Colt Summit- The Next Round

colt summit table

This is one of our favorite projects to follow, for newer readers. One of the reasons is that there is a narrative that you will hear from some “if only the FS worked with collaboratives, then litigation would cease to be a problem.” I think I even heard that in some of the Chief’s testimony before Congress. Colt Summit is a data point that refutes that narrative.

From the current EA (my bold):

In response, members of the Lolo Restoration Committee unanimously agreed Colt Summit was consistent with the 13 principles of the Montana Forest Restoration Committee and the project would accomplish its restoration, monitoring, and adaptive management goals. Members of the Southwestern Crown Collaborative applauded the project for its responsiveness to their strategy for landscape restoration. Support for the project was provided by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and United States Fish and Wildlife Service; agencies responsible for managing the recovery of grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and other wildlife in the project area.

Last week, the next stage of Colt Summit was released. To summarize, the judge wanted more lynx cumulative effects analysis. As far as I can understand it, the claims that the project would hurt lynx were not upheld, but they just didn’t analyze the cumulative impacts the way (at the scale?) the judge thought was best. (other more legally minded folks are welcome to clarify my understanding). The FS provided it, but it wasn’t in the right format. (I don’t think folks are allowed to ask format questions, but I could be wrong; I’d like to hear the FS story of how that misunderstanding happened).

So hopefully now it is in the correct format. Here’s the link to all the analyses. An amazing amount of verbiage for 600 acres of commercial thinning. As Derek would say, this would probably not be a big deal in Wyoming, Colorado, or South Dakota (I don’t know about points west). If I had to generate a hypothesis, it would be that groups in Montana like to sue more, rather than any difference in environmental conditions. I’d be interested in other hypotheses that explain the data, including this data point. Here’s where WELC claims “Victory!”, perhaps a bit early. It does make me curious who funds them and why they pick the projects they do.

It is the July 2013 Supplemental EA here..

The original Environmental Assessment has been supplemented to assure the Court and the public the Forest Service has provided the hard look that is required; more specifically, to characterize past projects or actions the Court found to be lacking in the original Environmental Assessment and project record. In this SEA, the Forest Service describes past, ongoing, and reasonably forseeable actions and characterizes their aggregate effects on lynx. This characterization is provided at the scale of the LAU because the Forest Service prevailed in its selection of the LAU as the appropriate scale to conduct such analysis Friends of the Wild Swan et al v Austin (D. Mont. 2012) (9:11-cv-00125-DWM, Doc. 50, Filed 07/11/12, pp. 22-23 and 40-43). In response to public comment, activities outside of the LAU have also been examined. In addition, portions of the original Environmental Assessment have been modified to provide a more comprehensive discussion of the project in order to support the supplemental analysis for lynx.

I like that the District clarified and improved some other parts of the document based on what they were hearing. They are trying to do a good job at explaining what they are doing.

However, if the judge is happy with this one, the taxpayer paid for all the supplemental analysis because one group decided to sue. Somehow it doesn’t seem …er… just. And no, because the court system is called “justice system” does not change my impression. It seems like lawyers would say it provides “accountability” for the Forest Service, but there doesn’t seem to be much accountability for the watchers of the Forest Service to the citizens.

In my opinion, a certification-like process would do more for accountability across all forests, be more transparent, improve actions done rather than actions as written, and be less costly for the taxpayer.

33 thoughts on “Colt Summit- The Next Round”

    • The goal of most (all?) litigators is to prolong the suit as long as possible & to make as much money as possible for themselves / their law firm.

      • Really funny, sad and ironic if you feel this “Ms. Anne.” But, hey, keep these substance-less comments coming people!

        • Quit with the talk down, Matthew, your comments add no substance.
          No, I don’t “feel that way”, that’s based on experience.

          • My experience, too, Ms. Anne. So far the lawyers have been able to keep this going for more than 20 years — and all without the least sign of any significant accomplishment except their own financial gains and the gains of the corporations and NGOs that hire them..

            At some point the Enviros will come to realize that they’ve been played like a banjo by industrial forest owners (“stockholders”) who have been able to rake in billions by wearing the black hat when it comes to shutting down their largest competitor, the US government.

            And they owe it all to their lawyers and bean counters. And that process has been very well documented every step of the way.

          • Anonymous-posting “Ms. Anne”….Perhaps if you are so worried about “talk down” coming your way, you shouldn’t make substance-less comments like the one you did above. I respond in kind. And your comment here deserved it.

