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Ranching and Agriculture
Open range another of ranchers' subsidies

Subject: Ranchers say end of open-range law could mean last of cowboys.
Date: Thursday, Jan. 18
From: Larry Campbell
Darby, Mont.

The recent article regarding ranchers in Montana lamenting the erosion of their 'open range' benefits shines a welcome spotlight on a great inconsistency. The self-reliant independence of the mythological cowboy is a cultural fairy tale of interesting proportions. Open range is just one of their time-honored subsidies, immunities from responsibility, and dependency on involuntary contributions from others.

I have had to spend a great deal of time sweat and money working for neighbor ranchers for no pay and no thanks. In order to help their livlihood proceed without damaging my drinking water, fruit trees, food supply and the public creek and fish I have worked long and hard at fencing their cows out. It doesn't always work. I have suffered much property damage from cows owned by private property zealots who proudly proclaim their self-reliant independence.

I can't think of any other similar immunity from liability. If a person's activities or domestic animal causes harm to another, that person is held liable in every other circumstance.

I have a beef with this state-sanctioned bovine extortion. It's not right, and it is unAmerican. My private property deserves protection and I deserve compensation for damage and taking.


Local property taxes don't subsidize agriculture

Subject: Idaho ranchers irate over spiraling land values.
Date: Monday, July 10, 2000
From: Mark Haggerty,
Greater Yellowstone Coalition

George Wuerthner's recent letter to Headwaters misses the point on agricultural taxes in Sun Valley, Idaho. The plight of agriculture in the interior West is of concern for all who value the open space that farms and ranches provide, and the cultural heritage they represent. Local property taxes can be a significant barrier to economic viability, in addition to the many other pressures on agriculture in the West.

While subsidies to the industry are numerous, and often questionable as Wuerthner argues, local property tax valuation is not a subsidy. Farmers and ranchers pay residential taxes on their homes like the rest of us, whether we are teachers, business owners, conservationists (like myself), or retirees. Their land, however, often is taxed at its value for agricultural production, not its development potential. This does not represent a subsidy, because agricultural land does not demand the same services residential or commercial properties require -- services such as education, roads, fire and police protection, and health and social
services. Every ranch that is cut up for yet more housing increases demands on local governments; however, development fails to cover the full costs of this growth.

In Montana, three Cost of Community Services studies showed that agricultural land actually pays more than its fair share of local taxes.

In Gallatin County, for every dollar in tax revenue raised, local governments only spend 25 cents providing services. On the other hand, residential property demands $1.45 in services for every dollar owners provide in tax and other revenue sources. The subsidy, in the case of local government services, goes to residents, not cows.

Idaho needs to recognize these facts, and implement an agricultural tax reduction to protect farmers and ranchers from spiraling property taxes based on increasing land values. The real problem is created by land speculation which takes advantage of the agricultural tax valuation to hold land for future subdivision. In this case, Wuerthner is correct. We need to allow those farmers and ranchers who wish to keep their land in production the opportunity to do so, but also hedge against land speculation and subdivision -- the biggest threat to agriculture in the West.

California has made a step in the right direction . In order for landowners to take advantage of agricultural valuation, they must provide assurances that they will not remove their land from production in the near future. The assurance is in the form of back-taxes paid (the difference between the agricultural value of the land and its development value) when the land is subsequently subdivided. As Wuerthner points out, easements are another option to landowners seeking to avoid high taxes on their productive land by lowering the development potential of property.

I agree with Wuerthner that if landowners are hoping to sell out, they must pay their fair share of taxes. However, local tax breaks for agriculture do not represent a subsidy, and can be critical to keeping farms and ranches viable.


Low land taxes are another subsidy for agriculture

Subject: Idaho ranchers irate over spiraling land values.
Date: Friday, July 7, 2000
From: George Wuerthner
Eugene, Ore.

The recent article in the Spokesman-Review about the complains of ranchers near Sun Valley who are seeing their property taxes rise highlights yet another subsidy that ranchers in the West enjoy -- low ag land taxes. Most property taxes are assessed on the market value of the property, but not so with ag land. Most states tax ag lands at special rates -- in many places even far lower than the federal government pays on its lands as payments in lieu of taxes. I own a small lot and modest house in Livingston, Mont., and pay twice as much in property taxes than a friend who owns a ranch down valley worth $10 million dollars. The situation is similar for most ranchers in the county.

Low ag taxes means everyone else must pay higher taxes to provide for government services. Yet ranchers realize a huge windfall profit when and if they finally sell their lands -- especially in places where land values have risen due to their potential for development.

Ag supporters argue that if ranchers are forced to pay a fair tax rate, they would have to sell their property. But there are other options. Placing ranchland in conservation easements, forever removing the option of subdivision, not only reduces its value, and hence taxes, but preserves open space. Tax laws could be an incentive to encourage land preservation by taxing all ag lands at true market value but substantially reducing the property taxes for landowners who choose to put their lands in conservation easements.

This would have several positive effects. A rancher who truly wanted to keep their property intact would be rewarded with lower taxes, and in exchange, the public would get a legal guarantee that open space would be preserved. Furthermore, a rancher could choose to place any amount of land in a conservation easement -- and still retain some land for sale as subdivisions, if they choose -- but they would have to pay the taxes that all the rest of us have to pay to hold on to such lands.

Ranchers always whine that they have no choices but to subdivide their land, and they use this as a club to curry all kinds of favors from the rest of us, including exemption from environmental review for things such as water pollution, and maintenance of low property taxes. But ranchers do have a
choice, and it's time to call their bluff. If they want to keep property taxes low, they can place their land in a conservation easement. If they are hoping to sell out eventually -- then they should pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us..


