AWR Responds to Timber Industry Ads: No ‘lawless logging’ in Montana

On Wednesday RY Timber, Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Roseburg Forest Products and Sun Mountain Lumber took out this full-page advertisement in at least six Montana newspapers, including the Helena Independent Record, Missoulian, Kalispell Daily Interlake, Great Falls Tribune, Montana Standard and Bozeman Chronicle. According to Ad reps, the retail cost of the advertisements likely ran between $27,000 and $31,000. 

Among other things, the timber industry Ads called for 1) scrapping the entire Forest Service public appeals process and 2) exempting many timber sales in Montana from judicial review.  These are the same timber companies pushing Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which would require logging on over 156 square miles of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenia National Forest over the next 15 years.  More information on the timber industry Ads can be found here.    Today, Mike Garrity – Alliance for the Wild Rockies executive director and a 5th generation Montanan – responds to the Ad with this guest column in the Montana Standard.

No ‘lawless logging’ in Montana
By Mike Garrity

A handful of timber corporations recently took out full-page ads statewide to criticize the Alliance for the Wild Rockies for doing what we do well — working to keep Montana “high, wide and handsome” as Joseph Kinsey Howard famously wrote.

We protect public land from corporations and government bureaucracies that want to log public lands without following the law. To put it simply, they want to return to the “good old days” before we had any environmental laws and corporations such as the Anaconda Company called all the shots.

As a fifth generation Montanan, I clearly recall the days when Silver Bow Creek ran red with mine waste and the Clark Fork River was a dead, sludge-filled industrial sewer. And it was not that long ago when you had to turn your car lights on in the middle of the day in Butte because the air was so polluted. These were also the days when our forests had little big game and native fish were beginning to vanish because of massive clearcutting.

Today Montana has some of the best hunting and fishing in the world. The state recently celebrated the return of native westslope cutthroat trout to Silver Bow Creek and Milltown Dam no longer holds millions of tons of toxic waste seeping into the groundwater.

Do we really want to go back to these good old days of cut-and-run where there are no environmental laws? Montanans love our national forests, which belong to the American people, not to the career bureaucrats in the Forest Service or the CEOs and stockholders of timber corporations.

Yet, in their ads, the timber corporations clearly laid out their goals for the conditions and laws they want applied to their personal profit-driven extraction of public resources. In their own words, the timber companies want to “scrap the entire Forest Service Administrative Appeals Process,” “exempt from judicial review those timber sales which deal with trees that have been killed or severely damaged by the Mountain Pine Beetle,” and “amend the Equal Access to Justice Act by requiring a cash bond in these types of administrative appeals and lawsuits.”

In plain language, what that means is that these corporations no longer want citizens to have a voice in how our public lands get used or abused. But that ignores both the history and intent of law and policy on public lands management.

Congress placed citizen suit provisions in virtually all federal environmental laws because citizens are often the only group willing to police the government. As the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals famously wrote, citizens “stand in the shoes” of regulatory enforcement agencies to enforce the law — and to do so without any prospect of personal benefit. If someone throws a brick through a window, the police would enforce the law. But when the federal government breaks the law, citizens are often the only enforcers.

Unfortunately a disturbing trend has appeared as big environmental groups such as the Montana Wilderness Association and The Wilderness Society increasingly take foundation money to “collaborate” with timber corporations. And much like the Vichy French helped the Nazis occupy France during WWII; these collaborators now have to face the harsh and shameful legacy of what they have done and continue to do.

Behind it all is the very simple truth now revealed by the timber companies’ own damning ads: these corporations want access and the subsidy to extract timber resources from public lands unencumbered by environmental laws. Their profit, our loss, and a return to the bad old days of corporate domination of Montana’s lands and people. But Montanans don’t want to return to those days when corporations like the Anaconda Co. controlled public policy and the rivers ran red with mine waste. We want a sustainable supply of clean water, fish, wildlife and timber.

It’s time to tell these corporations and their collaborative partners that the days of rape and run in Montana are over. Montana is worth fighting for, which is exactly what the Alliance for the Wild Rockies intends to continue to do.