            The goal of most (all?) litigators is to prolong the suit as long as possible & to make as much money as possible for themselves / their law firm.

            For the record, I haven’t been involved in that many lawsuits involving timber sales over the past 15 years working on these national forest issues (maybe one or two dozen), but NEVER ONCE did I hear anyone say our goal was to prolong lawsuits to make as much money for ourselves and law firms as possible. That’s an insulting lie and I won’t let it stand. Fact is, on numerous occasions I heard us say we wanted the case resolved as soon as possible. For the record, most all forest activists I know either volunteer their time or are compensated at a very modest rate, if they are lucky enough to work for a non-profit organization. I myself make about $15,000 to $20,000 doing this work. Yep, it’s all about the money “Ms. Anne”….I clearly give a rats ass about ecology, wildlife, public process and America’s public lands. Thanks.

            • I agree with you Matthew, but I don’t think you are typical. I was looking at the 990’s for other litigating organizations and they pay their officers substantially more. I think they really believe that they are doing “the right thing.”

              But here’s my thought. I think they owe it to the public to be honest and forthright about their reasons for not wanting projects and what they would accept. Otherwise it feels like “we have the power of money to litigate, so we will make you do what we want, and we don’t have to explain it to regular people. We will tell DOJ folks and the judge in a closed room if we win. If we don’t, well, we made all your federal employees do all that work, and it was justified because our point of view is correct.”

              Once I was on one of those conference calls with the plaintiffs and OGC and DOJ and the Solicitor’s Office, and various other individuals (I liked to estimate the cost to government of these calls- but it’s unlikely that GAO or anyone else has ever looked at that.. why? you might ask.. ), the plaintiff’s lawyer said something along the lines of “you need to do the right thing.” This was in the context of a possible settlement for a project, of doing more NEPA for the next similar project (made sense to the lawyers but not so much to the NEPA folks).

              I think they think they know what “the right thing” is. I think people who work on projects tend to think more in terms of a continuum of more protective and less protective and less in terms of moral absolutes.

              But of course, that’s just the cultural rhetoric of the litigation industry. In natural resource culture it’s actually pretty offensive.

              • I agree with you Matthew, but I don’t think you are typical. I was looking at the 990′s for other litigating organizations and they pay their officers substantially more.

                Can you provide a few dozen specific examples, Sharon? Also, have you done a comparison with what logging industry lobbyists make? For example, how much does the ED of the Montana Wood Productions Association make? Or the ED of the Montana Logging Association? Do those entities have a financial stake, and the employees a personal financial stake, in national forest management and policies?

                If so, is that OK because “they really believe that they are doing ‘the right thing?'” What is the “right thing” anyway? Can someone’s “right thing” be someone else’s “wrong thing?”

                Sort of amazing to me how often these discussions come down to how much damn money the non-profit, low-budget enviro groups and activists supposedly make, especially in the context of the salaries of executives and lobbyists who work for resource extraction industries such as the logging industry, mining industry, oil and gas industry, etc.

                • OK, check out page 45 of this 990 from NRDC (I couldn’t extract pages, even with Adobe Professional)(2011)…

                  or perhaps more relevant to Colt Summit, this one from WELC..also 2011
                  page 7.

                  Matthew.. I don’t think it’s an appropriate analogy to compare this to the “logging industry”. You could compare it to me or others on this blog who make zero from it and take funds from our family budget and don’t even get a tax write-off because of the costs of 501c3 work. Or to the collaborators who might be doing it as part of their work. Or to the homeowner’s association staff that want a fuels reduction project.

                  I know some folks like to frame it as “good enviros vs. evil industry” but it could be framed as “colonialist large coastie enviro organizations vs. interior west local communities” or “well-paid lawyers vs. woods workers and their families.” But I prefer to frame it as “we all care and we need the best and fairest way to resolve our disputes.” Which litigation is not, based on my real-world experience.

                  Anyway, my point, Matthew, that you are underpaid, still stands.

                  • Congratulations Sharon! You have discovered that lawyers make decent money…but that’s hardly a news flash. The lawyers at WELC likely make far less lawyering for WELC than they would, say, for practicing law for DOJ or for Plum Creek, or even in private practice for that matter.

                    Also, congratulations for proving that people who sit in upper management positions for one of the largest environmental organizations in the world (NRDC, annual revenue of nearly $100 million) make very good money. Relevance?