Environment benefits from less farmland

Subject: Montana agriculture on the skids.
Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2000
From: George Wuerthner
Eugene, Oregon

Environmentalists and conservatives should both be cheering about the decline in farmers and farmland acreage in Montana. Nothing destroys the landscape more than farming. It is responsible for more endangered species than any other human activity. It's number one source of soil erosion. Number one cause of weed invasion. Number one source of habitat fragmentation. Number one source of non-point water pollution. And no industry gets more government welfare than agriculture. The less Montana land farmed, the better.

The decline in Montana farming is a reflection of the basic unsuitability of Montana for farming. More than half of Montana's farmland is considered highly erodible. It should have never been broken by the plow in the first place. It's basically too dry to farm much of the state. And agricultural production in Montana means lower prices for farmers in other regions of the country far more suitable for agriculture, creating hardship for everyone in the industry.

The only way that Montana's farmers have survived at all is due to government agricultural welfare. In some years more than half of the net income farmers "earn" comes from government welfare checks. In the past ten years alone, Montana's welfare farmers have taken in more than 3 billion dollars in direct subsidies, not to mention the numerous other indirect subsidies like low land taxes, tax supported agricultural extension agents, CRP payments, and other goodies farmers and ranchers get from the public trough. Had we redirected even a fraction of this vast amount of money towards land acquisition, we could have taken many of tens of millions of acres out of production and put them in public hands. No more begging these welfare queens for permission to hunt or fish on "their" lands -- we would own this land outright.

Indeed, taxpayers have already bought the vast majority of Montana's agricultural lands ten times over. We just don't hold the deed because of the nation's welfare farm policies.

If more people realized where their food comes from they would not shed a single tear for another farm crisis. We grow all the vegetables in this country on less than 2 million acres of land. We have 80 million acres in feeder corn. All the fruits and nuts are grown on less than 5 million acres of land, and we have 70 million acres going in soybeans fed to livestock.

You get the picture.

We could afford to see 75%-80% of the farmland retired in this country and still feed the nation quite well if weren't using most of our farmland to feed livestock. Not to mention that there are tremendous opportunities for Americans to grow their own foods converting even a small amount of the typical American suburban lawn into food production would result in food far healthier and fresher than depending upon America's intensive, chemically intensive farm production.

The rural West provides clean air, clean water and mental health

Subject:Why we need the rural West
Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2000
From: Rebecca S. Toupal
Student of Renewable Natural Resources & Applied Anthropology
Tucson, Arizona

Unfortunately, Mr. Rothman's perception of the rural west is incredibly narrow and poorly informed. I can only hope he is never in a position of power to achieve the ends he proposes.

Just why do we need the rural West? From a biological standpoint, the variety of environments and habitats continue to serve important ecological functions that, surprisingly to many, operate best under sound extractive uses. While various efforts continue to search for ways to justify natural resource preservation and uses with economic values, the real value of the biological west lies in what it may afford many future generations in terms of clean air, clean water, biodiversity (plants, animals, and microbes), erosion control, and mental health. Yes, mental health. From landscape architects and scientists to residents of the land, people have recognized that open space and healthy natural environments afford necessary respite from the stresses of our lives, particular for those who live in more populated areas.

But Mr. Rothman's argument is most unsound from a hydrologic standpoint. To dewater the rural west is to dry up the headwaters that supply the rest of the country. If all the water is diverted to lowland and coastal cities, the vegetation of the rural West will disappear, the wildlife will disappear, and the soil will erode. I suppose Mr. Rothman would respond that we could simply concrete everything to control the erosion but even the Bureau of Reclamation recognizes the folly, i.e. flood problems of too much concrete in a hydrologic system.

From a socio-cultural standpoint, we need the rural west in order to preserve our cultural diversity -- from Native American cultures to ranching and recreation. These interests, among others, are responsible for our western landscapes that many of us, thankfully, still value as much as life itself. Our land managing agencies are mandated as well to protect, preserve, and in some cases restore cultural features and landscapes. Why? Because the general public has convinced the various congresses over the years that cultures and people have value that should be protected rather than continually usurped for one dominant power. And landscapes are the products of cultures and people who have developed sustainable interactions with those natural environments. And the rural west is full of such landscapes.

I find it sad that Mr. Rothman perceives the people of the rural west to be arrogant, foolhardy, and without any redeeming or economic value. I find it ironic too that while he criticizes rural westerns as having nothing to teach the "rest of us," he offers little in the way of public education. From his arguments, I'm led to believe that the only things of importance are water and cities and that the loss of the rural west only means the loss of a myth. Is this not an arrogant, foolhardy message with little if any redeeming value? And one that has the potential, if implemented, to destroy all the biological and cultural diversity that this country is built upon and that we, as a general
public, continue to fight for?

I find it sad too that Mr. Rothman can propose such a rude, patronizing, and insensitive solution even though he qualifies it as "only half-kidding." Ranchers and farmers are not the enemy, nor are they the only residents and users of the rural West, nor are they the only ones who value the rural West as it stands today. His suggestion is
hegemonious at best and to tolerate or support it is to stand counter to the American ethic of cultural and racial equality.

Maybe Mr. Rothman wrote his article to get a reaction, to get the rest of us thinking and talking about what we value. I doubt it but I have to suggest it as a possibility out of a reluctance to accept that he, and potentially others, really believe what he states about the rural West and its people. And if Mr. Daggett is the only reason for Mr. Rothman's position, then he might try getting to know other Westerners and, consequently, more of the rural West. He might also try to understand the motivations behind Mr. Daggett's outburst, many of which resemble the comments in Mr. Rothman's article.


