Swan Forest Initiative: State Would Manage Federal Land

Letter in the Flathead Beacon supporting the Swan Forest Initiative, summarized on the project’s web page:

The approximately 60,000 acre forest would be established on the Flathead National Forest. All lands are within the LCCD boundaries and Lake County.

The Conservation Forest will be managed in trust by Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). The beneficiary of the trust is the LCCD.

The laws, rules and regulations governing the management of Montana’s State forest will be used by DNRC to manage the Conservation Forest.

All lands included in the Conservation Forest will continue to be owned by the United States Government. The people of the United States will continue to have the right to all lawful uses of these forest lands.
The Conservation Forest will revert to United States management 100 years after Congress approves establishment of the Conservation Forest.

All net revenues generated from proactively managing the Conservation Forest will be invested in conservation work in Lake County. The conservation work can occur on federal lands, State of Montana lands, private lands and tribal lands. Net revenues will most likely be invested in the Swan valley for a few decades.

13 Comments

  1. More information about this proposal is here: http://www.swanview.org/articles/whats-new/stop_the_takeover_of_national_forest_lands_in_the_swan_valley_now/234

    Essentially, the wants to take over management of 60,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest (which contains prime grizzly bear, lynx and bull trout habitat) for more industrial logging.

    Not even all members of the Lake County Conservation District (LCCD) are in favor of the radical idea. In fact, LCCD Supervisors Curt Rosman, Susan Gardner and Toni Burton wrote “Enough time and money have been spent on this dead end proposal. It is time to let it die and concentrate on our current responsibilities.”

    You can read their full dissent letter here: http://swanforestinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2016/11/Swan-Study-Counterpoint.pdf

  2. I have owned land in the Swan Valley for 28 years. I am a forester/ restoration ecologist and soil scientist. Much of my work takes place on private land in the Swan Valley. I also operate a Sawmill that uses the by-products of our forest restoration efforts. My mentors are elders from the Swan Valley – Bud Moore; the Brauns, the Owens’s, Neil Meyer and others . I humbly trust I have gathered a small measure of their wisdom.

    “Unencumbered land management” is a great idea if the managing land steward could be trusted to do a good job and honestly consider long-term forest ecologic integrity; and simultaneously allow for a sustain yield of forest products for generations to come. The DNRC has not done a good job in the Swan. Yes, there are timber sales that came out very nicely, but on the whole, especially in the Swan, the State has not proved up. I know this because I have assessed many state timber sales for their sustainability merits, and not one has passed muster. However, keep in mind my assessments were made years ago and I have recently observed harvests that show great promise. I am cautiously optimistic in regards to state lands.

    The plan proposes using the very same approach that got us into the current pickle; Single Use Sustained Yield . A concept that has some merit, but is extremely vulnerable to corruption and greed and followed by forest degradation. The pressures that the lumber market exerts on resource management efforts are enormous and most often degrade the very ecosystem we are attempting to enhance.

    The proposal emphasizes the value of the wood being taken off in the immediate future; while the conversation should be about enhancing the ecologic integrity and increasing timber values into the future. The emphasis on the immediate financial gain is a red flag that cannot be ignored. In short, the proposal is nothing but a timber grab.

    Using a different approach, the best forestry means leaving the biggest and best trees for future generations. This means the trees to be cut now are fairly low quality. Because of over-cutting by the USFS, Plum Creek, and the DNRC, we find ourselves in an era of necessary contribution. This mean investing in the forest land. The Conservation District’s plan describes just the opposite. Yet, harvesting trees under an honest forest enhancement approach would bring in some funds, but in my opinion not nearly the amount the plan suggests.

  3. Once again…the more you know.

    http://missoulian.com/opinion/columnists/let-swan-forest-initiative-die/article_bdca5f7f-ac97-5cd4-a724-58d58d355808.html

    Let Swan Forest Initiative die

    Why won’t Lake County Conservation District Chairman Jim Simpson respond to our concerns about his Swan Forest Initiative that would have Montana take over logging of 60,000 acres of wildlife-rich Flathead National Forest and share the alleged profits with Lake County? It appears Montana could turn a profit only by claiming it would get three times the price for its logs and by over-logging fish and wildlife habitat.

    The Flathead National Forest Plan’s logging analysis is based on actual stumpage/log values and shows it loses about $100 on each load of logs sold. Simpson flat-out refuses to tell us why he uses a stumpage estimate three times larger than actual values to show a profit should Montana instead control the logging.

    We’ve also pointed out that FireWise Montana indicates the type of logging Simpson would do on these mature federal forests will result in younger forests that produce flame lengths three times as high and would cause fire to travel at three times the speed. Yet Simpson is going around with a slideshow saying this logging will reduce fire spread.

    He hasn’t responded to us about that either. Instead, he says he’s simply taking a vote on whether people think he has a good idea. He appears more interested in running a scam than having a public dialogue discussing facts.

    We think Simpson should listen to three of his LCCD associates who in 2016 wrote “enough time and money have been spent on this dead end proposal. It is time to let it die.”

    We urge you to tell Simpson the same by visiting swanforestinitiative.org, emailing swanstudy@gmail.com, or mailing the LCCD at 64352 U.S. Highway 93, Ronan, MT 59864. These lands belong to all Americans, not just Lake County.

    Keith J. Hammer of Kalispell is chair of the Swan View Coalition.

    • Some perspective is needed, folks: the Swan Forest Initiative would involve 60,000 of the Flathead National Forest’s 2.4 million acres — 0.025 percent of the forest. About 1 million acres is designated wilderness. The 2015 Bear Creek Fire burned almost 71,000 acres.

      • Sharon, I just got a reply from Jim simpson to my June e-mailed questions: He mentioned that several harvest methods including clear cuts will be employed: thining for fire reduction, thining and clear cut for merchantable stands, although he indicates that clear cuts are no longer the favored way for forest health. All comments must be in by August 31.

        • It just seems to me that there might be common ground in terms of specifics, as Mark says above.. since he says there can be good quality work done…
          Like “we would support it if it had no clearcutting, or less than 100 acres per year) and (thinning should only be from below and leave at least x basal area of 70 year old and above trees) with units spatially arrayed to be greater than 100 feet from riparian and from identified wildlife corridors.”

  4. The FS typically gets less for their stumpage because of all the hoops you have to jump through to operate a FS timber sale. Someone is always trying to point out that they actually lose money on timber sales. I wonder how much money they loose on wildfires.
    I don’t believe the state’s can do any better, at least not in Oregon. But, the frustration is so high with the way things are currently managed that many are looking for solutions.
    Enough fires in Montana yet for you Matthew?
    The Chetco Bar fire in Oregon is now over 1,800 acres. That’s how we take care of our wilderness lands.

    • Why on earth are there some wildfires burning in Montana right now? Why in the world is there a big wildfire in the east-central part of the state?

      Why in the world did some lightening strikes start wildfires in some forests in western Montana? I mean, it’s just amazing that fire-dependent ecosystems burn. Boggles my mind. Here’s the July weather report from Missoula. Note the average high temp so far in the month has been 92 and there has been a whopping 0.00 inches of rain.

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