Tester Logging Bill Mandates 100,000 Acres of Cutting across Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai Forests
Montana Senator Jon Tester released his logging bill today, and it calls for a mandated timber harvest across 100,000 acres of forest lands over the next decade. I don’t have time to pore over the details this afternoon, but i thought that our readers would like to see what our Senator has been up to behind closed doors. I’ll post an update later with reactions to the bill.
The pdf of the bill can be downloaded for viewing, and I’d appreciate it if our readers would take a look and post their comments about the bill and its particulars to this story. Please keep your comments concise and link to extended statements elsewhere if needed.
Email release from Senator Tester’s office is below the fold.
The Missoulian just posted a map (3.5MB pdf) of the Bill’s prescriptions.
Subject: Fwd: Tester’s Forest jobs bill
From: Murphy, Aaron (Tester) [mailto:Aaron_Murphy@tester.senate.gov]
The following information and attached legislation is EMBARGOED until 1 p.m.:
The Forest Bill would provide timber and restoration jobs through large forest stewardship projects, and it would set aside areas for motorized recreation, hunting, camping and fishing through the establishment of National Recreation Areas and wilderness designation.
Because there are many components to the legislation, calling it a “wilderness bill” is a mischaracterization. It is a “forest jobs and stewardship” bill.
It is the product of the hard work of Montanans from all walks of life-hunters and anglers, loggers and conservationists-who found a solution to maintain our way of life and our legacy of managing our land wisely. The bill would impact:
* The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
* The Three Rivers District of the Kootenai National Forest
* The Seeley Lake District of the Lolo National Forest
A FEW DEFINITIONS
Forest Restoration Jobs: Jobs in forest restoration are jobs that aren’t necessarily related to timber harvest, but require similar “in the woods” work such as road improvements and road removal, harvesting biomass material, wildfire mitigation, and cleanup.
Stewardship: This is a general term that refers to the overall management of our forest lands-not just “conservation,” but also common-sense management of those lands, including responsible, light-on-the-land timber harvest and recreation.
Watershed: For our purposes, this term applies to waterways (streams and rivers), but also the sources of Montana’s waterways (snowcapped mountains, springs, alpine lakes, etc)
Watershed restoration: This is “in the woods work” to strengthen and protect Montana’s clean water, by improving water culverts, fixing roads that are slipping into streams, improving drainage along roads, etc.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
* Follows U.S. Forest Service plan for where timber harvest can occur (a base of 1.9 million acres)
* Mandates that the agency harvest an average of at least 7,000 acres per year for ten years within those boundaries, as part of a series of broader restoration projects of at least 50,000 acres (for example, where prescribed burning, road removal, improving culverts, fixing roads that are falling into streams, etc.). This provides a level of certainty to the timber industry that it does not currently have.
* Creates areas that the Forest Service must manage for recreation, including snowmobiling
* Solves the long-standing BLM Wilderness Study Area debate by following the BLM’s recommendation to create five BLM wilderness areas and release seven Wilderness Study Areas. Currently those 12 Wilderness Study Areas are not official wilderness areas but have been managed as if they are wilderness, awaiting action by congress on either designating them or not. This proposal allows the lands not designated to be opened up to other uses, such as timber harvest and recreation.
* Designates roughly 505,000 acres of wilderness on Forest Service lands
* Designates roughly 59,000 acres of wilderness on BLM land and releases about 76,000 acres on BLM land
Plan based on proposal brought to Sen. Tester by members of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership, which includes:
Sun Mountain Lumber, RY Timber, Roseburg Forest Products, Smurfit-Stone, Pyramid Lumber, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation.
* Directs timber harvest to happen only where the U.S. Forest plan allows (different than original Beaverhead-Deerlodge proposal)
* Adds designation of five BLM proposed wilderness areas and releases seven other wilderness study areas to management under the agency’s regional plan (grazing, timber harvesting, recreation).
* BIG HOLE:
* Creates a Big Hole National Recreation Area
* EAST PIONEERS:
* Designates a road into Tendoy Lake for ATV use.
* Adjusts boundaries to put trails outside wilderness boundary
* WEST PIONEERS:
* Creates Recreation Management Area
* Includes language allowing limited airplane landings for military training, and motorized access for maintenance for municipal water supply and transmission tower
* Moved trail number 313 outside wilderness boundary, keeping about 40 miles of trail open for bicyclists
* SNOWCREST WILDERNESS AREA:
* Includes language to allow continued motorized access for ranchers to water infrastructure
* LEE METCALF WILDERNESS ADDITION:
* Keeps 1.5 miles of bike trail out of wilderness area in order to keep whole a 23 mile bike trail to Ennis Lake
* THUNDERBOLD PROTECTION AREA:
* Creates area to manage for snowmobiles in winter and bicycles in summer on the south side of Electric Peak
Three Rivers District of the Kootenai National Forest:
* Follows U.S. Forest Service plan for where timber harvest can occur (exact acreage to follow)
* Mandates that the agency harvest an average of at least 3,000 acres per year for ten years as part of a series of broader restoration projects of at least 50,000 acres. This provides a level of certainty to the timber industry that it does not currently have.
* Creates Three Rivers Special Management Area, which encompasses separate motorized and non-motorized areas.
* Directs the Forest Service to conduct a study of potential ATV routes
* Designates 30,000 acres of wilderness at Roderick Mountain.
Plan based on proposal brought to Sen. Tester by members of the Three Rivers Challenge, which includes:
* Yaak Valley Forest Council; Chapel Cedar Works (Troy); Lincoln County Snow Kats; Kootenai Ridge Riders ATV Club; Wayne Hirst (longtime accountant for loggers and timber advocate in Lincoln County); Kurt Rayson, logger; Troy Snowmobile Club; Tim Linehan, Linehan Outfitters and Guides
Seeley Lake District of the Lolo National Forest:
* Follows U.S. Forest Service plan for where timber harvest can occur.
* Allows for collaborative group to guide large, landscape level forest management and restoration projects
* Put aside an area for snowmobiling use until the next revision of the Lolo Forest Plan
* Designates 87,000 acres of Wilderness as addition to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Mission Mountain Wilderness
Plan based on proposal brought to Sen. Tester by members of the Blackfoot Challenge, which includes:
* The Wilderness Society; Pyramid Lumber; Clearwater Resource Council (Stan Nicholson, president); Jack Rich of Rich Outfitters; Jim Stone, Rolling Stone Ranch; Montana Wilderness Association; Blackfoot Challenge; Bill Wall Sustainability, Inc.; Orville Daniels, retired Lolo National Supervisor supervisor
ALL THREE AREAS:
* Authorizes use of federal funds for biomass facilities that process material harvested in Montana.
* Directs Forest Service to conduct a study to determine feasibility of sustainable development of biomass supplies in areas covered by this Act.