Most ag land is devoted to feeding livestock, not people

Subject: Agriculture's environmental impact
Date: Monday, Feb. 28, 2000
From: George Wuerthner

Rick Krase's thinks he's being so cute when he asks whether I know where my food comes from. Just because we all need to eat, doesn't negate the facts -- agriculture is the single most destructive land use in the country, vastly outweighing the impacts associated with sprawl. Most of us drive cars, too, and this doesn't mean it's not appropriate to point out that cars are responsible for air pollution, sprawl, and other associated impacts. Furthermore, most agricultural production is devoted to animal agriculture, not foods consumed directly by humans, and that's really my point.

A minimum of 1.2 billion acres out of 1.9 billion acres in the lower 48 states is used for agricultural production. No other human activity affects so much of the land base directly, nor fragments more of the remaining habitat than agriculture. Yet most of the agricultural land in this country is used to grow grains and other forage fed directly to livestock, primarily cattle. As I noted, U.S. farmers grew 80 million acres of feeder corn last year -- that's nearly as much acreage as the entire state of Montana (93 million acres). Add to this is the 74 million acres of soybeans (95 percent of which is fed to livestock despite its limited use for tofu and other soy products). We had 110 million acres (an area larger than Montana) devoted to pasture, and another 60 million acres in hay production. And the majority of non-cultivated ag land is used for livestock grazing.

Given how much former wildlife habitat is degraded by farming and ranching, it's not surprising that agriculture is responsible for 70 percent of the species listed under the ESA. Agriculture is also responsible for the majority of the soil contaminated by pesticides, the majority of water pollution in the country, the majority of habitat fragmentation. Even a small reduction in meat consumption by the nation would free tons of land for restoration, free up billions of dollars wasted on ag subsidies that could be used for acquisition of open space and wildlife habitat that is currently being destroyed by the agricultural interests.


Hunger is a compelling argument
Subject: Agriculture's environmental impact
Date: Friday, Feb. 25, 2000
From: Rick Krause

This is in reply to George Wuerthner's recent letter on eliminating agriculture.

George, I presume that you like to eat. Do you have any idea where your nourishment comes from?


Agriculture destroys more than sprawl

Subject: Agriculture's environmental impact
Date: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2000
From: George Wuerthner

There has been a lot of media attention placed upon the effects of sprawl. There is no doubt that sprawl can increase costs for community, result in a loss of wildlife habitat and open space, increase a reliance upon the automobile and have many other negative consequences. Sprawl needs to be effectively dealt with. Yet many propose maintaining agricultural lands and production as a hedge against sprawl without fully examining the environmental impacts of agriculture.

Nothing has destroyed more biodiversity than agriculture. Sprawl is a pin prick upon the landscape compared to the ecological footprint of agriculture. Agriculture is listed as the major factor in the listing of 70 percent of the species currently on the Endangered Species List. Agriculture is the major source for soil erosion. It is the major source of non-point water pollution. It is the major factor in habitat fragmentation. The list goes on and on. Yet the ecological impact of agriculture is virtually ignored by the media and even most environmental organizations. Some like the Nature Conservancy even promote maintaining agriculture as a desirable goal -- displaying either ignorance or complete denial of biological impacts of agriculture on biodiversity.

In terms of ecological foot print, agriculture affects far more of the U.S. than sprawl. For example, according to the latest figures from the USDA, urban development including all malls, factories, and subdivisions occupies 80 million acres or 3 percent of the US land area. Nation-wide, agriculture impacts a minimum of 75 percent of the landscape directly and fragments an greater amount of land -- essentially making it useless for many species.

One only has to look to Montana to see how this plays out. Despite the growing problem of sprawl in the Bitterroot Valley, Gallatin Valley and a few other places, according to the Montana GAP analysis, only 0.21 percent of the state is urbanized and developed. By comparison, agriculture -- both farming and livestock grazing -- directly affects more than 80 percent of the state. How else can one explain the fact that 95 percent of Montana has 4 people or less per square mile -- in other words practically uninhabited, yet we have many species like grizzly, wolf, bison, sage grouse, swift fox, and many other species extirpated from most of the state. If agriculture were so good for wildlife, than eastern Montana, which is dominated by agriculture, should be a wildlife haven. Instead, most of the state's endangered species survive in western Montana where the majority of people live.

Certainly we have to eat, but food consumed directly by humans makes up a small fraction of the land farmed. Indeed, last year all the vegetables in the US were produced on 1.9 million acres. By comparison, we had 80 million acres in feeder corn, 74 million acres in soybeans, 110 million acres in pasture, 60 million acres in hay production -- all crops fed primarily to livestock. And these figures do not even begin to count the hundreds of millions of acres grazed by cattle.

The fact remains we could easily feed the nation and reduce substantially the impact of agriculture by a major reduction in meat production. Groups like the Nature Conservancy and others that advocate ranching as a means of protecting the environment ignore the full ecological impacts of livestock and farming upon the landscape, and instead are promoting a non-sustainable activity. We should be trying to limit the ecological footprint of both sprawl and agriculture. It's not a choice of either/or. We can and should control and reduce the effects of both land use planning and zoning, and the public acquisition of critical lands. The annual subsidies both direct (34.2 billion last year) and indirect (costs of endangered species loss and recovery, water pollution treatment, etc.) of agriculture could be redirected towards land acquisition.

If we focus on anything--we should be focusing on eliminating all unnecessary agriculture. Trophy ranches and farms are just as bad for the environment as trophy homes -- yet we honor the trophy rancher, and denigrate the trophy home builder.