Mike Garrity is executive director Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

21 thoughts on “AWR Responds to Timber Industry Ads: No ‘lawless logging’ in Montana”

  1. A huge strawman designed to block the future, using the past. Does ANYONE really think we’ll repeal all the cornerstone environmental laws, in favor of pure profit and gleeful ecological obliteration? I don’t think the public is dumb enough to buy into all the finger pointing. They want less gridlock, healthier forests, and an end to the endless psuedo-controversy. It is important that site-specific science must be followed, and that board feet is merely a nice side effect of sensible forest management.

  2. Larry, If anyone is “blocking the future, using the past,” it’s the timber industry in their $30,000 Ads calling for, among other things, 1) exempting many timber sales in Montana from judicial review and 2) essentially preventing citizens and organization’s from holding the Forest Service accountable through the judicial and executive branches of government by requiring cash bonds for public administrative appeals and lawsuits.

    I would hope most people would view these timber industry demands as huge steps backwards, not only as it relates to national forest management, but also as it generally relates to the entire framework of our federal government and US Constitution. Closing the court-house doors entirely or essentially only allowing the rich to sue the federal government ain’t roads we need to travel.

    I would entirely agree with you, though, that site-specific science needs to be followed when managing our federal public lands.

  3. This is not the case. The pendulum has swung both ways. Now it’s starting to get a little more balanced. We all know the many ads printed in the independent refuting major industry and forest stewardship. Really? I’m glad blogging has been a science base medium to get the message you want to portray! The science is there, however the public perception has been muffed these posts. Just wanted to say that. Unfortunately a small majority actually believe that this ad was biased! Oh wait, who actually reads this?

  4. Larry, it isn’t the public that is dumb enough to buy this foolishness, but there are plenty in our extreme right House of Reps that will buy anything that industry tells them, or asks them to do. That is what is scary. It is sad to see some Montana Congressional people leading the charge on this biased approach to forest management. Here in north Idaho the pendulum has swung from extreme over-cutting and roading to minimum logging. Much of this can be attributed to the economy and cutbacks in building houses.

    But mandating logging levels and forest management details in federal legislation is wrong, wrong, wrong, and is almost always done at the behest of some pressure group (left and right). Kinda like running a cruise ship across the Atlantic by taking a vote of the passengers.

    • The EXACT same thing can be said about the extreme left lawmakers, buying anything that corporate preservationism tells them, who want NO management, at all. Many of us would be very happy with collaboration, consensus and compromise but, those “C-words” are unacceptable to the anti-management folks. I tend to think that actual scientists are a LOT more willing to compromise, than to be marginalized by lawmakers.

  5. Ahhh yes….”Viva la resistance!!”, eh?

    “And much like the Vichy French helped the Nazis occupy France during WWII; these collaborators now have to face the harsh and shameful legacy of what they have done and continue to do.”

    I enjoyed the creative spin back to Nazi occupation. Does he really think that buys credibility???

    What did Derek comment on an earlier post….”It’s always loudest on the fringe”…or something like that???

    Responsible forest management = “harsh and shameful legacy.” Hmmmmm……..good thing it’s a three day weekend. I guess I’ll need the time to rethink what I’m doing.

  6. I don’t know about others on this blog, but I’ve grown tired of the “collaboration” bashing. Are there collaborations that are poorly, even illegally, organized? Sure. Are there collaborations that are skewed to one specific interest? Sure. Are there collaborations that produce unintended or unexpected outcomes for many members? Sure. So what are we to do? Throw the baby out with the bath water? Let’s not talk to each other. There’s a good model for that called Congress. How’s that model working?

    I have collaborative partners from the forest products industry. From wilderness advocacy organizations. From mountain bikers. From sportsman groups. All of whom I have a great deal of respect for. We disagree on a number of substantive issues. But we also share a strong desire to seek common ground. Who knew we are also comparable to Nazi conspirators?

    • Marek,

      Can one be against a specific collaboration effort, pointing flaws and biases, yet still be a proponent of collaboration? Recently, I mentioned to some friends that I am a supporter of both collaboration and dialogue/inquiry as tools for adaptive governance, yet I am very much opposed to the way the Forest Service has served up both. In the case of collaboration the Forest Service seems eager to use it at the project scale where the outcome is biased toward “projects,” supporting the agencies long-standing “can do” mentality and its emphasis on multiple use “products.” Where are the collaboratives in large-scale assessments and accompanying planning efforts where landscape-scale policy might be set that serves to bracket the space in which projects are designed/implemented? Where is the collaboration in policy-making generally?

