Round II of Streamside Setbacks Starting Soon

by jhwygirl

At least that’s how I hear it.

Round I didn’t go so well. That was due – again, “as I hear it” – to the convoluted public process: County selects certain people to sit down with a write regulations. County writes regulations. County then takes written draft regulations to public. Public feels misled about public process – after all, regulations are written and “Now you want input?” – and process goes awry.

It’s the same public process, BTW, in play with the city’s zoning rewrite. I haven’t heard of any open public meetings. Haven’t seen any advertised. (Have you?) But I know of people on a zoning rewrite committee. Again – all that is “as I hear it.”

Now – Ravalli County really has it’s public process backwards compared to Missoula. They’re holding public meetings for their county-wide zoning. It’s been going on for months. Most areas – again, “as I hear it”- are going extremely well. Darby, as a whole, is being pretty resistant. There are 7 planning areas, if I recall correctly. The planning areas are based on school districts.

Anyways – Ravalli has started these meetings with maps and outlines of the things necessary to write zoning regs and {gasp} they’re actually having the public give input as to what to put in the regs!

Then the county’s hired Clarion Associates to write said regulations – and once they’re written, the county planners will actually go back to the public with the finished product.

Neato process, right? Involve the public before you write the regulations to see what they want and then put what they want into the regulations after you’ve met with the public.

Of course – there probably are people who like to read at a 2 inch thick document of regulations and provide input after the fact.  That’s fun, right?

Me? I’m not one of them.

Are you?

  1. Jim Lang

    Two of the objections I had to the originally proposed regulations is that they did not cover logging or agricultural use. On my creek I’ve seen Plum Creek cut trees that were literally forming part of the streambank. Tell me that doesn’t have an adverse impact on water quality. And have you ever seen what cattle do in hot weather when give free run of a stream?

  2. I’ve heard of these meetings on the city zoning rewrite. I was at the June 27 meeting along with at least 150 other people. I also attended the listening session with the Historic Preservation Commission, which had 10-12 people at it. I missed the other forty or so.

    I also saw this coverage from the Missoulian:

    Zoning rewrite might happen

    Zoning rewrite happening

    Zoning consultants coming tomorrow at 9 a.m. to Plat Annexation and Zoning Committee. See it all week on MCAT. I was at that one.

    Giant Zoning meeting tonight!

    Consultants been listening to interest groups.

    Another one that seems to be a second instance on wrapping up the listening sessions, which means it probably ran in In Business as well as the daily paper.

    New West chimes in.

    Even the Independent pushed some ink the rewrite’s way, although it was in the Agenda public affairs ghetto (no link available).

    And there’s also the number of times the zoning rewrite came up during City Council campaigning, which is quite a lot.

    And there’s the handy where you can learn just about whatever there is to know.

    And you can contact Mark Landkammer ( from the Office of Planning and Grants if you are still left wanting.

    And there’s more meetings on the way when the conceptual basis for the new ordinance is presented during the first half of this year.

    Short of hosting a kegger and then locking the doors to keep people from leaving, I’m not sure how else the public could be enticed to participate.

  3. Jim- with regards to the agriculture and streamside setbacks, under state law, agriculture is exempt from having to meet zoning regs.

    As for Plum Creek cutting trees next to a stream – there are Streamside Management Zones (SMZs) identified that Plum Creek needs to observe. I’m not sure where you’d go for a violation – maybe DEQ? The Conservation District? I’m not sure how zoning would effect logging operations – I have a feeling, though, that they’d be exempt. SMZs, though, would still hold.

    Jason – it’s not like I don’t know there is a zoning rewrite going on…you’d have to live under a rock not to know that. My point is that to find out about a meeting is next to impossible….and of 10 links you provided, only 1 of those links tells me about a meeting before-the-fact. And that meeting was the kickoff meeting with tea and cookies.

    When going to the first link you provide (by going to the OPG website and scrolling just more than half-way down and looking at the small print on the right side of the page and clicking on “Missoula City Zoning & Subdivision Code Update”), and reading the first line on the page, one sees that there is an Advisory Group that is hard at work on the zoning rewrite.

    Kinda re-affirms my point that there is some sort of group of people that have been invited to sit down and help invite the regs.

    Sounds pretty exclusive to me.

    The meeting you say you went to? That one held on Wednesday mornings? That’s not exactly the best way to try and involve the public – at least in my opinion.

    But that’s just me.

    I used the words “as I hear it” because it is “as I hear it.” Numerous people have asked me about it. “Isn’t there a zoning rewrite going on?” “Are they having meetings?” “I can’t find anything on the website.” “I haven’t seen anything in the paper about any meetings.”