Environmentalists distort proposed BLM rules
Subject: Misinterpreted range rider
From: Rick Krause
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999
The Domenici proposal to allow livestock grazing to continue pending BLM
review of its permits has been completely distorted by environmental groups
and others. It is not intended to let ranchers escape environmental
scrutiny; rather, it allows both the ranchers and BLM temporary relief from
an overwhelming situation.
The situation is this: BLM has decreed that all of its permits must undergo
environmental analysis before they can be renewed. Approximately 5,000
permits are up for renewal this fiscal year, an unusually high number. The
last word from the agency was that about 1,300 permits would not complete
this review this year. That means 1,300 permittees will be denied use of
much-needed grazing lands simply because the government has failed to do its
job in a timely manner. Grossly unfair.
Passage of the Domenici amendment would provide a "win-win" for all sides.
It would allow ranchers to continue their operations without interruption,
it would give BLM time to complete its job, and it would provide detailed
environmental analysis instead of the rushed, short-cutted procedures that
might have been used. Everyone wins.
For those still on the fence, consider this-what if you were among the 1300
unlucky ones?
A reader takes exception to our headline on 8/30: EPA plan worries ranchers
Subject: ranchers???
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 11:45:52 EDT
From: Lance Olsen
To: Headwaters News
"It's amazing to me, the folks who can get away with calling themselves
ranchers nowadays," the eastern Montana rancher told me. For many, it seems
that anyone having anything at all to do with beef cows is a rancher, but the
people who are ranchers know the difference, and wince when the rest of the
world misunderstands.
Feedlot operators aren't ranchers. Feedlot operators put cows in crowded pens
where they transform grain to beef, and sell it. That ain't ranching.
Ranchers aren't at all upset when feedlot operators have to control
pollution. That's a problem for feedlot operators.
I know you already know, but the one headline this morning prompted just this
lil' reminder.
Re: In-depth section on public lands grazing
Subject: cows on public lands
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 07:12:34 -0700
From: Ginny Clerget
To <>
It seems to me the trouble with a lot of ranchers is they think they own everything---even the public land they graze their cows on. I feel they do NOT own the public land and when they turn their cows loose and unattended on public land, then they should have to accept any losses themselves. But no, they whine and wimp and cry to "control" (shoot) the wolf or the bear or the mountain lion. What they really need controlled is their responsibility to watch their cattle or sheep or whatever it is they send out there and turned loose on their own for only God knows how long.
I would like to see all public lands taken away from ranchers. They can just keep their cows down home on the farm where they belong. I feel I have a part of public lands too, and I would like to see wildlife being wildlife there, free and not behind fences. I would REALLY like to see the beautiful land and clear water uncluttered with cow dung!!!
Ginny Clerget
Re: Conserving ranching from The Atlantic Monthly
Subject: The Atlantic Monthly Critique
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 12:39:11 -0600
From: Mike Hudak
To: Tracy Stone-Manning <>

The publication of Perri Knize's pro-ranching article in The Atlantic
Monthly is an event of enormous significance in the campaign to protect
western public lands from the environmental tyranny of the livestock
industry. It is the first time I'm aware of that a mainstream,
non-environmental, mass-media magazine has so strongly supported the
livestock industry, and dismissed and attacked those who seek to protect
public lands.
Knize's article is filled with unsupported claims and misleading
half-truths. The typical reader of The Atlantic Monthly (upper middle
class, urban resident) is unlikely to possess the knowledge to see
through this haze of deceit, and will likely believe Knize's assertions
at face value.
Even environmentalists, who have not intensively studied the topic of
public lands ranching, may lack the specific knowledge to rebut many of
Knize's statements. This document is intended as a resource for those
environmentalists. I hope it serves as the inspiration for many a
letter to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly. And I hope it encourages
people, who have additional knowledge of public lands ranching relevant
to the Knize article, to share it with others.
This critique is not meant as a substitute for actually reading Knize's
article. She employs many techniques of rhetoric that I have not felt
worthy of analysis. Nevertheless, to fully appreciate the damaging
impact of her article, one should be aware of them. Here I have focused
on matters of fact for which I have documentation.
Quotes from Knize's article are preceded by her initials "PK." My
comments follow my initials: "MH."

(Editor's note: From here forward, we've only excerpted Hudak's critique.
The full text, with citations, can be found online by clicking here)
PK: "The typical public-lands rancher is not a wealthy cattle baron.
Though his ranch may be registered as a family corporation, he is barely
making a living."
MH: Let's examine the demographics of ranchers and their utilization of
forage on BLM and Forest Service land. (from GAO reports):
Forest Service (Regions 1-6): The largest 2,000 permittees (24.4%)
utilize 79.0% of the forage , while the smallest 2,000
permittees utilize 1.3% of the forage.
On BLM lands there is a similar utilization of resources by large
ranchers: The largest 2,000 permittees (10.6%) utilize 66.1% of the forage,
while the smallest 2,000 permittees utilize 0.13% of the
My reading of the data suggests that Knize is correct in saying that the
"average" rancher is not a wealthy cattle baron. But it seems that
"wealthy cattle barons" control the vast majority of forage on public
PK: "His [the public lands rancher] permit fees are not a form of
subsidy--he has already paid full market value for the right to graze
public lands."
MH: That's right, the money didn't go to the federal government--it went
to the previous seller of the ranch. This is explained in great detail
in Stern (1998).
PK: "But when all the costs of private and public forage are compared,
it becomes clear that in many cases ranchers pay more for public range
than they do for private. On average, according to some economic
studies, it is a wash."
MH: In summary, Knize is correct that there exist studies showing that
public lands permits are comparable in cost to private leases, but she
fails to inform the reader that these studies are based on rancher
surveys. Studies based on independent accounting methods tend to show
that federal permit costs are less than private ones.
PK: "George Wuerthner, an ardent and well-known anti-grazing activist,
claims, 'Livestock grazing is the single most ecologically damaging
activity we engage in.'"
"... environmentalists would have us believe that cattle grazing is an
ecological evil on a par with clear-cut logging and open-pit mining.
There is no justification for this claim."
MH: George Wuerthner is a lot closer to the truth on this point than is
Knize. Wilcove et al. (1998) examined various environmental impacts on
1207 plant and animal species federally listed as endangered,
threatened, or proposed for listing. Logging impacted 12%; mining
(including gas & oil extraction) impacted 11%; livestock grazing
impacted 22%. In a way, Knize is correct in saying that
livestock grazing as an "ecological evil" is not on a par with logging
and mining because it's actually much worse than either of them.
PK: "In 1990 the Bureau of Land Management reported that the public
range was in the best condition yet this century, and improving."
MH: This assertion is not supported by a subsequent GAO (1991) study:
"We could not confirm BLM's conclusion that the public rangeland is in
better condition than ever before in this century because the historic
studies BLM relied upon were prepared using different methodologies in
some cases and in other instances did not contain supporting
documentation. Thus, their results are not comparable.