      As per dialogue and inquiry, I see a bunch of money being spent on some safety stuff, but what happened to the broader organizational management/leadership needs identified some years ago by Dialogos International?, e.g. here

      The Forest Service’s employee moral now sits at an all-time low. Where are the dialogic outreach efforts to try to get employees and managers talking and working one with another?

      • Dave, to answer your first question (perhaps it was rhetorical?), absolutely (see my response to Matthew below). That’s exactly my point (perhaps poorly made). We shouldn’t be throwing out the concept of collaboration based on the flaws of some specific examples. I also agree that collaboration should not be limited to project-level planning. But having just been through a collaborative effort for a forest plan, I can tell you that the majority of stakeholders involved could not wait to get through “planning” and on to projects. I’m not saying I agree with that thinking, just pointing it out and noting that it’s not just the agency. I know from our recent effort, that for every one of us talking about landscape-scale or watershed-scale or 10s of thousands of acres, there was someone else who wanted to go out in the field and discuss whether a management area boundary should be 50′ from a specific road or contour. Yes, that’s more a question of scale, but it also has to do with tangible versus abstract.

    • Hey there Merek: You wrote,

      “Are there collaborations that are poorly, even illegally, organized? Sure. Are there collaborations that are skewed to one specific interest? Sure. Are there collaborations that produce unintended or unexpected outcomes for many members? Sure?”

      I too believe this is the case, Merek, with certain “collaborative” groups, especially some notable ones in Montana that have been discussed at length on this blog.

      The thing I can’t understand, Merek, is that you seem to not be upset so much with the poorly, even illegally, organized “collaborations.” Nor are you that upset that some “collaborations” are skewed to one specific interest.

      Instead, you seem most upset with what you term “collaboration bashing.”

      Yet if people are pointing out the fact that some “collaborations” are (in your own words) poorly, or even illegally, organized or are skewed to the interests of timber mills and/or well-funded enviro groups how is that inappropriate in your mind? Should we just remain silent while theys poorly organized, skewed “collaborations” take hold everywhere across our federal public lands?

      Merek, I can understand why someone such as yourself, working for The Nature Conservancy, may not like what some people have to say about some of these “collaborations.” However, you seem to also agree that many “collaborations” have serious structural problems.

      • Thanks Matthew. Good questions. Addressing your last comment first, actually I’m usually indifferent as to what people are saying about most of these specific collaborative efforts. Most are out west and I’m clearly not familiar with them, so I actually gain quite a bit learning from what others think – both pros and cons. Ultimately hoping that we can learn from those efforts in our own attempts back east.

        And that really gets at my point (poorly made, and perhaps overly simplistic, I guess) that we shouldn’t stop collaborating because of bad apples. Flawed efforts (illegal, skewed or otherwise) should indeed be scrutinized. I think that can only help us build “better” collaborations or partnerships in the future. The posted article above, however, moves beyond a critique of a specific collaborative effort (in Montana) and sheds a negative light on collaborations in general (even without the Nazi references). And there have been other comments on this blog that make similar reaches. I don’t think that’s anymore helpful than silence over the flaws, wouldn’t you agree?

        • Of course, it is all-too-soon to be making a judgement on whether collaboration is working well, or not. Marek is saying that all collaborative efforts are not going to be perfectly balanced between all the stakeholders. The key is proposing plans that your opponents would be willing to accept. Some stakeholders (included, or not) will never offer a fair compromise. That is why some refuse to embrace a real-world, fair collaboration, which requires good faith efforts from all. I continue to support full transparency.

  7. Marek: One reason collaborations are bashed so much here is because of their dismal record of success. I am personally surprised that so many members of the “green” industry are against them because it has been my perspective that they’ve been the principal beneficiaries of these failures. Maybe I’ve been wrong, or maybe they’ve been spoiled, but most of the horror stories I’ve heard regarding collaborations involve dominance or legal actions using “inside” information as ultimate tactics of “environmental” members. Thus, disenchantment and avoidance by others, and failure.

