Friday, July 17, 2009

Tester drops major forest bill.

Jon Tester on Friday released his much anticipated "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act"bill at RY Timber in Townsend, Mont. The measure calls for about 667,000 acres of new Wilderness designation, as well as 100,000 acres of mandated logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests. It also designates new recreation areas for mountain biking, off-road-vehicle riding, snomobiling, etc.

I’ll have more on the bill later, including detailed reactions from around the Montana conservation community, but for now here are links to the text of the bill, the map, and below is the full video of today’s press conference. I had to break the video into three parts due to YouTube’s 10 minute video restriction.

UPDATE: Here's the audio from Tester's meeting with reporters following the announcement. Warning, the quality isn't great.


Matthew Koehler said...

Thank you for posting the video and audio of the press conference. This is an important public service and I hope the GF Tribune continues to complement your articles with video and audio like this.

If you have any doubt that this bill is really an effort by self-selected special interests groups and timber corporations to mandate industrial logging and give tens of millions in US taxpayer subsidies to Montana's timber industry (during the steepest decline in lumber consumption in US history) you need to watch the press conference and listen to the Q/A between Senator Tester and reporters. Notice how Senator Tester was asked (and pretty much entirely ignored or danced around) a bunch of important questions regarding how all this mandated logging will pay for restoration work given there's no demand for lumber.

Well, one major concern with this bill is the notion that we can use money generated from logging to pay for needed restoration work. That strategy has largely failed to pay for much restoration work even when lumber demand and prices were high. The fact that the Forest Service in MT and ID has over $100 million in "shovel ready" restoration work just waiting for funding proves this point. Much of this restoration work was actually part of these former "stewardship logging contracts." The logging got finished, but there was no money left to do much of the restoration work.

Now that there's no demand for lumber and lumber prices are low and we're in the the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression this "stewardship logging" strategy is even more bankrupt.

For example, the Beaverhead Partners have already proposed a test pilot project called the East Deerlodge Valley Project. The Forest Service analyzed the project area and found 3000 acres suitable for logging. Apparently, in a private meeting with the Forest Service, MT TU Bruce Farling and Sun Mountain Lumber's Steve Flynn objected to "only" 3000 acres of logging and instead have proposed 10,000 acres for logging. I have the actual maps the Forest Service produced. Ironically, the maps are called the Sun Mountain Lumber Additions.

Funny thing, for every acre of more logging above 3000 acres, the project actually loses more money. How such an approach pays for all that restoration work these "partners" keep touting is a real mystery.

montana maven said...

We need architects and engineers in Washington. Instead we get managers. Let's not solve a problem, let's manage it. And the answer lately seems to be "mandating" that we give tax dollars to companies whether they are in lumber or health insurance.

And can somebody 'splain to me why we can't get people back to work with WPA like projects where the government hires people directly without going through corporations who skim a lot of the money before it gets to the workers?

Anonymous said...

Let the Bait and Switch begin, consistent with TU's slick marketing ploys repackaging that which the timber industry SHOULD have been held accountable for, as a "conservation gain".

While yer at it, follow the money: corporate/foundation=>Tester/ TU et al.=> corporations.

Feedback loop complete

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. If you are an anonymous user who attempts to troll this forum with the intention of inciting divisive, nonconstructive commentary, I reserve the right to delete your comment.