PK: "Aggressive restoration programs are now in place, using methods
such as installing water tanks to divert cattle from streams, selective
exclosure fencing to keep cattle off stream banks, and rotational
grazing systems that change the time and the duration of grazing. The
GAO has found these efforts to be very successful, calling the
improvements 'dramatic.'"
MH: Knize is probably referring to GAO (1988) which profiled 22 riparian
restoration projects. What Knize says is true, but what she fails to
tell us from the report is of considerable interest. For example:
"Successes have been achieved but much remains to be done. Thousands of
miles of riparian areas remain in degraded condition and in need of
attention. At the current pace, it will probably take several decades,
and in some places even longer, before most riparian areas are restored
to good condition."
PK: "When we see degraded rangeland today, for the most part we are
seeing the sins of ranchers' grandfathers and great-grandfathers.
Today's progressive ranchers have no plans to return to those methods;
they have found that ecosystem management is ultimately more economical,
producing healthier cattle and better forage."
MH: Bottom line: Holistic Resource Management, the basis of "ecologically
beneficial ranching" touted by Dan Dagget and hence implicitly promoted
by Knize, has not lived up to its claims under scientific scrutiny. The
few instances where it has resulted in some environmental improvement
have cost a lot of money, not something the "average" public lands
rancher has, even according to Knize (1999:54): "The typical
public-lands rancher is not a wealthy cattle baron. Though his ranch
may be registered as a family corporation, he is barely making a
PK: "In June of last year a MacArthur grant was awarded to William
McDonald, a rancher and a director of the nonprofit Malpai Borderlands
Group, at the juncture of Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona. The group's
mission statement declares a commitment to restoring and maintaining
'the natural processes that create and protect a healthy, unfragmented
landscape to support a diverse, flourishing community of human, plant,
and animal life in our Borderlands Region.'"
MH: [Quoting from a letter from George Wuerthner]:
"Drum Hadley, heir to the Anheuser Bush beer fortune, along with
the Nature Conservancy, are underwriting much of the expense and innovation
needed to bring about these changes in cattle operations. In other words,
it's questionable whether the Malpai Borderlands example can be replicated elsewhere.
That is why the Malpai Borderlands is used as one of the only examples
of 'ecologically friendly' livestock operations in the West. You have
to ask why all the articles that mention how ranching is compatible with
ecosystem preservation always use the same few examples such as the
Malpai Borderlands. ... The Malpai is often cited as an example of how
ranching is preventing subdivisions. Yet of the more than two dozen ranchers
affiliated with the project, I am told by a source close to the project
that only three ranches--all owned by Drum Hadley or his son--have
conservation easements on them forever precluding development. In other
words, the rest of the ranchers are keeping their options open. The
Malpai may not be 'saved' from subdivision at all. What is saving the
Malpai area is remoteness." (Wuerthner 1999)
The full text, with complete references and citations, of Hudak's comments
can be found here.
Re: Giving voice to the land in the ranching debate from the Denver Post, posted on Headwaters 4/5/99.
April 5, 1999
Dear Editor:
It is indeed interesting that in a recent editorial, William deBuys claims to be speaking for the land, and suggests that environmentalists and ranchers should work together to save the West. In typical fashion for many who see consensus as the new mode of operation, there is a distinct lack of consideration for the land.
Livestock production is responsible for more endangered species, more water pollution, more soil pollution, more loss of native plant community, more introduction of exotic weeds, more extirpations of predators and "pests" like prairie dogs, more dewatering of rivers than any other human activity. If we were concerned about the land as Mr. deBuys says, we would do a full accounting of these costs.
He demonstrates his ignorance or unwillingness to do such an accounting in the example used to support his argument. He mentions the encroachment of trees into meadows in New Mexico and blames it all on fire suppression, but there is a vast amount of scientific literature that suggests that tree invasion is due as much to livestock grazing that removed fine fuels and grasses that carried fires and the competition for water that limited establishment of tree seedlings as fire suppression. Mr. deBuys forgets to mention this.
By ignoring the multiple costs of livestock production, industry apologists like Mr. deBuys can suggest we can have our beef and eat it too. Unfortunately, if we really did consider the land, we would quickly see the fallacy in such an argument.Growing a water-loving, slow-moving animal in the arid West makes as much sense as growing rice in the desert of California Central Valley. You can do it if you get enough environmental and economic subsidies, but we need to ask do we really need to grow cows in the arid West? If we asked such a question first, I don't think one would conclude ranching makes any sense.
George Wuerthner
Box 1526
Livingston, Montana 59047
Ranching and Agriculture | Endangered Species | General praise, grumblings | Roadless Initiative | Education | Logging | Wilderness  | 2000 Wildfires | Politics | Miscellany | top

Endangered Species
Canadian bill won't protect endangered species

Subject: Proposed Canadian Species at Risk Act
Date: Friday, July 7, 2000
From: Kate Smallwood,
B.C. Endangered Species Coalition

Canada has finally introduced its endangered species legislation, the Species at Risk Act. The bill is woefully deficient in all the key areas, especially habitat protection.