                    When was the last time NRDC sued the Forest Service over a specific timber sale, Sharon? Isn’t that what you are trying to talk about here, the Colt Summit timber sale?

                    Do you know, Sharon, how asinine it is to bring up the compensation for the upper management of one of the largest environmental organizations in the world, with revenue over $100 million, in the context of the Colt Summit timber sale?

                    You want to talk specifically about the Colt Summit timber sale and about all the richy-rich enviros, then why don’t you talk about the lead plaintiff for the Colt Summit timber sale, Friends of the Wild Swan? FOWS is a local group of mainly volunteers who live right in the Seeley-Swan Valley and that organization had a total revenue in 2012 of $13,574. Or how about AWR’s total revenue of $109,000 for 2011?

                    This whole deal is starting to get rather tiresome and sickening. But, hey, keep at it people. I’m pretty sure others, like college professors or students, who check in on this blog read the comments and just shake their heads in disbelief at some of the crack-pot concepts being presented here.

                    • Your comment is very interesting. I said you were underpaid compared to these other folks. To which your answer was that they are underpaid compared to Plum Creek or DOJ.

                      But is Plum Creek or DOJ actually relevant in this case? Do you really think that someone is making a lot of bucks off 600 acres of commercial thinning?

                      I used WELC and thought it was relevant, because they claimed on their website that they had given their services to support FOWS and AWR on the Colt Summit project and claimed “Victory.”

                      Now suppose there was a group called “Friends of the Wild Collaboratives” who wanted to support Colt Summit. But they don’t have access to WELC or other “free” groups that donate their services. Yet FWC, our group of an equal number of equally legitimate citizens, compared to FOWS or AWR, does not have a seat at the table, because they can’t afford a lawyer.

                      That’s why WELC is relevant.

                      As to NRDC, I don’t see the relevant world of “highly paid” versus “no lawyers” simply related to timber sales.
                      I’m sure others could help, but a simple google search on NRDC forest service cases yielded this project (no, not a timber sale, but still a project)

                      PS Matthew, in my culture it’s a compliment to say you are underpaid. Just sayin’

          • American Bar Association: Model Rules of Professional Conduct

            Preamble & Scope
            “As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system.”

            Client-Lawyer Relationship – Rule 1.3 Diligence
            “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

            Advocate – Rule 3.2 Expediting Litigation
            “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.”


  1. (Sharon) “As far as I can understand it, the claims that the project would hurt lynx were not upheld, but they just didn’t analyze the cumulative impacts the way (at the scale?) the judge thought was best. (other more legally minded folks are welcome to clarify my understanding). The FS provided it, but it wasn’t in the right format.”

    Here is what the judge said: “An EA’s analysis of cumulative impacts `must give a sufficiently detailed catalogue of past, present, and future projects, and provide adequate analysis about how these projects, and differences between the projects, are thought to have impacted the environment'” (quoting from a 2010 9th Circuit case, but this is not a new requirement). …. “Here, the Forest Service did not discuss or mention any past projects or actions in its cumulative effects analysis for lynx.”

    As it’s taught in NEPA 101, if you don’t document it, you didn’t do it. I guess that could include not ‘formatting’ it right if it means the judge can’t find it; here the judge actually cites to the record for where he expected to find this analysis but didn’t. So, ignoring the possible motivation of the parties, from the judge’s perspective, the FS made a decision without required information. (And it’s at least possible that disclosing missing information could have also changed the minds of some of the project’s collaborators.)

    • Thanks so much John, I figured you would understand. I would be interested to know what the DOJ attorneys said about the cumulative effects.. so far we’ve heard only the judge’s side. It seems odd to me that a district would do a “correct” cumulative effects analysis for all the other wildlife species and an “incorrect” one for lynx.

      My format point was about the August 15, 2012 document here describing the lynx cumulative effects. Apparently, just writing it wasn’t enough, they had to do it in a different format. I still would like to hear the FS side of why they misunderstood the judge or the judge wasn’t clear, in fact, I think the taxpayer deserves to understand why the District had to write another document that says the same thing. I know enough people working in NEPA in R-1 to know that they didn’t just fall off the NEPA and Litigation turnip truck (as DeAnn Zwight would say).