    Personally, I think our nation’s forests and treasuries would benefit mightily by limiting collaborative memberships to local counties, businesses, and agency reps. Too many of these things seem to be neutered when local people try and work with “outsiders”; whether from enviro groups or industrial corporations.

    The method might be ok, and maybe should just be tweaked, but the results have not been good. And they cost a lot of time and money — particularly on the part of true volunteers and concerned citizens. They seem to work well for lawyers, though, and people paid to attend their meetings.

    • Seriously, Bob? This strikes me as particularly narrow-minded:

      Personally, I think our nation’s forests and treasuries would benefit mightily by limiting collaborative memberships to local counties, businesses, and agency reps.

      Maybe, you were “just being sarcastic” as Derek often says about some of his comments here. Or maybe you feel that this is an appropriate recipe for collaboration on our national forests. I find it a disgusting proposal, nothing more than “devolution.” If we are going to give control of our national forests to locals, maybe we ought to just deed them over to the counties and let them dispose of the national forests.

      • So, have the “provinces” in Canada, who own 98% of the public forests VS. 2% for the Federal, been a dismal failure in forest management? Wouldn’t that be a good model for “state” ownership of forests. As a bit of an aside, I wonder how the chain of title went from the King to the Province’s Vs.our king (federal)to private to federal and states get school sections and bed of rivers.I wonder if it’s the same in all the commonwealth contrys. No, I don’t think the states will be getting any Federal title soon, eventhough it would be a good idea. I think the collaborative moderate greens in the “big green” groups will grow frustrated and weary of the fringe radicals who will certainly litigate every one of their “collaborative” endeavors, and eventually endorse “not subject to judicial review” legislation. Like I said earlier. It’s not about the ecology anymore. It’s not even about the ideology anymore. It’s all about the psychology of little Napoleons who have “gamed” some feel good enviro laws to shove their ideology down the throat of the majority.The CBD and AWR are no different than Richard Nixon. It’s about the power now. Until they push it too far.

  8. Seriously, Dave. Local people have sustainably managed our forests and grasslands for more than 10,000 years — and now (since the 1960s and 1980s) we need some elected officials from the east coast to tell us how to do it? THAT is the precedent — NOT local occupation and use.

    By referring to my perspective as “disgusting” certainly tips your hand regarding your personal politics and capability to play well with others. I’m guessing you’re pro-collaboration, too?

    And, yes, I also believe this idea is something more (and totally different, of course) than “devolution,” whatever that means. I think it would be a great step forward to deed the lands back to the counties and get the federal government out of the national resource management business (they don’t manage cattle ranches, fishing fleets, or coal mines as examples.) Won’t happen any time soon I’m sure, but it seems to have worked pretty well for the eastern states — of course, they’ve had the advantage of near-colonial control over vast tracks of our western lands while they’ve continued to manage their own counties as they see fit the past 100+ years.

    Ironically, there was an editorial in this morning’s Eugene Register-Guard on this very topic that I submitted to Sharon a few hours ago. Should make for an interesting — maybe even disgusting, if we’re lucky — discussion on this blog. (Yup, a little “sarcasm” on that last choice of adjectives).

    • Yes, I’m pro collaboration, when it is done in the context of social learning. Decision making is retained by statute I believe to officials of the US government. And maybe my “disgusting” remark about your comment did tip my hand as to my “politics and capabilities to play well with others” (“whatever that means”). So be it.

      But this does much to tip your hand as well:

      I think it would be a great step forward to deed the lands back to the counties and get the federal government out of the national resource management business

      Wow.. That’s devolution writ large! Nice to see you “out” your true intent. PS.. When I put “devolution and ‘federal lands'” into a Google search engine I get over 80,000 results. I’m surprised that you hadn’t heard the term used in this context. Or did I misspell it?

      As to the article in today’s Eugene Register-Guard article, I assume you mean this one:

      I note that the article supports your devolution proposal, and also refers to Robert Nelson’s work. I wrote about some of Nelson’s recent work (which, no surprise I take exception to) here at NCFP, see:

      • Thanks, Dave: I think we’ve identified another key point in which we have entirely different perspectives! Yup, I “outed” my true intent in 1980 when I attended the national Libertarian Conference in Denver that year as an Oregon delegate. My key personal issue was privatization of federal lands (“Sagebrush Revolution”) because I was very concerned about the centralization of the planning and policy issues that were then developing. Not my thing (“I wasn’t successful”), so I’ve pretty much avoided politics ever since. Except for having opinions on it, of course. I think I may have voted once (as a favor to an elderly friend) in the past 20 years.