Why should Americans care what Canada does or doesn't do with its species? More than 80 percent of Canadian species migrate or range into the United States. Species such as the grizzly bear, Orca whale and Monarch butterfly. Species protected under the US Endangered Species Act that face "open season" in Canada.

Canada has also helped the U.S. supplement populations of species at risk. Canadian wolves, lynx and grizzly bears have all been sent down south on a permanent breeding holiday.

No Canadian environmental organization is supporting the bill in current form. In February last year, more than 640 scientists across Canada signed an open letter to the Canadian prime minister calling for strong endangered species legislation. The concerns outlined in their letter have not been addressed in the bill.

So what's wrong with the proposed Species at Risk Act, Canada's answer to endangered species protection?

In marked contrast to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Canadian bill fails to provide mandatory protection for critical habitat, allows politicians, not scientists, to make final listing decisions for species at risk, provides minimal, if any, protection for transboundary species such as grizzly bear and woodland
caribou, and abdicates primary responsibility for species protection to the provinces.

Even worse, the bill is primarily limited to federal lands and waters. That's a meager 5 percent of Canada, if you exclude the Yukon and Northwest Territories. For species lucky to find themselves at a post office, military base, Indian reserve, Coast Guard station or national park, the prospects are hopeful. For endangered species in the other 95 percent of Canada, life insurance is a hot item.

Environmentalists manipulate law to their own ends
Subject: Grizzlies in the Bitterroots
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1999
From: Richard Krause
I have read with great interest and amusement the stories you have linked to regarding the Sierra Club's "Great Grizzly Search" in the Bitterroot Mountains area of Idaho and Montana. If bears are found, they reason, the Endangered Species Act would prohibit the introduction of an experimental population of bears.
It is amusing because the American Farm Bureau Federation made this very same argument four years ago with regard to the introduction of gray wolves into the Yellowstone area and Central Idaho. At that time environmental groups sided with the government and said the Farm Bureau argument was wrong. Can we now conclude that the environmental groups have seen the error of their ways and that they now agree with Farm Bureau that the wolf introduction was illegal?
Or do we conclude that these groups manipulate their interpretation of the law to suit their own agenda?
Subject: Rio Grande River dying according to government report
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 18:13:29 -0700
From: Kevin Van Tighem
Rhetorical denials notwithstanding, the next report will almost
certainly be a whitewash by senior managers more concerned with career
tenure than the brave soul who leaked the draft. What the agencies are
telling us is that there is no way to live in New Mexico and southern
Colorado without killing it. This is an ugly message, untrue, and
unworthy of people who collect paycheques for serving the public
For BuRec to say they have no ability to do what needs to be
done is a narrow interpretation based on the status quo -- they, and we,
can do anything that needs to be done if we are willing to invest enough
creativity and take the heat for doing what's right. Laws create
boundaries, but goodwill and passion can sometimes bridge those
boundaries. It isn't that water bureaucrats can't find difficult
solutions -- it's that they never wanted to and never intend to.
Hats off to the brave soul who leaked this draft report because, in the end,
it is only an informed public who can force rogue agencies to serve the
land with decency and integrity.
Kevin Van Tighem
Re: Endangered Species Act hamstrung, governors say
Subject: Governor's ESA
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 11:06:19 -0600
From: George Wuerthner
To: Headwaters News
To the Editor:
The recent article about how western governors want greater
flexibility and local control regarding species listed under the Endangered
Species Act. These governors overlook the fact that they have plenty of
local control and input--before a species is listed. The federal government
only steps in after the states themselves have failed to act responsibly.
If these governors were doing their jobs, and promoting the protection of
habitat and species, few animals or plants would find themselves on the ESA
list. The problem is that these same governors are continuously--with few
exceptions--supporting policies that destroys or degrades wildlife habitat.
If these governors want local control-they can provide all the incentives
and all the consensus leadership that claim will avoid listing. They don't
need to wait for the federal government to act. The problem is that over and
over again actions have demonstrated a weak commitment to protecting
wildlife if it conflicts with established and entrenched economic interests.
That is why federal action is necessary. If these governors don't want
federal involvement, then they can enact their own solutions. The bottom
line is that species continue to be listed because these governors are a lot
better at whining than doing anything constructive for our biological
George Wuerthner
Box 1526
Livingston, Montana 59047
Re: Wolves den in the Bitterroot
Subject: Bitterroot Wolves
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 10:04:52 -0600
From: Gloria Phillip, Missoula, Montana
To: Headwaters News
I hope the cattle ranchers will be able to achieve a peaceful coexistence
with the Bitterroot wolves. Too many times the solution is to kill wild
animals: as in the last disgraceful episode of the termination of the
Yellowstone buffalo. I do not credit their specious reasoning for the
killing of the buffalo: the cattle could have been easily vaccinated. This
is like killing everybody with flu instead of the rest of us getting a
simple vaccine. The buffalo killings were a tragedy and I hope the wolves
won't be next.
Ranching and Agriculture | Endangered Species | General praise, grumblings | Roadless Initiative | Education | Logging | Wilderness | 2000 Wildfires | Politics |Miscellany | top


Private forest may be economically sustainable, but that's different

Subject: Conservationists praise private California forest's management.
Date: Monday, Oct. 23, 2000
From: George Wuerthner
Eugene, Ore.