      • Sharon – I think what you are referring to as ‘formatting’ is about properly following NEPA procedures to provide additional information. That’s always been less clear for EAs than EISs, but I think the rule is basically that if the information was something that should have been considered prior to making the decision, you need to redo the decision process (put it into an EA ‘format’ and get public review). In some cases, the FS has been able to simply add a document to the record, and they must have thought this was one of those cases. (I think the difference has to do with whether the information existed at the time the decision was made.)

        (Derek – I was referring to the point in time where the collaborators don’t know yet what the missing information is. It could hypothetically make a difference. As it turned out here, maybe not.)

        • it seems like this is what they did:

          The judge told them to do more cumulative effects analysis.. they went out for the public comment in this document in the August 2012 legal notice.

          The Lolo National Forest has completed a supplemental lynx analysis for the Colt Summit Restoration and Fuels Reduction Project. This supplement provides further clarification of how the project cumulatively affects lynx and lynx habitat.
          On July 11, 2012, Montana District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy, in the court case Friends of the Wild Swan, et al. v. United States Forest Service, remanded the Colt Summit project to address one deficiency in the project analysis. The court found the Forest Service had not discussed past projects or activities and that an Environmental Assessment’s analysis of cumulative impacts must give a sufficiently detailed explanation of past, present, and future projects.
          This additional analysis is now available for the public to review. The Forest Service will consider public comments before making a determination as to whether the previous decision for the project should remain valid, a revised decision is more appropriate, or there are significant impacts that would require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. If it is determined that this supplemental analysis shows no reason to modify the original decision, the original decision will be affirmed. If it is determined that the original decision should be modified, then a new decision will be made and it will be subject to a 45 day appeal period.
          In submitting comments, please provide specific facts relevant only to this supplement, along with supporting reasons you believe should be considered. Your comments may be submitted in writing, orally, or through electronic

          So they had had public comment on the EA previously (a). Then they had public comment on the extra information (b).
          So it seems like the judge wanted them to do another document that was (a + b) and get public comment on that. But the information of the (a +b) document is the same information as in the sum of the “a” document and the “b” document, only a year later. If I understand it correctly it seems a bit arbitrary (not to speak of capricious ;)). Perhaps someone more legally oriented can explain.

          • Welll, here is what the court said about what the Lolo said:

            “The document is a stand alone document that is, by the Service’s own admission, not a supplemental EA within the meaning of NEPA or the NEPA regulations.

            “Providing public comment and following some of NEPA’s other procedures doesn’t make a document a required NEPA document.

            “This decision has nothing to do with the quality or the adequacy of the Service’s lynx analysis. The Service might very well have produced a substantively useful cumulative effects analysis. But, regardless of the quality of the analysis, the Service has to follow the procedures required by law and this Court’s previous order.”

            The key I guess is that it can’t be a ‘stand alone’ document, but needs to be a revised EA. A re-do of the NEPA process requires the ability to look at the whole thing (possibly re-releasing the original EA with this as an appendix would have worked?). The judge might also have been troubled by the suggestion that the FS could ‘affirm’ the prior decision without making a new decision subject to appeal.

            • Did the judge specifically ask for a “supplemental environmental assessment”
              ? I just think It’s odd because off and DOJ would have had to agree with how the district proceeded. Is the DOJ argument for why the fs did it hat way available ?
              Seemingly ogc and DOJ, not to speak of the great nepa people in R 1, are aw
              are of the nepa regulations.

              • First off, a big thanks to Jon for (yet again) providing some much-needed legal analysis on this site.

                And, Sharon, seems to me that you are intentionally trying to confuse so much of this whole issue. We’ve been through much of this before.

                As for your question:

                Did the judge specifically ask for a “supplemental environmental assessment”

                Why yes, Sharon, the judge did specifically ask for a “supplemental environmental assessment.” In fact, we’re had posts about that before, including this one where the title is “Colt Summit Judge Dings Forest Service for Failure to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Assessment.”

                I will ask again, as I have done before, to please do a little bit of research prior to making questions in the form of allegations. In this case, a simple review of this very blog would have provided the answer. Thanks.

                • When I ask a question, it’s really a question, not an allegation. I have a good memory but I don’t remember everything.

              • In Judge Molloy’s own words: “IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this matter is REMANDED to the Forest Service so that it may prepare a supplemental environmental assessment consistent with this order and the law.”