    The streamside setback “as I hear it” (county stuff, to be clear) was not just stuff I heard from several people (including one large parcel landowner who has a couple hundred feet of riverbank frontage. I went asking around to find out what happened. So the explanation I’m giving on that situation is a combination of gathered information….but that’s all I can really say about that.

  4. Jason Wiener

    The “tea-and-cookies” event was considerably more than some people munching crumpets. There was history as well as a good deal of small group work that yielded a swath of expression ranging from a desire for roadless neighborhoods to accusations that the city attorney needs impeaching or something to that effect. The meeting was big, well-attended and captured the whole range of feeling about zoning issues in Missoula.

    The listening sessions were really the meat of the public involvement process. Look at the list of groups engaged. And they got listened to on their own terms in small groups, far better for being heard than jockeying in front of a microphone with dozens of other people.

    It’s hard to know who might have wanted a say in the process who wasn’t given a chance and who still won’t get a chance for feedback at the early conceptual stage. I think it is imprudent to attack the process before it has even run its course, particularly when it’s hard, as I think about it, to get more people who would be involved to participate.

    But I’m open to ideas.

  5. Jim Lang

    As far as the particular incident to which I’m referring, I first learned about it when I saw a pickup truck come down the road out of the Plum Creek property, towing a trailer with huge logs in it. I knew immediately that that had cut some of the old growth cedar up the drainage.

    Sure enough, I discovered that they had cut what looked like the two biggest trees in the whole valley. One, as I said, forming part of the streambank – probably for over a thousand years – and the other within six feet of the stream.

    Well I did do some research after I posted earlier and found the state regs. Rule 5 is applicable here, and no, they did not break the letter of the law. But they certainly broke the spirit.

    Another case where I took issue with their logging practices was an almost clearcut in a wedge down a steep hillside to the bank of the creek, right on the edge of where their land borders state land. Again, this creek bottom is old growth. Big trees. They may have actually broken rule 5 on that one. But even worse than the trees they cut was the slash they left, much of which came from up on the hillside, and piled in the narrow ground next to the creek. If you were to see it you would understand what a barrier and obstacle it is to wildlife. Rule 9 covers depositing slash, and all it says is that it can’t be dumped IN the stream.

    Bottom line of what I am saying is, commercial logging or dumping of slash should be excluded, period, within 50 ft of a perennial stream. If it’s not trumped by state law, it should go into the streamside regs. Or the state law should be changed.

  6. Was it a Plum Creek truck? Plum Creek doesn’t even do it’s own cutting (as far as I know).

    What you appear to be describing doesn’t sound like commercial logging (“a pickup truck come down the road out of the Plum Creek property, towing a trailer with huge logs in it.”)

    It sounds to me as if it were trespass. People do trespass – I’m sure you know it – and trespass does include stuff like cutting more than just some firewood. I’ve heard of homes being built (not just some teenagers building a shack) and I’ve heard of logging trucks hauling multiple loads out off of any number of private, state, or federal lands.

    Look, I’m no bit defender of Plum Creek – but I admittedly see some really really crappy stuff that Stimson does and wouldn’t think twice about assuming that the activity you describe, if it took place on Stimson land, was sanctioned by Stimson – and I fully agree with your bottom line – but when you see something like that, you should call Plum Creek and/or write a letter to the editor.

    Plum Creek (unlike Stimson) is publicly owned. Their activities have impacts on their stocks (up $1.20 today) – and public outcry over SMZ violations wouldn’t help.

    You cite Rule 5 – I headed over to the state’s website to read that link. It is tied to the state’s ARM (Administrative Rules of Montana) but weirdly, there is no Title 26 there…but at the bottom of the page, it refers to the history as being with MCA Title 77, which is the Department of Natural Resource and Conservation. You might give them a call when you see stuff like that.

  7. Councilman Weiner – …. let me first say that I think the City’s website is far superior to the county’s in terms of its capability of providing information. Hell, the county only recently added the minutes from the Board of County Commissioner’s meetings on its website!

    That being said, we’ve got all kinds of meetings going on – committees like Public Art, Parking, Cable Television – Boards like the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment – other stuff like the Missoula Area Economic Development (funded by the city, has its own Board) – etc., etc., etc….We’ve also got RFP’s out, bids, etc. – and yet it’s not easy to figure out what is going on, yet alone figure out what has gone on at any one of those things I mentioned above.

    Why can’t there be one page with Legal Notices and listing of those meetings being held? Someone is (or multiple someone’s are) sending out the agendas and doing the minutes for any and all of that stuff…can’t it all be repeated on one page that is linked to from the front page?