The recent article on Collins Pine could be misinterpreted like a lot happy talk we read these days that resource extraction is environmentally benign or even "beneficial" as some try to suggest. Certainly the tone of the recent article started out giving one the impression that Collins Pine operations were the happy coincidence where you can log and still preserve ecological processes.

Unless you read to the end of the article, one would get the impression that this timber company was practicing "sustainable" and "environmentally benign" logging. If you visit Collins land you will find that it's better than a cut and run operation, but it's questionable whether it is really "sustainable" in the long run.

As the author noted, to "the untrained eye" it looks good. But a trained ecologist or anyone who has spent much time in truly unmanipulated and wild forests notes the differences immediately. The forest still looks sanitized. Collins timber holdings have a paucity of down woody debris, as was noted at the end of the article. It has few snags. There are roads everywhere providing access for the spread of exotic weeds and access for hunters and others. Important ecological processes like wildfire are minimized or eliminated. Collins Pine forest may not be devastated, but it's not necessarily an ecologically sustainable operation.

Fortunately the author did include some reservations about Collins Pine operations, as voiced by Dominic De Salla and Roy Keene, both excellent ecologists, but these were not presented until the very end of the article.

The best one can conclude from the article is that the company has been economically sustainable for a hundred years. But economic sustainability is not the same as ecological sustainability. A hundred years is hardly a test for a forest given that many trees live 500 to 700 years, and the consequences of soil nutrient losses, soil compaction from heavy logging equipment operation and other impacts won't be seen for several generations.

Is Collins Pine operations better than most other corporate timber owners? Yes they are. Are they ecologically sustainable? The jury is still out on that one. Is it a environmentally benign alternative to a wild fores? No it is not.


Lack of public logs due to corporate greed, not Forest Service policy

Subject: Federal policies cripple local economies, report says
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2000
From: Steve Thompson

Whitefish, Mont.

The economic report on rural woes in the Columbia Basin ("Federal policies cripple local economies, report says," Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, July 24) displays either shoddy research or ideological bias. This is particularly disturbing in that taxpayers in the four northwestern states underwrote this report by Barney and Worth, Inc. The authors of the report clearly don't grasp the reality of the situation in western Montana.

The report (available on the web at states that declining private timber harvests have occurred due to "a decrease in demand and increasingly stringent forest management rules." (p. 22). The report specifically ties these declines in private timber harvest to federal policies, as they are listed in Appendix C under "Federal Government Influences."

In fact, the opposite is true. Instead of federal policies forcing a reduction in private timber harvesting in western Montana, it is corporate policies that have forced a reduction in federal timber harvesting. Over the past decade, the Forest Service has been forced to cancel or defer hundreds of millions of board feet of planned timber sales due to unacceptable watershed and wildlife habitat conditions where intermingled private lands have been subjected to accelerated and unsustainable logging levels. The Forest Service has reported this situation in the Lolo, Flathead, Bitterroot and Kootenai National Forests.

The two major timber companies in western Montana -- controlling roughly 90 percent of the private, industrial timberland -- embarked 25 years ago on an
unprecedented binge of liquidation logging. Both companies, Champion International and Plum Creek Timber Company, freely admitted that they were
engaged in unsustainable logging levels. After liquidating the vast majority of its standing timber inventory in 20 years, Champion abandoned the region for warmer climes and more productive forest sites. Plum Creek is in the process of doing the same, announcing in recent SEC documents that it will complete the process of "converting" mature and old-growth forests to young stands in the northern Rockies. Harvest levels will decline appreciably while these young stands take around 80 years to mature.

The short boom of the corporate logging era in western Montana is over, and the bust period is about to afflict the region's timber economy. Global markets and public log supplies are factors in the looming bust, but the biggest factor by far is the behavior of the state's large timber companies.

Forest industry's shift to Southeast no surprise

Subject: Timber battles shifts to South.
Date: Monday, July 24, 2000
From:Lance Olsen, acting director
Ambience International
Missoula, Mont.

Are the timber corporations shifting emphasis to the Southeast U.S.? Well, yes, of course they are. They are right on script. It was entirely
predictable, and in fact it was predicted years ago.

I remember picking up a copy of the Wall Street Journal some years back and finding a front page article about logging in the Pacific Northwest, which includes western Montana. The Journal said that major logging firms had settled -- temporarily -- in the Pacific Northwest and were reducing the supply of standing forest "dramatically." At the same time, conservationists were saying that the levels of logging we were seeing in our area was unsustainable, meaning of course that it couldn't last.

The Journal article confirmed our diagnosis of trouble ahead. It said that the big timber outfits would get what they could from the PNW forests, and
then go to the Southeast U.S.

The Forest Service acknowledged that something was afoot. In an AP story of 1992, a few years after the Journal exposed the industry's script for all to
see, Forest Service officials were quoted saying that the agency was looking for a new career in recreation, at least in part because of "fewer trees." The script was unfolding.

Now the chickens have come home to roost. After congressional spending of tons and tons of public money to hasten the stripping of forest off public lands, our region has lots fewer trees, and now the Southeast is losing its trees too. We now must operate within much tighter constraints, and the Southeast is
losing its options.

