Wilderness: the Third Rail of Montana Politics


You know, Democrats really hate people who put policy before politics. Principles before compromises. Issues before elections. Especially when you’re talking about wilderness.

Seems that criticizing policy that seeks to release lands protected by the late Senator Lee Metcalf’s Montana Wilderness Study Act and other roadless and protected areas, in exchange for the official “designation” of a few hundred thousand acres of said protected land garners folks the “ilk” moniker from Dems.

Well, I happen to like the “ilk” that i have been associated with. So thanks to the thought police for pointing that out and reminding me who my friends are, here. I’d so rather work with folks who’d rather take a principled stand on the value of wilderness, instead of trading wilderness for votes.

Fighting for, and about wilderness has become a time-honored tradition in Montana between the body politic, and those who would protect or would destroy it. Sometimes, Dem gossip columnists get the facts mixed up a bit, and come off sounding a bit down-right hostile to enviros.

Seems she (“they???”) thought it would be cute to pull one name from a list of “opposition groups” and elected officials Rehberg claims to oppose Tester’s logging bill which keeps showing up in different incarnations as rider fodder and stand-alone versions.

“The Buffalo Field Campaign? Really? If the Buffalo Field Campaign (hippie skirt-wearing white dudes with dreadlocks who cut down barbwire fences) is good enough for Rehberg’s list, then why weren’t they invited to be on his call?”

Wow, so the Dems are going to go all out and join in the right-wing hippy bashing culture war now, in its pursuit of ostracizing far-left “extremists.” And they’re going to take down a single-issue nonprofit organization as an example?

Somehow I don’t think that all of the tribal leaders who helped to co-found and lead the organization, and Native Americans who volunteer and/or work there, are going to like being called “hippie skirt-wearing white dudes with dreadlocks.” Nor are native GOTV organizations, like Honor the Earth that have worked with and support BFC, going to look kindly on Wasi’chu.

But then again, you never know. In these times of a political void in the middle (rapidly being filled by moderate, grown up, and “serious” people, i.e. democrats) of the spectrum caused by republicans being led to the far right by the tea party, maybe this is the new norm. I’d try and debate it with them, but it seems my comments have to pass muster with the hall monitor there before they can be submitted for public view, because you know, I might write something criticizing a democrat’s policies or actions, horror of horrors.

So, back to the third rail. There’s a word floating around called “Melcherization.” It’s what happens to a politician when they alienate Montanans who truly care about wilderness–you know those Montanans who believe that every acre of unprotected roadless lands deserve to be kept just as they are. Because, you know, that’s really the conservative position. To maintain the status quo. Conservative… conservation.

Politicians get “Melcherized” when they put the interests of multi-national corporations and the oligarchs (those who run those multi-nationals, and their foundation strong arm funding [bribing] mechanisms) ahead of us simpletons who like unprotected wilderness landscapes left just the way they are: managed by mother nature. Kind of like mothers’ milk–how do you improve on it, eh?

And of course, whenever the specter of “Melcherization” rears its ugly head–kind of like Sarah Palin’s rendition of Putin “rearing his head” and attacking America, my heart tis of thee–the defenders of all good things political, and politicians that support them, come running to the rescue.

God forbid we ever have a discussion of the policies surrounding the politics of wilderness legislation. No, we have to prostrate ourselves before the lesser of two evils, and keep quiet lest we be seen as minions of the right, gathered in secret collusion to destroy the one great politician who would save Montana and the country from every right wing boogie man’s evil ministrations.

The third rail of Montana politics. The rewards must be huge (and insidious) to put oneself up against tens of thousands of Montanans spanning generations who don’t believe in the necessity of having to either hard release currently roadless, though undesignated, lands in order to designate a minor portion of those lands as wilderness. Especially when you promised to not do so in order to garner their votes last time around.

Those of us who don’t believe in the quid pro quo of trading industrializing roadless lands in exchange for naming rights to a few small pockets of rocks and ice aren’t going to go away because of the “lesser of two evils” argument. We believe that mandating the release of roadless lands to the control of industrialist oligarchs is about as evil of an act as can be done. And we’ll fight it tooth and nail. As Dem politics shift towards neo-liberalism, Dem politicians can expect the din from the rabble to grow and grow.

The “Melcherization” part of it? Not our problem. That’s self-inflicted myopia of the candidate, and easily avoided.

