. I’m talking about their impression of the (evil) public, who have been replaced by “stakeholders.” Too bad, so sad.

What makes a cold-blooded killer? It is a mind disease that takes over one’s ability to reason before acting. No amount of psychology, philosophy, religion or will power seems to counteract the urge to kill once it’s overtaken the mind.

Wolves are not trapped and hunted for sustenance. There are obviously cultural and historical reasons one can cite for the collective insanity that drives hatred of wolves and other wild predators. This mind disease is overwhelmingly found in males. Wetiko. Little wetiko, big wetiko, it doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve introduced this subject before. https://wordpress.com/post/pieceofmindful.com/91762

Perhaps, there’s no finer example of this mass psychosis in action. All top elected officials in the Northern Rockies region — where wolves thrive — fear and hate wolves enough to kill as many as possible, as fast as possible. Of course, it’s not just wolves these executioners are targeting, it’s all life forms. We see that little red dot on our own chest from time to time. We are all targets of the “managers” (killers) charged with managing the universe in the glory of God, apparently. Their god, not mine.

MWA dumps Wilderness

Wilderness has its detractors and its defenders. Mark and I have both had, let’s call it disappointing, experienced with the Montana Wilderness Association. That’s all over now, water under the bridge. The Montana Wilderness Association do longer exists, it’s been renamed: “Wild Montana.” https://wildmontana.org/

It’s a relief in many ways to see this unveiling of the true nature of this NGO (non-governmental organization). Most of the founding members have passed on. The new membership and leadership is made of folks who cherish wilderness in a post-card kind of way; something resembling a still image on the side of a refrigerator. Concrete, static, “beautiful,” but loved for its groomed trails and conversational value at the wine and cheese gatherings in urban settings — part of an identity, but quite separate and apart from the domesticated, sophisticated, plastic-fantastic day-to-day lives of most “Wild Montana” subscribers.

Ironically, as MWA sheds its “wilderness skin,” Subaru is embracing its new, rugged, re-branded image. Meet the “Wilderness” in the comfort of a 2022 model all-wheel vehicle.

Montana Wild, like it’s former self ( MWA) is a wing of the Montana Democratic Party and a hiking club, nothing more. Even its commitment to hiking takes a backseat to trail commerce. There’s money to be made with all the new machines ripping up and down forest trails lately. Government subsidies are beginning to flood into the mechanized trail-use industry’s playground. Sorry hikers, it’s all about “new markets.”

Continue reading “MWA dumps Wilderness”

Another small piece of paradise won’t be destroyed today.

A little good news for trees and critters in the upper Priest River area in northern Idaho. After years of battling the U.S. Forest Service and it’s work games, a federal judge wasn’t fooled by the “happy talk” and sent the agency back to the drawing board. This by no means is the end of this battle, but it does demonstrate, I believe, that the simple strategy of endless pressure, endlessly applied can produce positive results, even in the face of overwhelming odds against winning. The misuse of the “categorical exclusion” to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) is one of the Forest Service’s favorite administrative maneuvers to further one of the primary neo-liberal economic principles: deregulation.

Always good to stay positive, even when the world seems like it’s crashing down upon us. This piece appeared first in CounterPunch, April 30, 2021. https://www.counterpunch.org/

APRIL 30, 2021

The Legal Showdown at Hanna Flats

BY MIKE GARRITYFacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Hanna Flats, Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Photo: Paul Sieracki.

The upper Priest River area in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest has the largest contiguous area of old-growth cedar, hemlock, and grand fir in the interior Western United States and the largest concentration of ancient cedar stands in northern Idaho.  Because of the bowl-shaped topography the high ridges on three sides capture cold air in the lower elevations and trap cool moist air in the summer.  The result is that the low-elevation winter snowpack is deeper and more persistent than elsewhere in northern Idaho and summertime conditions are relatively moist and cool compared to neighboring areas which makes the area less susceptible to wildfires.

Continue reading “Another small piece of paradise won’t be destroyed today.”

Notes from the field.