    (I hear some overworked and underpaid – and I don’t mean that sarcastically – city employee groaning.)

    The Legal Notice thing I’ve wondered for quite a while – it’s in electronic form because it’s sent to the paper – why not put in on the website too?

    You asked……

  8. Jim Lang

    Yeah, it was Plum Creek that did it, the pickup had a Plum Creek logo on it, the land is behind a locked Plum Creek gate, they took the bigger logs out later with semi trucks. This was about 6 years ago, if I remember correctly.

    I know that Plum Creek is publicly owned; I’m a shareholder.

    Frankly, once old growth trees that took more than a thousand years are cut, I don’t think there is much point in complaining: and like I said, I don’t think these cuts violate the letter of the rule anyway. Which is why the rule needs to be changed or superseded by county streamside regs, if possible.

  9. Jim Lang

    umm, actually, thinking about it, I’m not sure about the logo, but no, we’re not talking about some random trespassers, there is a locked gate, and trespassers aren’t gonna come back with a semi

  10. I was walking USFS roads up on Pattee Canyon – behind locked gates – and I came upon a realtor (ugh!) in a bright red truck! He stopped to chat and when i asked, he nervously explained that he came in at _________ at the gate was unlocked.

    The entrance I came, locked, had been circumvented quite apparently by several vehicles. It was all recent.

    I went and locked the realtor said he came in on, on my way back down the valley.

    I’m confused, though – you said it was a pickup truck with a trailer that hauled out the old growth that he cut next to and in a stream…?? That sounded suspicious because commercial logging outfits don’t use that type of set-up.

    There’s usually an amount of prep that goes on prior to an official type of sale, no? The paint the trees, coding them for what should be cut, what shouldn’t…was there any marking and scouting activity going on before hand?

    Keep in mind, again, I’m no big defender here of Plum Creek. It’s just that I can’t imagine how any large landowner can prevent trespass stuff – whether its USFS or Plum Creek or even ranches. Shit happens.

    I remember the first time I came upon a ‘suprise’ old growth cedar forest, down on the Lochsa. I sat down in awe. Still go back there in the summer. I’ve tried to take pictures to capture it, but you just can’t put that kind of stuff on film. It doesn’t translate.

  11. Jim Lang

    For your information, Plum Creek has extensively surveyed, marked, coded, etc., all over this valley. They definitely know the precise locations of all the big old growth trees that they own.

    Look, if you were even slightly familiar with my valley, you wouldn’t be making these silly arguments to justify your completely unfounded speculation that it was a trespasser.

    I live here and I assure you that this was done by Plum Creek or their authorized agent.

    Why are you arguing with me about this? You wanna come out here and see the gate (which can’t be driven around or avoided) and the stumps? Then you will realize that your speculations have no basis in reality.

  12. You know what logging marking looks like Jim.

    You said it was a “pickup truck with a trailer” – that’s not a commercial logging operation. That’s why.

    And as for the locked gate thing? Lots of keys get out. I know – I know people with them.

  13. Jim Lang

    Whatever. I’m sure that your know more about the things I see that I do. Rather than believe the evidence of my own eyes, and my experience of observing Plum Creek logging operations multiple times in my valley over the past nine years, I will defer to your superior knowledge and wisdom.

    So no we have definitively established that you are absolutely right, based on the unshakable and unassailable principle that commercial logging operations don’t use pickup trucks.

    I’m curious jhwygirl – just what is your experience with logging? How do you think the loggers get to the worksites? do they beam in? lol

  14. You’ve said, first, that it was a pickup truck with a trailer, and then you said it was semi. So whatever to that.

    Using pickup trucks to haul out Goliath-sized old growth cedar just isnt’ something I’ve seen. Sounds pretty low-rent unsafe to me.

    And no – loggers don’t beam in – they use their transformers, a la star trek. Saves on gas.

  15. Jim Lang

    I’m sorry that it is so hard for you to get your head around the concept that when logging operations take place, a variety of vehicles and equipment are involved.

    Like I said – I FIRST became aware of this when I saw that pickup drive by. Later, I saw semi trucks used to haul out the biggest logs. Other logging equipment was also used, judging by the marks that were left behind, although I did not see this equipment directly.

    What a complete waste of time this exchange this has been.

    My point is the existing laws an regulations are not sufficient, and that commercial logging should be prohibited within 50 feet of a perennial stream. Do you agree or disagree?

  1. 1 Not a Good Moment for the Public in Public Involvement « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Round II of Streamside Setbacks Starting Soon […]

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