  1. i appreciate what is at stake in 2012 by supporting jon tester for reelection. montana cannot afford any longer to have rehberg anywhere near a position of power. he is simply too stupid and worthless to trust as a united states senator.

    that being said, i cannot support tester’s so called forest jobs and recreation bill for the following reasons….

    it sets a dangerous precedent by “mandating” logging in previously protected roadless areas. whether there is an economically feasible way to do it or not. and it mandates logging regardless of whether or not it is silvaculturally or hydrologically or biologically advisable to do so.

    forests should be managed by professional people trained in forestry- not by politicians trolling for votes.

    i don’t care how much wilderness is created by such a bill. it is politically motivated and it is politically designed to garner votes- not to do what is in the best interest of the forest land it seeks to manage.

    plus, i just hate mandates for anything. especially from a perilously and deeply ignorant and willfully corrupt body such as congress or the senate.

    jon tester can have my vote in 2012. but i do not grant him the right to lay claim to my god given common sense, which tells me that the so called forest jobs and recreation bill is a poorly executed and dangerous piece of legislation which would set an expensive financially draining industry subsidization precedent resulting in endangering millions of acres of currently protected roadless areas in this country which now serve for free as reservoirs of biologically diverse, clean water producing potentially scientifically valuable assets.

    and for what? so we can produce cheap lumber in a time when there is no market for it? anyone sane recognizes this bill to be pure political hogwash.

  2. Should wilderness be created in areas that have been altered so much by human biomanipulation that the habitat would be unrecognizable to a visitor from the eighteenth century or should it be restored to near pre-settlement potential before preserving it? 150 years ago aspen commanded the Rocky Mountains; today it struggles to exist under the grazing rubric perpetuated by a Forest Service bound by USDA policies.

    Litigate. We can’t win the battle in Congress until red states are turned blue.

  3. Larry – we had a pretty good record of keeping these lands intact until Tester took office. He’s doing what Conrad could not – neutralizing the opposition, creating divisions. Electing Democrats makes no difference if they don’t fight for us, and even less when they work against us.

    Turn Red States blue? Why should I care? Give me reasons.

  4. These lands are broken.

    Get cattle off public lands, repeal the 1872 Mining Law, turn Forest Service ground over to the tribes to settle land disputes (especially the mal-named Custer National Forest), stop killing predators like wolves and cougars, stop redstaters from running roughshod over the Left. Democrats listen, Republicans rape.

  5. Democrats=safe; Republicans=cheap: water, food, shelter, sex.

  6. ladybug

    Red, blue, it doesn’t matter. Both are corporate, both are neoliberal, and neither will ever do what is necessary. Structural changes will be needed to allign with a new set of natural laws, and national laws, to avoid losing this once sustainable planet.

    All life depends on us getting it right. We cannot expect leadership from the current Congress or the President. We must take control of the situation and force new policies and new laws that empowers organized citizens. Citizen oversight. Citizen enforcement. A pox on both parties.

  7. Turner

    Ladybug lays a curse: “A pox on both parties.” I don’t know in practical sense what this means.

    Does it mean that we should stay home on election day? This, of course, would simply hand all elections to Republicans.

    Does it mean that we should start a third party or resurrect the Green Party? If we did, would there be any chance of winning?

    Some Democrats have been deeply disappointing. They need to primaried in some instances (think Max Baucus), and replaced with less corrupt candidates. But when a disappointing Democrat runs against a dangerous Republican (and all of them, in varying degrees, ARE dangerous), I’ll turn up on election day to vote for the Democrat.

    People like me are routinely called names by some of the more strident progressives. I don’t care. I know that I live in a world of the real possibilities; they live mainly in their fantasies.

    By the way, I’m a veteran of anti-war and civil rights protests in the sixties and seventies. I believe in direct action to change policies. But I see no appetite for direct action among progressives who like to trash people like me for supporting Democratic candidates.

    If progressives want to go into the streets, I’ll probably join them. Unlike Obama, who promised to put on comfortable shoes and march, I’d really do it.

    • lizard19

      if you haven’t noticed, turner, all sides can get nasty, and some here have caught quite a bit of hell for being “principled.”

      i wonder, will an anti-war civil liberty type like yourself continue supporting Obama with your vote next year? people your age with you political leanings hoped that Obama was the culmination of everything you once stood for. that hope, unfortunately, was misplaced.

      instead, he’s turned out to be a wall street coddling “good war” imperialist who is making absolutely no effort to roll back the police state.

      you see a pox on both parties as a curse, but i see it as a strategy. both parties are fractured, and i think among us younger set who aren’t as brand loyal to the red/blue color coding system like you Boomers are can create hybrid groupings.

      there is hope, but it’s somewhere outside the two-party stranglehold that resembles some new strain of fascism more than a representative democracy.

      • Turner

        First, thanks for not calling me names. But no thanks for telling me what I hoped for from Obama. That’s quite a presumption. Or maybe you didn’t mean me. After all, I’m too old to count as a Boomer.

        I agree with the areas of corruption you point out. How can an observant person not? Our disagreement is what to do about them.

