Link to entire article here.
For those of you who haven’t been following this, it turns out that papers appreciate it when blogs link to their articles and quote snippets rather than the whole thing. So given that press releases don’t have those restrictions (and the USG doesn’t have press releases giving their side of the story). I will focus on snippets that show viewpoints not aligned with the plaintiffs’ point of view. Matthew posted that press release here.
Nice reporting IMHO, you can see the discussion we have on this blog take place.
Officials have said that a severe wildfire could put so much sediment and ash in the creeks that intakes for the water utility could clog, and the city could be cut off from its water.
Garrity said he believes the odds of a major fire striking those particular drainages are very low and that even then, a major fire would have to be followed by heavy rains.
If new roads are built, however, he said there’s a 100 percent chance that sediment will end up in creeks, hurting trout habitat and polluting drinking water.
Gallatin National Forest spokeswoman Marna Daley said historical fire records show that there have been a number of lightning-caused fires in those drainages. The use of the drainages, particularly Hyalite, also creates the potential for human-caused fires, she said.
Garrity said there’s “no science that proves that thinning the watershed will fireproof it.”
Daley said the purpose of the watershed plan is not to fireproof the drainages, but to reduce the intensity and severity of a wildfire.
“We’re recognizing that a fire will happen in those drainages,” Daley said. “It is inevitable that it will happen… We just want it to be more controllable and less extensive and severe.”
The East Boulder project would be located outside Big Timber, Daley said, and is intended to increase safety for firefighters and the public, as the drainage has only one way in and out.
She said the Forest Service feels both projects were fully analyzed and concerns were addressed.
“The Forest Service worked very hard to listen to their concerns during all the public input, not just during the appeal and litigation,” Daley said. “We’ve invested a substantial amount of time and energy to be responsive to their concerns.”
She noted that the Bozeman watershed plan was seven years in the making, and three years were spent planning the East Boulder project.
“We believe these are very important projects with great benefits to the public,” Daley said. “We’ve worked hard to address individuals’ and organizations’ complaints and concerns. It is a bit disappointing that we’re to the place where it appears the only resolution we can find with these groups is in the courtroom.”
With regard to Garrity’s 100 percent chance sediment will end up in the water, here is where I posted the section of the ROD on sedimentation.
Here are a couple of other posts related to this project.