Colt Summit “Friends of the Court” Brief

This Dec. 21 editorial in the Missoulian, “Make collaboration work for MT,” mentions a friend of the court brief filed last week in the Ninth Circuit by a group including The Wilderness Society, plus “two former Forest Service chiefs, three Montana counties, conservation organizations, the hunting and angling communities, timber industry officials, wildlife biologists, and Montana’s Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation and Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks” and others. The brief is here. An excerpt:

“In stark contrast to timber harvest practices of the past, the Colt Summit Project represents an entirely new and different approach to forest management. The project was developed with the input of collaborative processes that bring together diverse interests to help create forest management projects that benefit multiple goals, including the recovery of lynx and other threatened species. In keeping with this approach, the specific components of the Colt Summit project – 12 including the thinning and understory slashing and burning highlighted by the Plaintiffs – were designed in consultation with state and federal biologists who are arguably the world’s foremost experts on Canada lynx. The input of these expert biologists – whose work Plaintiffs themselves rely on throughout their own brief – is more than adequate to ensure that the project will significantly harm neither lynx nor their habitat in the short run, and will benefit both in the long run.”

See also The Wilderness Society’s press release.

The Colt Summit project has been discussed in the past in numerous threads here on NCFP, such as here.

3 thoughts on “Colt Summit “Friends of the Court” Brief”

  1. Here is a much more comprehensive link to previous Colt Summit-related discussions on this blog.

    Over the weekend I left a detailed comment on the Missoulian’s website regarding their editorial.

    It’s also worth pointing out that while the press release from the The Wilderness Society et al claims: “In stark contrast to timber harvest practices of the past, the Colt Summit Project represents an entirely new and different approach to forest management. The project was developed with the input of collaborative processes….”

    That’s simply not entirely true. This fact has been pointed out previously on this blog and in official court documents.

    The official record does not support the assertion that Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative helped create the Colt Summit Project nor that they voted to approve the project.

    The record suggests that SWCC relied solely on the documents and information provided to them by the Forest Service in their discussions, without preparing their own information or investigating the project independently.

    There is nothing in the meeting notes discussing any environmental impacts, nor is there any evidence that SWCC looked at the impact this project would have on the wildlife in the project area. In fact, the meeting notes indicate that SWCC took the Forest Service’s documentation at face value and conducted no independent study of the project whatsoever.

    There is no evidence that SWCC had any input or participated in any way in creating the Colt Summit Project. The Forest Service provided them with a project, which they took at face value. There is also no evidence that a vote was ever taken to approve this project.

    The record actually reflects a higher level of involvement from Plaintiffs than from the collaborative. Plaintiffs, who are not members of the collaborative, attended all meetings, all field trips and submitted extensive, detailed and substantive comments during the entire NEPA process. The record reflects this elevated level of involvement by Plaintiffs, but only twice does SWCC’s meeting notes men[on this project. This in and of itself is telling that SWCC did not offer any input or was not involved in this project in any meaningful way.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the official record and Forest Service Colt Summit project file proves that many of the people and organization’s filing the Friend of the Court brief actually didn’t participate in the NEPA process and submitted no official comments during the NEPA process.

    Something else worth considering is that while Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtis claims “The Colt Summit project will help reduce the threat and severity of wildfire near the community of Seeley Lake….” The Colt Summit timber sale is actually located 10 to 12 air miles from the community of Seeley Lake.

    Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the Colt Summit timber sale is located within some of the last unlogged forests in the valley. As you can clearly see in this google-earth fly-over this part of Montana includes a high concentration of previous clearcuts and logging roads.

  2. Finally an example of someone doing the right thing! I have been trying for years to get forest land managers to involve their interests in the establishment of land management goals and objectives up front instead of prescribing a treatment and than debating the tools and techniques to be used. It is only common sense! A real life example should wake others up!!!

    • I tend to think that most Forest Service projects CONSIDER the public input, as they are putting the packages together, as per NEPA. There is nothing that says they have to implement the public’s desires. If a part of the public insists that the forest only thin non-commercial trees, and do much fewer acres, paying contractors big money to do it, does that mean they should do it, throughout a Forest or a Region?


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