        The wan hope that, in your words, “somewhere outside the two-party stranglehold” there is a solution to all this corruption is to me so vague as to be incomprehensible. It’s the kind of fantasy I referred to in my original post.

        Holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils may not be a very appealing to some. But I’m afraid it’s the only way we can inch toward a somewhat progressive future.

        Unless we’re ready to risk our lives by going into the streets (as what? Socialists bent on bringing down the evil capitalist system?) we need to do what we can within the constraints of the real world to keep the most dangerous political elements from seizing even more power.

        • lizard19

          correct, i was not meaning you specifically, but what i assumed was your demographic.

          if you’re looking for something more specific, how about an independent labor party (or service sector, since traditional labor is being gutted) with a platform constructed to make inroads with both libertarians and progressives.

          otherwise, yes, it might get to the point where more direct means must be employed. there are plenty of folks already there, left over and marginalized from the anti-globalization days.

          those folks understand more of us will eventually get there, not out of principle, but out of necessity.

          the global capitalists are not friends of the people. watch how they’re trying to dismantle Europe’s social safety net. and watch how folks are fighting back.

          • Turner

            I recently returned from England where the Uncut movement is big. I don’t know if it can lead to a viable political party.

            If we had world enough and time there might be hope for a progressive, or at least an anti-capitalist-corruption party.

            But we have 2012 to think about. If progressives don’t vote because too many Democratics are in bed with the capitalists, the Republicans will win.

            Do we really want a Senator Rehberg? Maybe, for some, this sounds like a good idea because the election of Rehberg and others like him would make things a lot worse quickly. Overt fascism might wake people up and drive them into the streets.

            But I think this is a very risky strategy. It’s not risky for me, but it’s risky for women, for minorities, and working people. And it’s risky for the environment, the original topic of this strain.

            • lizard19

              the environment is at risk because of our energy consumption. our energy consumption is the seminal concern behind the perpetuation of global war; dwindling resources. to keep the US population in line, congress keeps emergency powers going. soft war here, hot war where the oil is (and the weapons aren’t).

              the muted disgust over Obama’s march madness war against Libya is glaring now. his disregard for even a congressional rubber stamp is really phenomenal. and the bullshit about the humanitarian cause has so much stink of hypocrisy around it, it’s a wonder they (like clinton chiding China) don’t choke on their words.

              i can be practical and vote for jon, but i find it reprehensible to continue supporting Obama.

          • C’mon, liz: if you believe alternative parties have an opportunity to win elections at the school board and county commission levels, leaders need to emerge to run, produce results, then for the legislature. A Paul/Kucinich run WOULD be a blast though.

            Labor endorses Tester: http://www.mtstandard.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_62bee0e8-871a-11e0-b9c6-001cc4c002e0.html

    • Steve W

      Turner, Which strident progressives routinely call people like you what names? (what are “people like you?” Caucasians? Males? Divisive? Con artists? what do you mean by “people like you, exactly?”)

      Or is this the Democratic Party version of the “War on Christmas?”

      Where and when can I see a progressive trashing you for voting for a Democratic candidate because I’d like to get it on tape. How about some times and dates and names. Or is that too real for your reality?

      By the way, I’m a veteran of anti-war and civil rights protests in the sixties and seventies, too. I’m also a veteran of protests in the 80’s 90’s and the 2000’s. Because I believe in direct action, I never stopped.

      • Turner

        Let’s see now. I recall Tokorski (or whatever his name is) calling me a Democratic tool. Someone else called me naive, but I don’t remember who it was.

        I suspect if we sat down and chatted, we’d agree on a lot. I’m a half-hearted Democrat, but I’m truly afraid of the Republicans. Are you unafraid of them?

        • actually, the republicans are much more afraid of progressivism. because when world history is viewed as a timeline continuum, everything always trends to the progressive.

          the tea party is a passing phenomenon resulting from the bush-induced depression. it will pass. but wilderness is forever. we cannot allow our friendly politicians like tester to risk trading forever for a few votes without a fight. that is what this post is about. not hurt feelings and people strutting around saying they have the best strategy.

          my personal rule is easy. if the policy is wrong i fight it, no matter what candidate is pushing it. and i separate issues from candidates. i don’t fear republicans in the long run, but obviously montana cannot afford a senator rehberg for even the short run. like a dialogue line i once liked from NYPD………..”everything’s a situation.”

        • Steve W

          I try not to vote out of fear. I think the reason the repos won almost everything everywhere except CA in 2010 was because the national Dems were so timid and so Republican in so many policy issues, from health care to banking to the environment, to civil rights, to the economy to Social Security to Taxation to defense to criminal justice, to education. It kept a lot of people home who wanted and expected a lot more. They thought, and understandably, “What’s the point?”

