What follows is an action alert from Friends of the Wild Swan. Looks like this is just another proposal (in a long line of similar schemes) to have states and counties take over management of federal public lands, which belong equally to all Americans.
The Lake County Conservation District (LCCD) in Montana has been working on a novel approach to take over management of Flathead National Forest land in the Swan Valley. The Swan Resource Management Study vaguely outlines a plan to take control of 60,000 acres in the Swan Valley in Lake County which then would be managed by the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) for logging over the next 100 years.
The LCCD seems to believe that these federal lands represent a cash cow for the county to use for various unnamed projects even though most federal timber sales lose money and DNRC doesn’t have an adequate accounting system to track its costs to see whether they make money from timber sales.
There are obviously flaws with the whole premise of controlling just the timber output on federal lands but the LCCD has been moving along with this since 2014 and is soliciting public comments about whether to proceed with asking Congress to authorize the transfer of management. These are federal public lands and they belong to everyone in the U.S. not just Lake County or Montana residents.
The Swan Valley is rich in wildlife and biological diversity. These wild lands are critical habitat for lynx, bull trout, grizzly bears and other fish and wildlife. Allowing the County to have management jurisdiction for purely logging and its associated roads will adversely affect the habitat for many imperiled animals and fish as well as water quality.
According to their website “LCCD residents, especially those with property in the Swan Valley, will be asked their opinion. LCCD wants to know if there is adequate local community support to request Montana’s governor and legislature to begin working on State legislation that would support the establishment of the proposed Conservation Forest. Conversely, LCCD wants to know if the study should be suspended and the idea of a Conservation Forest tabled.”
In an undated letter on the website it says that environmental groups, Lake County residents, legislators and others have been notified of the public meeting on December 7th at the Swan Lake Clubhouse at6:30 pm. However, even though Friends of the Wild Swan attended the previous meeting in 2014 and submitted comments we have not been notified nor have Lake County residents.
Please attend this meeting if you are able or send a letter to the LCCD and Lake CountyCommissioners — tell them:
• This is a bad idea and no more taxpayer funds should be spent on it,
• These wild lands are too valuable for their clean water, fish and wildlife and must be maintained for those values,
• These are federal lands that belong to everyone in the United States, not just Lake County residents. Any activities on Forest Service land must be in compliance with federal laws like the Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
We need to let them know loud and clear that their proposal is not a viable option for our precious public lands.
For more information go to: www.swanforestinitiative.org
Send comments to the LCCD at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to 64352 US Hwy 93, Ronan, MT 59864 and to the Lake County Commissioners at email@example.com or by mail to CountyCourthouse, Room 211, 106 4th Ave E., Polson, MT. 59860