        I wasn’t sure how you were using devolution, so took it from the “degradation” angle — but I wasn’t sure that’s what you were intending, so I didn’t offer any counter argument. Sure enough, I took your Google advice and learned that devolution can specifically mean transferring federal holdings to state and county hands. Call me a devolutionist! That certainly does seem accurate, given the latter definition.

        I think our long-term strength is in a republic of independent, self-sufficient (so much as possible) states. My personal opinion is that we waste a tremendous amount of time and resources trying to create a top-heavy centralized government that won’t (and can’t) ever function without the risk of being vulnerable to toppling under pressure. I’m more into Franklin’s snake of nine parts ideal.

        • I too think that “we waste a tremendous amount of time and resources trying to create a top-heavy centralized government that won’t (and can’t) ever function without the risk of being vulnerable to toppling under pressure.” Maybe it is because I used to lean toward libertarianism myself. But I always loved the idea of public lands, which in part turned me away from uber-libertarian ideas. Then there was the problem of libertarians turning a blind eye toward the environment. The more I studied both environmental degradation and human population dynamics, the more I realized that I could not retain my libertarian toehold. Neither could I remain silent as to the problem of bad government, whether it be administrative, legislative, or judicial. We need good market mechanisms AND good government.

          Nevertheless, I’ve always thought that federal employees, acting as public servants, ought to learn how to manage (and lead) in ways that would justify both their salaries (and pensions) and would honor the gift of public lands that the US government gave to its citizens–all of them. But instead we seem to have stagnated into a bureaucratic poverty trap. Worse, nobody seems to care other than those who believe that the best government is no government, or at least no central government.

          As for forest planning, there lies one of the areas of my real disgust. Thirty years of failed Planning, and no one in the Forest Service WO willing to listen to Planning’s dissenters. Much of my twenty years of forest blogging has been to point out the many failures of planning, alongside bureaucratic blundering generally. See, e.g. here:

          So, even though I want to preserve our public treasures, and want them managed for all the people, I too want to see a very different type organizational management at work not only in the Forest Service, but in government writ larger. Hope springs eternal, but patience wears thin after all these years hoping and prodding.

  9. Dave: I am having a hard time quite believing this, but I read what you wrote (twice) and think I’m in total agreement with everything you’re saying. Even the disconnect between organized Libertarians and environmental issues. I didn’t quit living and believing in libertarian ideals, but I did quit going to meetings or reading their literature — 30+ years ago.

    Given that, I still don’t know why you think us Devolutionaries (thanks, too, for the improved vocabulary) are “disgusting.” We seem to be trying to achieve similar goals by taking different paths, and isn’t that what diversity is all (or partly) about?

    • I don’t find anyone disgusting, Bob. Sometimes annoying, but not disgusting. I came close to abandoning that characterization when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were running the country into the ground, however. I do find ideas disgusting, for example the Forest Service’s long-standing addiction to capital P planning, while ignoring adaptive management, and organizational management ideas generally. Also I find disgusting the idea that we ought to turn over the management of our national treasures to locals. I don’t know why that idea proves so compelling to many. I have studied the evolution of thought about forests and their relationship to culture, both here in the US and around the world. I have also studied the evolution of governmental policy regarding the public lands, and find the case for continuing the lands in the federal domain to be just. So I will continue my “war of words,” in attempts to nudge the FEDS into better management of those lands.

      That said, I admit that I might be wrong, and that those who suggest that the only way that we have a chance to stop species loss is to set up a situation were the treat is very real and cannot be hid behind the facade of “public lands.” That “situation” might happen rather quickly if we were to follow the lead of those, like my Congressman Rob Bishop, who want to give locals control of, even outright title to much of the federal lands. But I will not advocate for such. In fact I’ll continue to rail against it, while continuing my pressure to reform the FEDS, whether or not I have a chance to make any difference. That’s why I post stuff here at NCFP:

      What was it that Gandhi said? Something like, “Everything we do is futile, but we must do it anyway.”


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