          Tokarski can be rude occasionally when he thinks he’s run into a Democratic tool, but if rudeness is the measure, Rob Kailey is probably one of the most obnoxious and dis-likable bloggers in MT, Repo or Dem. or independent. Plus his writing skills are pretty weak. For my money Tokarski is a far better and more interesting writer than Rob. I generally agree with Tokarski’s political analysis, except I am far more tolerant of people who have chosen to be politically active through the Democratic party. i think there is usually a big difference between local party activists and the people who run the party on the national level.

          I also think 2 party politics is doomed because it so harshly and falsely regiments political expression. It has failed us as a country and as humans. it ‘s bad at arriving at the best solutions for the most people. So ultimately we will change or perish.

          I think Tokarski makes a valuable contribution to the argument that change from the two party regimen is needed even if he’s sometimes trigger happy. He’s been in more than one on-line ambush so he tends to shoot first and ask questions later. He’s taken a lot of flak from party flaks. And he’s created some flak with non-party flaks that he mis read as party flaks. And he may just like to insult people occasionally, i don’t know and I don ‘t know him personally.

          I usually vote for Democrats. My state Senator and my State Rep are Dems and I vote for them and they usually vote as I’d like them to. But I don’t censure my criticism of anyone’s policy because I’m loyal to their political career. I’m not loyal to anyone’s political career. That isn’t my job as a citizen.

          We already far outnumber the Republicans. And the non-voters far outnumber the Repos and the Dems combined. Then we call it representative democracy?

          It’s the two party system that’s keeping us from getting what we need. The people who don’t vote don’t vote because they have reached the decision that it’s fixed. That’s what the majority believes.

          We should be discussing why most people believe this.

          I’m positive that if we were chatting in person that we would probably agree on most things that we find important.

  8. ladybug

    One man’s fantasy is another man’s dream. Young people, thank God, dream big, and think outside the box. Forward. Further. My hat is off to them. What right do older cynics have to try to beat that out of them? This age-old folly never succeeds.

    The odor of death emanates from the two parties. With death comes decomposition and renewal. Young people have good noses and will do what needs to be done when the time is right. Timing is everything.

  9. mick

    I would like to vote FOR a “principled” candidate. Is the fool, really more dangerous the liar? I was fooled by a liar, lier,in the last election…..and I don’t even use ATMs.

  10. Ingemar Johansson

    Funny, no mention ’bout wilderness in American’s biggest problems.


    • wilderness is not a problem swede. it is an asset. why would anyone have a problem with an asset?

      • Ingemar Johansson

        The question should be why do you guys have problems with wilderness?

        In fact JC’s third rail should read, Bitching about Wilderness.

        Followed by #2, Pretending We’re Property Rights Advocates.

        And #3, Trashing Dennis.

  11. Turner

    There’s a lot anger here against Barack Obama. I was wondering, in my Sunday afternoon rambling style, which specific decisions of his have made you especially angry.

    For example, faced with the situation in Libya, where Gahdafi was threatening to go house to house in rebel cities and murder everyone he found there, was Obama wrong to intervene militarily (then to step aside and let NATO forces continue the effort)?

    Given the chance to execute Osama bin Ladin in Pakistan, was he wrong to do it?

    Faced with the crisis in the auto industry, was he wrong to bail out Chrysler and GM and return them to profitability so that they are now rehiring workers? .

    Was he wrong to get repeal of DADT through the congress?

    In the new health insurance law, was he wrong to settle for anything less than a single-payer plan? (Remember, he didn’t have a veto-proof majority at the time and even some people in his own party were against it.)

    Faced with the alternative of either allowing tax-cut extensions for the wealthy or not extending unemployment benefits for the poor, should he have stood his ground and let the unemployment benefits die at the hands of congressional Republicans?

    Was he wrong to promise to start bringing troops out of Afghanistan this summer? Do you think he’s lying and doesn’t plan to do this?

    Was he wrong to support renewing the Patriot Act? If he’d come out against it, could he have prevailed?

    Was he wrong not to close Gitmo and relocate prisoners to our country? Could he have overcome the tremendous NIMBY movement in our country? Remember, Baucus and Tester both talked about how they wouldn’t take “terrorists” in Montana.

    Has he been wrong to order drone missions in Pakistan?

    Has he been aggressive enough in stopping the use of torture by various US agencies? Or has he already done this? (There seem to be two sets of facts about this.)

    As my questions imply, I think some of the criticisms of Obama have been unfair. At the same time, some things he’s done or not done bother me. The drone missions, for example. And allowing torture, if it’s still happening. And if I knew more about economics, his relationship with Big Business would probably bother me, too.

    I think Obama is doing a better-than-adequate job in his first term, considering that he’s had to deal with very powerful economic and political groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and the military-industrial complex. If the Democrats take over the House in 2012, I suspect he’ll be able to do a better job in his second term, when he doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected. In his second term, I’d like to see him stand up to the military and get us out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq entirely, not just partially.