                The term ‘supplemental environmental assessment’ is not found in the CEQ NEPA regulations. In its NEPA directives, the FS informally uses the term supplemental information report (SIR), to describe an ‘interdisciplinary review and consideration of new information,’ However, the directives also caution, “A SIR is not a NEPA document and therefore cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for a revised or supplemental EA or EIS. A SIR cannot repair deficiencies in the original environmental analysis or documentation, nor can it change a decision” (1909.15 FSH 18.1). The same directives (18.4) discuss ‘supplementing or revising’ EAs, as something different – presumably a complete environmental document. (DOJ probably understood that other agencies use the term this way.)

                I’ve found this to be a weak point in the FS directives, especially because they are written primarily to address new information after a decision is made, but don’t necessarily fit the situation when a decision has been reversed in litigation. But then there’s the 9th Circuit position established in 2000 in Idaho Sporting Congress v. Alexander (also a Forest Service timber sale case). Here’s some language from that opinion:

                “The Forest Service knew or should have known that it needed to provide this information and analysis at the time it prepared the original EAs and EISs… It is inconsistent with NEPA for an agency to use an SIR, rather than a supplemental EA or EIS, to correct this type of lapse… The record indicates that the SIRs were prepared in response to litigation… Furthermore, although the public was given an opportunity to comment on the SIRs, the Forest Service’s decision making process was not formally reopened and no administrative appeal of the SIRs was permitted.”

                On your ‘why’ questions, I could only speculate. I’m not sure how involved the attorneys are when the FS is taking steps to dissolve an injunction.

                • Thanks much, Jon! I looked at the CEQ Regs and the FS NEPA regs and searched on “supplemental EA” and didn’t find any references, so I came to the same conclusion you did.

                  My experience has been with supplemental EIS’s.. particularly one for a forest plan where industry had suddenly decided that it wanted to develop a shale play area (no swingsets there). I remember many discussions.. many, many discussions about whether it should be a separate document tailored to that change, or we should pile the whole plan EIS enchilada back and stick in the new info as part. I personally feel that if you are changing one thing and asking the public to comment it is clearer not to mish-mosh all the stuff together. After they’ve already commented on everything else.

                  So at that time (which was several years ago) and in conversations with many lawyers from 2 federal agencies, we did not have the idea that “supplemental” meant “everything has to be in it”. if everything has to be in it, don’t call it “supplemental”, call it a new EA with the required information.

                  If the judge wanted a new appeal process to go with the new info he could have just said it, as in

                  ” you did a nice job with the analysis but I think you need to run another appeal period”

                  The FS could have done that right after the court decision, because public involvement had already been done.
                  Instead, they had to write an (A +B) document, get more public comment and run an appeal period.

                  When I look up the definition of “legalistic” I found “concerned more with the letter than the spirit of the law”. The spirit of NEPA is do public involvement and do analysis. They did public involvement and they did the analysis. Whether it’s in one or two documents seems like it doesn’t really have to do with the intent of NEPA.

                  If Judge Molloy had been clearer, he might have said “I want a new comprehensive EA with that new cumulative effects analysis in one document and a new appeal period”. How hard would that have been?

                  Here is a link to the SEIS I discussed above.

                  How does the Supplement relate to the San Juan Draft Land Management Plan (Draft LMP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) that was published in Dec. 2007?
                  The Supplement is intended to be part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS). The reason for the Supplement is to disclose the new information and request public review and comment on the new information and analysis. Because the Supplement is only adding new information, it does not repeat information from the Draft EIS and is not a stand-alone document. Hence, the Supplement must be reviewed with the Draft EIS (Dec. 2007) in order to understand the full range of alternatives and plan revision issues.

                  • Your example is for a change in a decision after a decision using an EIS, whereas Colt summit was missing information before a decision using an EA. Quite different situations in all respects. I’m still not sure it would survive in the 9th Circuit, but the statement that it is NOT a stand-alone document would help.

                    I’m not sure if you intended to disparage the term ‘legalistic,’ but yes judges and lawyers are more interested in the letter of the law. Federal agencies should understand that this means they have to be the same. If this sometimes appears to produce too high of a cost, it’s only Congress that can change the letter of the law.

                    • No, would that that had been the case.. but the supplemental EIS was after the draft, before the final. Which is expected this summer!!! Hurray San Juan!
                      And of course we could use the “everything is in the final anyway” for any legal questions in that case.

                      I think you raise a good point about how high the cost is.

