Crossposted from Left in the West here.
Draft Omnibus Bill: North Fork Flathead protections in, Tester’s mandated logging bill out
by: Matthew Koehler
Wed Dec 08, 2010 at 12:57:22 PM MST
The folks at Politico have obtained a draft copy of the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2010“, which is currently being circulated by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).
A quick search of the 327 page draft turned up good news for clean water and wildlife habitat for Montana’s North Fork of the Flathead region:
Title XXXI – North Fork Flathead River Watershed Protection (page 115-116)
“Subject to valid existing rights, the eligible Federal land is withdrawn from – 1) all forms of location, entry, and patent under the mining laws: and 2) disposition under all laws relating to mineral leasing and geothermal leasing.
Perhaps equally important is what’s missing from the draft Public Lands Omnibus Bill: Senator Tester’s “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.” Since my views regarding the FJRA have been well-stated over the past two years here at LiTW and elsewhere, I won’t bore anyone – or annoy anyone – with too many additional thoughts on the matter, except to repeat this.
I’d encourage Wilderness supporters in Montana to consider the fact that if Senator Tester and the collaborators (Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation, Montana Trout Unlimited and few timber mill owners) would have accepted the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s draft revisions back in May 2010, Montanans would have seen about 660,000 acres of new Wilderness designations – and some important watershed restoration provisions – included in this draft Omnibus bill.
However, what transpired was actually what we predicted all along. The bull-headed insistence from Senator Tester, MWA, NWF, Montana TU and the timber mills that any Montana Wilderness bill must include mandated logging of over a minimum of 100,000 acres cost all of us the opportunity to see over 660,000 acres of world-class wildands in Montana designated as Wilderness.
Hopefully in the next session of Congress, Senator Tester and his collaborators won’t hold Montana Wilderness protection hostage in order to get their wish for mandated logging. Then again, all indications are that Senator Tester will simply reintroduce FJRA as is.
Ironically, Senator Tester’s bill might find a warmer reception in the new Congress, where Republican members might actually like the idea of politicians by-passing science and the established open, inclusive and transparent processes which currently govern the Forest Service and other public lands agencies, in favor of mandating logging, drilling, mining and grazing on federal public lands in their own states. Stay tuned….