    And I’d like to see him defy our senators and send all the Gitmo prisoners to Montana for speedy trials and possible incarceration.

    • “In the new health insurance law, was he wrong to settle for anything less than a single-payer plan? (Remember, he didn’t have a veto-proof majority at the time and even some people in his own party were against it.”
      mr. turner:
      your simple sentence hardly touches upon the mishandling of this issue by obama.

      the key mistake in health care reform (not) for obama was in trusting baucus to run the show for him. and since jim messina was the chief of staff for baucus before being selected as obama’s asst white house chief of staff, there was an obvious bias for baucus and his corrupt penchant to please the health insurance industry.

      the majority of americans feel that this was a corrupt process beginning with leaving single payer advocates no seat at the table leaving the doctors and nurses who supported it no choice but to shout their questions and get arrested for their trouble.

      i will most probably vote for obama too. but i will never let you whitewash the stinking job that baucus, messina and obama did with health care. they allowed the health insurers to write the entire bill. thus, alienating everyone who does not trust health insurers. i believe this to be approximately 70% of americans based on the polls at the time showing support for a public option to using private health insurers.

      the frustration for me in this issue is twofold: by folding to the insurers, baucus, messina and obama wasted all the energy going into the election, which was to give us change from the obviously failed policies of the bush admininstration. it not only left us with little or no real health care reform in this country; it robbed us progressives of momentum and further alienated vast numbers of americans who were barely leaning progressive because they were sick and tired of bush.

      so the result is a cynical process which alienates rather than invites participation.
      it all started with the mishandling of health care reform. like it or not we face a tough race in 2012 mostly because of these three idiots – baucus, messina and obama.

      now the question is can the republicans anger enough americans to offset this cynical voting attitude of “why should i vote? they are all the same.” attitude?

      the good news is thankfully, by attacking women, gays, the poor, seniors (medicare and social security) we do stand a pretty good chance of defeating them and reelecting obama. but i am not happy about the idiotic way this term started and i sure hope if we can do it again, that idiotic moves like the failure of health care reform are not dupicated. one good move i would suggest is to remove jim messina from his post as the head of the reelection campaign. his connections to baucus are a definite liability.

      • Turner

        I’m aware, Bear, of all the nefarious forces you refer to.

        I’m not sure how any person, no matter how progressive his instincts are, can single-handedly as president move an agenda that isn’t a partial compromise with the corrupt moneyed interests, which have pretty much bought the congress.

        That’s what happened with health insurance reform. The new law is as weak as gruel because Obama had to make a deal with sell-outs like Baucus or get nothing at all.

        That’s why I consider Obama a qualified success. He’s gotten quite a few half-a-loafs when a less committed Democrat might’ve gotten nothing.

        Real progressive reform can occur only when we weed out the Blue Dog Democrats. All of the Republicans are openly on the side of the corporations against the people. Some Dems are openly on the side of the people against the corporations. Too many Dems are secretly on the side of the corporations while pretending not to be.

        Until the situation changes, I think we just have to tred water.

  12. problembear you are just too funny –

    Is there anybody here, who though for a minute that you wouldn’t blindly support Tester, no matter how big a buffoon he is ?

  13. ladybug

    Eric and PB,

    What is more important, who they are, or their capacity to do real irreparable harm?
    Tester has demonstrated he’s surprisingly ambitious, and disappointingly tone deaf to the unique, enduring value of Montana’s natural ecosystems. Listening to a spectrum of ideas and making bad calls is one thing. Instead, he seems to have a real knack for tuning out everything that doesn’t poll well. Pig-headed poll-chaser might sound too strong, but it’s a shoe that’s beginning to fit better as the campaign stress grows. For some I have talked to, the dynastic drunk is less scary, and a bit more predictable. Which is the lesser evil?

    • Blue states are the lesser evil. The Army Corps of Engineers operation of the Missouri River system is a product of red state collapse:

    • if denny should by some miracle be elected as the 51st republican vote in the senate in 2012, we will quickly find ou how much damage he can do by simply following orders from the GOP leadership. women’s rights will be set back 50 years. veterans, seniors and the poor will be thrown out into the streets. you can kiss goodbye to any LGBT safety or rights in this country and you can forget about any more protection for roadless lands or any reason at all being used to control environmental damage in this nation.

      that is a gamble i find the odds a little too steep to take.
      jon tester has proven a little too adept at courting finance lobbyists to support whole-heartedly, but rehberg would be dangerous in a swing vote senate. i agree denny lacks the smarts to start much trouble on his own, but if the votes are close in the senate, his weasel spined willingness to vote any way the GOP tells him to will make you long for the comfort of that old shoe of tester’s.