                      For lawyers, more is always better. And that’s fine. That’s what we pay them to do, make us safe.

                      But if we left it to them we would never use CE’s, many EA’s would be EIS’s, etc. So, as you know, line officers and NEPA folks have to make judgment calls about public funds.

                      As one of the folks in our planning shop once said “on our district, we always treated the funding as if it was coming out of the pocket of a waitress working two jobs and trying to make ends meet.”

                      I don’t think we honor enough that these folks are taking risks mindfully with a very real reward. When their judgments don’t work out, folks tell them “they should have known.” But if it weren’t for people like this, the situation would be much much worse and many tax dollars would be wasted; there wouldn’t be 38 page EA’s in Wyoming.

                      Now I don’t know if that had anything to do with this piece of Colt Summit, but I just had to say it. i

                      Now as to the Congress. As you know, Congress passes laws, and then regulations are written, and then there is case law, and then there are very specific calls by judges.

                      Given that there is no such thing as a “supplemental EA” in statute or regulation, then judges can decide things (with sideboards, I’m sure) that aren’t specifically stated by Congress and can find those things (not stated) and then decide them, as in this case. So I don’t think it’s that simple, but it is interesting to think about what Congress could do.

  2. Ohh…I think I would have to disagree with you Jon on the “It’s at least possible that disclosing missing information could have also changed the minds of some collaborators.” All they have to do is look at the map on page 199 of the absolutely, positively, last supplemental EA, which shows no “radio collar” lynx locations within the project area. To the contrary, I got a feeling the collaborators are very frustrated with this “procedural dance.” And it’s good that the Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society, and the Nature conservancy grow frustrated and weary with the dance….so much for the “finding common ground” solution.

    I do love the fact that the “tracking data” show heavy concentrations of lynx in the old Plum Creek clearcuts…where I have to think…there isn’t too many “old growth spruce/fir” stands left, but lotsa early seral. In fact, pre-commercial thinning was deliberately deleted from this project for that very reason. The reason given for the lack of lynx siting’s within the project area is most of it burned in 1900 as is in the “stem exclusion” phase and it’s just a warm-dry habitat with ponderosa and doug fir ect. It’s ironic in all this that the USFS picked this site specifically because it “didn’t” contain lynx habitat.

    Anyway, my eye’s usually glaze over tracking all this litigation…but I am finding interest in tracking in how long these projects are delayed by litigation…and recently how long it even takes for the judge to get around to haring the case. And I’ve always been interested in how much it costs us taxpayers to subsidize the enviro ego…which is one of the invisible truths hidden from us. So, here’s a quick history:
    Scoping began on 2/2010
    EA……………………………..12/2010…at 80 pages long I might add. Not bad.
    1st litigation…………………9/2011
    1st Molloy ruling…………..7/2012….it took the court jester 10 months to get around to ruling…am I reading that right?
    supplementary analysis..8/2012…now we got 169 pages.
    2nd DN……………………….1/2013
    2nd molloy ruling………….3/2013…glad to see he got on that one.
    3rd analysis Ea(??)………??????????
    2nd litigation………………..??????????
    3rd ruling……………………..???????????

    I read an EA in Wyoming the other day that would log almost twice as many acres as this one in lynx habitat…and the EA ran to 28 pages.

    • Derek: It can’t be lynx habitat if lynx don’t live there — unless by “lynx habitat” you mean an artificial definition of potential lynx locations as conjured up by a couple of agency biologists and modelers in accordance with politicized rules and regulations. The first definition is traditional common sense and scientific reality, whereas the second definition seems to be the one everyone is operating with these days.

      A lot of legal mumbo-jumbo has been paid for in the last ten years with “official” modeling exercises that identify — and quantify! — the habitat of imaginary spotted owls and any “take” that might be done to these phony birds with actions such as going to work or doing your job. Fortunately, a judge just ruled that these political models of fake birds could not be used anymore for legal or management purposes and, also, the 1937 O&C Act was lawful and should be obeyed. Another obvious case of too little (way) too late, but at least a step in the right direction.

      • When I worked on the Bitterroot, in 2004, there was “potential lynx habitat”, on ALL land above a certain elevation. I suspect that they thought it was easier to set it all aside, rather than surveying for lynx on all that land. I do have a picture of what that looks like. I saw lots of burned trees, along with the subsequent bug trees that comes along with unsalvaged stands.


Leave a Comment