Tester Adjusts Forest Bill

From Great Falls Tribune, here.

However, Tester warned that if the final committee bill does not contain mandated logging levels aimed at sustaining the state’s dwindling wood-products industry, then it will be “dead on arrival.”

“I have said from the beginning that I will only support a bill that contains the four carefully balanced provisions that have resulted from years of folks working together, those being timber, wilderness, recreation and restoration,” Tester said. “The committee’s bill stripped out the timber and restoration certainties in my bill. All four components are critically important to this bill.”

11 thoughts on “Tester Adjusts Forest Bill”

  1. Critics want ALL timber management aspects of this bill dropped. Tester KNOWS that litigation looms as a “Plan B” for preservationists, and that lawsuits are likely to succeed in stopping timber projects there. I propose that we exchange an exemption on litigation in favor of mandated consensus on the projects envisioned by Tester. However, opponents would be expected to back such a plan. No wonder Tester is holding tough on the mandates, and it is also likely that he will drop the bill altogether if he can’t get jobs out of the whole she-bang. The battle between conservationists and preservationists on this issue is quite interesting. The truth is that even if the bill passes in some form or another, the litigation option still looms largely, with lawsuits likely to succeed.

  2. Well Sharon, that “new era” piece in the NY Times largely ignored economic and ecological realities in exchange for feel-good journalism. We’re in the middle of a huge economic crisis – based entirely on over-consumption and over-development – and that reality isn’t about to change anytime soon.

    “It’s a new dawn.” – Jefferson Airplane @ Woodstock

  3. I’m missing something..wouldn’t the economic crisis make us more supportive of some kind of agreement that paves the way for continuing jobs in the timber industry while protecting the environment? I must be missing something. Wuerthner sounds like he is still “bayoneting the wounded”(from Jack Ward Thomas’ timber wars analogy).

  4. Sharon – Montana’s high-elevation, remote, and slow-growing lodgepole pine forests require substantial federal subsidies to compete in the wood products or energy markets. That’s been the case forever (the Beaverhead and Deerlodge are notorious below-cost timber forests) and even more so now when the demand for wood products is at a per capita all-time low.

    Do the American people think that subsidizing timber industry jobs to log Montana’s national forests is a worthwhile taxpayer expense? I doubt it.

  5. Great point- but that’s not the way we think about lodgepole in the equally high elevation, not so remote, and equally slow growing southern Rockies.
    We think, it’s dead, it needs to be removed from roadsides so it doesn’t fall on people, and areas around communities need to be cleared for firebreaks and for firefighter safety. It’s mostly done with service contracts because the material has so little value.

    So the economics has to do with “if we could use the material, rather than burn it, would it be good for our communities and good for the environment?” And the economics would have to be “anything that reduces what we pay people to remove it” would therefore be economical. If it costs $x per acre to treat the fuels, and some industry uses it and makes it cost $(x-y), isn’t that a good thing?

  6. People like Wuerthner and Chad Hanson claim that dead lodgepole doesn’t burn, or that homes in the forests shouldn’t even be there and deserve no protections. And that “re-wilding” is preferable to scientific forest management and fire safety. And that whatever grows back from catastrophic fires is “natural, resilient and desirable”, regardless of the fire’s impacts on plants, animals and people.

    Matt, on the other hand, wants new wilderness in exchange for…..ummm….nothing! He refuses to address the promised litigation to Tester’s Bill, if there is any logging attached to the bill. I pegged this as a “bait and switch” when it was first proposed, predicting that litigation would be a Plan B for preservationists to thwart logging. If I were a sneaky preservationist, I would support Tester’s Bill only until all the new wilderness was locked-in, THEN litigate the hell out of it.

  7. Since collaboration has failed Tester’s Bill, I’m seeing another bill introduced in the House (H. R. 5192) that designates the current beetle kill event as an emergency situation, with expedited treatments that are categorically-excluded from extensive NEPA. Also included in this bill is the designation that removed biomass will be considered to be a “renewable” source of energy, and subsidized, offsetting other “dirtier” forms of energy, like coal.

    This wouldn’t be a place-based bill but, it would focus on areas with significant beetle kill and unhealthy forests. The bill seems too good to be true, and Earthjustice spent a lot of time compiling a shakey collection of studies, (including Chad Hanson’s flawed vision that there are no catastrophic wildfires) to combat the “common sense” of emergency fuels reductions.

    I have no doubts that this bill has a tough road ahead. If it passes, it will also suffer the certainty of litigation, despite excluding wilderness areas. I also have no doubt that Democrats will seek to water it down in their Plan A.

  8. I guess since the Obama Administration has now declared that dead trees don’t burn, and that catastrophic wildfires do NOT exist (through Jay Jensen), we’ll have no more fire problems in our western forests, now. YAYYY FOR US!!!!! 200 million dead trees will make all those black-backed woodpeckers so very, very happy!! Yep, no emergency to see here…MOVE ALONG!!… Nothing to see HERE!


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