  14. I’ve thought about this post for the past day or so and have tried to formulate a reasonable response. I’m not sure I can muster one, though. I’m so frustrated by this non-stop infighting and the name calling that accompanies it. If it makes you better to imagine that I (for one) am some sort of moderate, practically right wing tool of the Democratic party, so be it, but that just shows how shallow this “debate” has become.

    As to the substance of the post, it’s certainly an interesting position to take to argue that “every acre of unprotected roadless lands deserve to be kept just as they are.” That’s certainly got to be comforting to the men and women who struggle to make a living, who believe in recreating in those areas, and who believe that there is a balanced position between no use and total use.

    I respect your passion, but there is almost no political or public support for the position you are taking. It’s a non-starter. To excoriate Senator Tester for failing to champion something a) he never said he would and b) something that is not supported by anything more than a small fraction of Montanans is absurd.

    It’s not a matter of the lesser of two evils; it’s a clear choice between supporting someone far more sympathetic to progressive issues who will actually legislate on behalf of Montanans or supporting someone who, if his party gains power in the Senate, will move to gut the Endangered Species Act and put permanent roads in untouched wilderness all over the state while he’s simultaneously voting to destroy the economic rights of poor and middle class workers.

    But hey, at least you’ll have your principles, right?

    • JC

      ” To excoriate Senator Tester for failing to champion something a) he never said he would and b) something that is not supported by anything more than a small fraction of Montanans is absurd.”

      If you think I’m excoriating him, then you’ve missed the whole point of the post. When a politician steps on the third rail of something, it means he is stepping into a very precarious position–not because I say so, but because: 1) history has shown this to be true (“Melcherization”) and 2) as Matthew points out, protecting roadless lands enjoys a broad swath of support (contrary to your opinion) across Montana.

      You’re just shooting the messenger here. Which, beings as you are looking at this issue through a political lens is understandable. I’m just trying to get you guys to see the issue from a different perspective.

      Anytime I debate this issue with someone who looks at roadless lands or wilderness as areas of “no use” and the political solution to be a balance between that and “total use” i know that us wilderness advocates have a lot of work to do educating people about the history and values of wilderness, and the necessity of protecting roadless areas. It’s why I write stuff like this, because the responses are very illustrative about what segments of the populace are thinking.

      I also know that arguments like Pogie’s will do nothing to quell the unrest that Tester has stirred up among 10’s of thousands of Montanans with his position on the FJRA and wolf rider. As I wrote, “Melcherization” is self inflicted by 1) not understanding the deep-seated and broad support that wilderness and species diversity has in Montana; and 2) thinking that a politician (and his outspoken supporters) can buck those misunderstandings by ostracizing the positions of those who hold them.

      If Jon Tester fails to reach out and mend his rift with those Montanans who hold the principle of wilderness protection and species diversity above politics, he’ll only have himself to blame when their once strong support turns into tepid indifference towards his candidacy (as it is doing). It’s not about me, or what I write–I’m just putting out there what I’ve observed over three decades of wilderness advocacy.

    • Steve W


      If you are so frustrated by the infighting then why do you repeatedly propagate it?

      You make an error in assumption when you state that …”but there is almost no political or public support for the position you are taking. It’s a non-starter.”

      I say let Jon Tester hold Statewide public hearings on his mandated cut bill. If people like it so much, it should be a wonderful campaign enhancement!

      My assumption is that the junior Senator might be as surprised as Baucus was when he held statewide hearings on his health care bill in 2009.

      My assumption is that Tester won’t hold statewide public hearings on his bill because he would like to avoid a public ass kicking on the environment like Baucus took all over the state at the hands of thousands of single payer supporters.

      Many of us are the same people, you know.

      On the other hand, if your assumption is correct and most everyone loves this bill wouldn’t holding hearings around the state be a great way to highlight that?

  15. Matthew Koehler

    I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but some of Pogie’s words demonstrate that he doesn’t have a very deep understanding of the issues and/or policies concerning the protection our remaining national forest roadless wildlands. To be honest, that’s been one of the nagging, persistent problems with this whole debate, whether it’s about mandated logging, protecting wilderness, releasing Wilderness Study Areas, mandating or the wolf rider. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and many assumptions that well-intentioned people in the left-leaning blogging world have just aren’t correct. Sorry, but it’s true.

    For example, when JC stated, “every acre of unprotected roadless lands deserve to be kept just as they are” he’s actually expressing a sentiment that’s widely popular and supported throughout the country, including Montana.

    When Pogie stated in response, “That’s certainly got to be comforting to the men and women who struggle to make a living, who believe in recreating in those areas, and who believe that there is a balanced position between no use and total use. I respect your passion, but there is almost no political or public support for the position you are taking. It’s a non-starter,” Pogie demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what roadless, or even Wilderness, protection is all about, much less what the actual policy implications mean.