Gallatin Range South of Bozeman, Montana, USA

Yesterday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced our 23-million acre, 5-state ecosystem bill, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (S.1276) in the U.S. Senate (117th congress). First introduced in 1992 by Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D-PA), this legislation is the first of its kind to take a “beyond borders” (ecosystem) approach to public lands protection. Based on John and Frank Craighead’s work in Yellowstone National Park, primarily studying grizzly bears, we have tried to incorporate the most valuable fish and wildlife habitat in the “Wild Rockies bioregion” into legislative form to protect what’s left of “untrammeled nature” in the Lower 48.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/1276/cosponsors?s=2&r=1&overview=closed&searchResultViewType=expanded

Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ]*
04/21/2021
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]*04/21/2021
Sen. Durbin, Richard J. [D-IL]*04/21/2021
Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]*04/21/2021
Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH]*04/21/2021
Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA]*04/21/2021
Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH]*04/21/2021
Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA]*04/21/2021
Sen. Hirono, Mazie K. [D-HI]*04/21/2021

Of course, not a single senator from the West signed on. But then again, not a single southern senator signed onto the Civil Rights Act. The (abusive) powers that be control the bills that pass through congress, lubed with big bags of money delivered by K Street lobbyists, so we’re not expecting passage in this congress. But what is life without vision?

In another newsy item, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and friends just stopped a burning project close to the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Rarely will the Jackson Hole News cover our small victories, no matter how big the impact on the landscape. This burning would have scorched some 1 million acres of national forest land for no good reason, except to gain more agency budget — they’re funded by annual acres “treated” — and a bigger staff. https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/environmental/forest-wide-prescribed-burn-plan-called-off-west-of-tetons/article_9215e3a5-d0f6-5b8b-aab1-93df00c07f32.html

Enjoy these small miracles, they don’t come often enough.

Yellowstone threatened by massive USFS-USDA logging/burning project

Sediment from logging roads kills native trout.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article247929860.html

More push-back from grassroots groups is on the way against the government’s killing machine, as the government again finds itself in federal district court trying to explain its serial lawbreaking. This scorched earth program attacks the public forest just West of Yellowstone National Park’s western boundary.

“The project is in “the watershed for the world-famous Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, and will harm grizzly bears, and log much of the remaining old-growth forest left in the Targhee National Forest,” Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said in a statement. “And that’s why we are taking them to court to either comply with the law or drop the project.””

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and two other grassroots groups filed a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court bringing multiple claims that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws.

The project involves logging, prescribed burning and riparian (stream-side) dithering using bulldozers and other heavy equipment on about 66 square miles on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho. Get this! The govt. says its needed “to maintain wildlife biodiversity with prescribed burning and logging.”

Continue reading “Yellowstone threatened by massive USFS-USDA logging/burning project”

Forests are being looted as the empire collapses around us.

Harder and harder to find a “blank spot on the map.”

Not much ever changes here in Montana. A few more stores have the mask cops at the front door of local supermarkets and retailers turning away those “selfish” non-essential people trying to buy a loaf of bread or a little something to eat during the week ahead. Out in the rural parts the mining, logging, grazing and other nature-destroying extractive industries are having a field day. It’s like in the Amazon rainforest here, with huge (300-acres and larger) clearcuts and heavy machinery logging right down to the edge of tributary streams that feed the “Blue Ribbon” fishing haunts so popular with out-of state tourists and locals alike. We’re full on “banana republic” these days. There are a few who fight on trying to minimize the damage. Too many enemies of nature and way too few defenders of Creator’s many gifts. The worship of Mammon has swept into power big time. May it be a short-lived mania. Below is an account of our latest lawsuit against federal government agencies run amok.

Peace, brothers and sisters, and all forms of life on this tiny planet. Do not miss the solstice and Saturn-Jupiter conjunction sky watchers. Rare moment, with all its exceptionally deep, dark energy.

Deregulation of National Forests a Done Deal

Just another clearcut.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/11/18/forest-service-wilderness-trump/

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a bedrock procedural law signed by President Nixon, has just been gutted by the U.S. Forest Service-USDA. The logging industry, oil and gas industry and other industrial “rapers and scrapers” have successfully lobbied for one giant free-fire development zone on any and all of the 193 million acres of nation forest system land under federal agency management.

Continue reading “Deregulation of National Forests a Done Deal”