    While doing this, Pogie also just tosses out what basically amounts to GOP talking points about roadless and Wilderness protection, spreading the false notion that protecting the land equates to locking people out or taking away jobs. Thanks a lot.

    The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was developed during the final term of the Clinton Administration. It offers protections to nearly 60 million acres of our nation’s last wild forests and lands, including 6 million acres in Montana. The Forest Service and Clinton Administration developed the rule following years of scientific evidence, hundreds of public meetings across the country (including dozens in Montana) and over 1.6 million public comments. To date the Forest Service has received more than four million comments on the rule, with 95% in favor.

    Of the 17,429 Montanans who offering official comments on the 2001 roadless rule, 78% were in favor keeping our unprotected roadless lands just the way they are. Polls also show that over 75% of Montanans feel it is common sense to keep the roadless backcountry the way it has always been. Yet Pogie would have us believe that “there is almost no political or public support for the position you are taking. It’s a non-starter.” Wrong.

    While Pogie gives the impression that protecting roadless lands prevents people from recreation in those areas, the fact of the matter is that the roadless rule maintains current public access and recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, bird watching, morel and horn hunting, etc. The roadless protection rule also didn’t deal with ATV use, motorized recreation or even snowmobile use in these roadless areas.

    I obviously don’t support Rehberg for Senate, but when Pogie states, “if his party gains power in the Senate, will move to gut the Endangered Species Act and put permanent roads in untouched wilderness all over the state” it’s almost as if he doesn’t understand or remember much of the recent history on these matters. If Pogie and others are now so concerned about the GOP taking power and gutting the ESA or Wilderness protections I must ask “where have you guys been over the past twenty years?”

    This is not a new threat. One of the major planks of Newt’s “Contract On America” in 1994 was gutting the ESA, NEPA, NFMA, Clean Water Act, etc. Did it succeed? No. Why? Because of dedicated citizens, activists and organizations working their tails off in the field and in DC.

    Or how about more recently, during the Triple R we faced following Bush’s 2nd election in 2004. The House and Senate were both in control of the GOP and we had Pombo in charge of the House Resources Committee, with his number one goal being the gutting of the ESA. Did it succeed. No. Why? See above.

    Where was Pogie during these ESA, anti-environmental fights? Where was Cowgirl and Matt Singer? Were you guys in the trenches fighting this battle? If yes, great…and thanks!

    If not, then can you please see and understand how your preaching (filled with many false statements and misunderstandings of policy) to those who actually were engaged in these battles comes across?

    And hey, wasn’t it Senator Tester who pulled one of the biggest potential “guttings” of the Endangered Species Act with his wolf rider attached to the budget bill? Time will certainly tell us just how bad of a precedent this will be for the ESA and species and habitat protection in America. Thanks.

  16. Matthew Koehler

    One other item….

    Below are some snips from a recent article about “The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act (S.1087)” introduced by Western Republican senators a few days ago. I’d link to the article, but it’s by subscription only. It was written by Phil Taylor, an E & E reporter on 5/27/11.


    “Western Republican senators yesterday unveiled a pair of controversial bills to release millions of acres of public lands into multiple use….A bill introduced yesterday by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) would remove wilderness protections from 43 million acres of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands while lifting a secretarial order to inventory and protect roadless lands in the West. “The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act,” S. 1087, mirrors a proposal introduced in April by Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California, Rob Bishop of Utah and Steve Pearce of New Mexico. The bill targets more than half of the 12 million acres of wilderness study areas (WSAs) that the Bureau of Land Management has identified but has not yet recommended for wilderness designations, according to the bill’s sponsors…….The bill enjoys strong support from off-highway vehicle users who argue that BLM wilderness study areas should have been settled years ago instead of continuing to bar access to motorized and industrial use. “Three decades ago, the federal land agencies decided to determine what land was wilderness and what land wasn’t wilderness,” Barrasso said in a statement. “It is well past time to end the cycle of indefinite wilderness review and allow for local land use planning to work.””


    Notice that one of the main focuses of the GOP senators bill is the release of BLM Wilderness Study Areas.

    Well, that’s also one of the focuses of Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. According to Senator Tester’s website, his bill, “Solves the long-standing BLM Wilderness Study Area debate.”

    One way Senator Tester accomplishes this task is to release the following Wilderness Study Areas protected in the late 1970s by Montana Senator Lee Metcalf.

    These are the WSA’s released from protection in Tester’s FJRA: the Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area, Bell/Limekiln Canyons Wilderness Study Area, East Fork Blacktail/Blacktail Mountains Wilderness Study Area, Farlin Creek Wilderness Study Area, Henneberry Ridge Wilderness Study Area, Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, Ruby Mountains Wilderness Study Area, and Hidden Pasture Wilderness Study Area.”

    Hopefully mentioning some of these facts isn’t construed as a “personal attack on Senator Tester” by some folks. It’s funny (and sad) that we’ve gotten to a point where simply mentioning Senator Tester’s name and some concerns with some of his actual policy positions equates to a “personal attack” in some people’s mind. Hopefully we could actually have an informed, adult discussion and debate about these issues instead of just hearing about the November 2012 election. I’m pretty sure all of these public policy issues are much, much important in the long run of our country than the results of one single senate race. Thanks.

  17. My apologies. I won’t intrude on your deep insights again.

    No more roads anywhere–that’s pretty sophisticated and nuanced thinking that I can’t quite grasp.

    You are in the minority. A tiny, insignificant minority. Whether you are right or wrong, the majority of Montanans do not support your position on wolves or forests. That you spend all of your time attacking a moderate Senator for not embracing your radical (not a pejorative term in my mind) position is your business.

    I’m done engaging with, reading it, thinking about it. I’m going to spend my energy encouraging Senator Tester to take more progressive positions and criticizing those who really endanger the progressive agenda.

    If you believe that your approach is really working, either to change Senator Tester’s mind or to increase public support, good luck with your quixotic quest.

    • JC

      I’m not sure if you are responding to me or not, but I’ll take this on.

      Neither Matthew or I have ever advocated “no more roads anywhere.” We do advocate keeping roadless lands and Wilderness Study Areas as they are. There’s plenty of places to build more roads. And we do advocate restoration and road removal where appropriate. But that’s a topic for another day. Suffice it to say that NREPA contains provisions for restoration and road removal. In that sense it is a jobs bill–jobs that don’t rely on having to build roads or log timber.

      And we may be in the minority, but “tiny, insignificant minority?” No, I don’ t agree with that. And attempting to marginalize our position by labeling it “insignificant” is part of what “Melcherization” is all about. You’re proving my point.

      And as to the “majority of Montanans” and what they think about federal public land management, or federal species issues, it really isn’t the most important thing here. These are federal lands, and they belong to all Americans. Roadless areas and species habitat know no boundaries, though some may wish it were otherwise.

      And actually, I spend very little time “attacking a moderate Senator.” Though I do believe that the issues I have criticized are not “moderate” positions. I find it more radical to want to destroy the character of potential wilderness, than it is to advocate that the status quo be maintained. And I really don’t understand how a status quo position on this can be radical, though I don’t mind the label.

      As to quixotic quests: “encouraging Senator Tester to take more progressive positions” come quickly to mind.

      Good luck with that. Seriously. We tried that, and know where it got us.

      Increasing public support? Matthew outlined much of the public support that has been garnered by work like his and mine. I would offer that the 20+ years I’ve spent directly on issues like NREPA have helped to take it from a pipe dream to an actual piece of legislation with hearings and at last count, over 100 Congressional cosponsors in the 111th Congress. You might want to read what Carolyn Maloney had to say about it during its last hearing. And I sure haven’t seen any sort of support on the national like this for either Testers wolf rider or his Logging Bill.

      Anyways, Pogie, I didn’t expect that you’d want to engage in this, as most people just take it as an attack on Jon. But what it really is just another step in the long trek to seeing a vision come true–or at least to guide a truly progressive vision for public land management.

      • Matthew Koehler

        Federal judge reinstates roadless rule in Tongass forest
        AP, 5/25/11



        A federal judge has sided with the village of Kake and reinstated the Clinton-era roadless rule in southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest.

        “The roadless rule strikes the right balance for our community and will help us move forward. It protects our traditional uses while allowing new access to inexpensive, reliable hydropower,” Mike Jackson with the Organized Village of Kake, the tribal government for Kake, said in a prepared statement.

        “The remaining intact forests around Kake are essential sources of food, medicine, clothing and traditional items for artistic and spiritual use,” he said.

  18. Did someone above say that he voted Democratic because Republicans scared him so much? Isn’t that the idea? Republicans are mostly reasonable people who have sound ideas, but are forced to answer to talk radio and the like, and so have to quack. True, the TP types are really stupid, but are a short-term phenomenon.

    By the way, saying they have sound ideas does not mean I support those ideas, but only that it’s a different way of seeing the world, and I could be wrong too.

    Anyway, back on message – you should not let fear govern your vote. If you do, you’re being a tool. And niave. Did I say that?

    Pogie – that is your dumbest comment ever. I mean that sincerely

  19. Matthew Koehler

    As if on que…Today’s Missoula Indy includes this feature story:

    Like an oak:
    The stubborn Brandborgs and the fight for wilderness
    by Jessica Mayrer


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