Logging is large but dwindling part of B.C. economy

Subject: Coastal logging agreement needs input from all sides.
Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2000
From: Steve Thompson,
Whitefish, MT

Headwaters News almost always provides a pithy, insightful synopsis of its featured articles and commentaries. However, that wasn't the case with the June 6 description of the Vancouver Sun editorial about British Columbia's ongoing timber battles. The description states that "logging accounts for roughly half the B.C. economy."

In fact, B.C.'s economy is much more diverse than that, and timber plays a diminishing role in the economy. The article actually said that timber accounts for about half of B.C.'s exports. However, there's much more to the economy than exports. Together, timber and mining account for only 12 percent of B.C.'s economy, down from 21 percent in 1976, according to a recent article in the Globe and Mail. High-tech industries are expected to surpass the forestry sector within three years.

Despite its shrinking share of B.C.'s economy, timber remains important to the economy. In large part, that's because B.C. is still mining the timber frontier of old-growth forests. At considerable cost to wildlife habitat, fisheries and water quality, 90 percent of B.C.'s logging is in old-growth forests. Although some examples of sustainable or stewardship logging can be found in B.C., most of the province's logging is mortgaged against a growing environmental debt. Throughout the province, massive clearcuts mar the landscape. The externalized costs of environmental damage are not factored into the price of B.C. wood products that are exported to the U.S.

Fortunately, a growing international coalition of environmental and consumer groups are demanding accountability in the market place. Especially in Europe but also in the US, green consumers are boycotting B.C. wood products from old-growth forests. This consumer action has brought B.C.'s timber industry to the table, and in some cases is resulting in much better forest practices.

American consumers should be particularly vigilant to the origin of the wood products they consume. Particularly in the northern Rockies, heavy-handed logging and road-construction practices on the north side of the 49th parallel has damaged the habitat for our shared transboundary species. In particular, American populations of grizzly bear and woodland caribou are imperiled to a significant degree by forestry practices of our northern neighbor.

BC forests are rich and diverse, but they are threatened by the mad rush for export dollars. With the help of the consuming public, B.C. can sustainably harvest wood products without destroying the golden goose of its beautiful environment.

Editor's note: Headwaters synopsis was inaccurate and has since been corrected.

Rural pain due to corporate fascism

Subject: Workers, communities suffer from federal policies.
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2000
From: Jeff Juel
The Ecology Center, Inc.
Missoula, MT

Dave Skinner does nobody a service with his article, "Montana tax protest is a metaphor for rural pain." Before writing such an article, he needs to check his facts and clean up his rhetoric. Let's look at some of his allegations:

"The organizers canceled over concerns that neo-Nazis and eco-weirdoes would crash the event and spur full-blown riots."

I won't respond to the neo-nazi part, but what is an "eco-weirdo"? We know that neo-nazi groups threaten violence, but what is the purpose of such an inflammatory label on the environmental community? Furthermore, if Skinner would have checked, he'd find that no environmentalist or environmental groups publicly stated they planned to participate in the Libby rally. All he would've had to do was do a quick check to find out it was an allegation spread by the organizers of the event, who are not environmentalists.

"... There are hundreds of thousands of acres of dead standing timber on the Kootenai National Forest."

Perhaps now we are getting to the root of Skinner's motivations. This quote is often dredged up by timber industry representatives who are irked because the Forest Service has realized its unsustainable rate of clearcutting on the Kootenai National Forest was putting species at risk and subjecting them to legal challenge. The "hundreds of thousands of acres of dead standing timber on the Kootenai National Forest" is a complete and utter fabrication. There are tens of thousands of acres of clearcuts on the Kootenai, though. The question is, is Skinner foolish enough to be used by capitalist resource plunderers, or is he one of them?

"How would you feel if you had attended endless "stakeholder" meetings trying to achieve "consensus," only to have those good-faith efforts blown out of the water by arbitrary suits, mindless appeals and contradictory rulings?"

Mr. Skinner, there have been no lawsuits on the Kootenai National Forest that have ever stopped the logging of a single acre. And what of these "mindless appeals"? This is more timber industry rhetoric. If someone files an appeal, then it stops a timber sale if and only if the Forest Service agrees the timber sale violates laws. Is Dave Skinner advocating lawlessness?

"Montana is dead last nationwide in per-capita income, and rural counties like Lincoln County are even worse off, with above-state-average unemployment."

Actually, this is true. Consider this fact, Mr. Skinner: the Kootenai National Forest logged a higher volume of timber throughout the 1990s than all the rest of the national forests in Montana combined. So why the desperate economic situation in Lincoln County? It's simply the "bust" end of the boom and bust cycle coming home to roost. The Forest Service, at the urging of PAC-fed porkers like Larry Craig and Conrad Burns, has logged at what they knew was an unsustainable rate, while at the same time they told loggers and the communities that they could do this forever. The wealth of the forest has been taken from Montana and the local communities by corporations, and next the taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill to restore the ecosystems.

People and communities are "on the edge" because of corporate fascism; it's not some nebulous United Nations plot. If Mr. Skinner purports to speak for the rights and concerns of communities and people, then he should stop pushing the corporate agenda.

Forests, sprawl, and a solution

Subject: Cities double their rate of sprawl
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1999
From: Lance Olsen
The New York Times' report on forests lost to sprawl leaves something out, but it still hits key themes important to us all. It leaves out that forests are twice lost to sprawl, but the article nevertheless serves as another guide to
at least one of the needed solutions.
The Times reported only on forest lost as sprawl puts up housing where privately owned forests used to be. It leaves out all the forest that falls to supply raw material as the construction industry erects more real estate. That construction boom has been taking down public forests, as well as displacing privately owned forests. After all, who of us has not seen
numerous news articles that dutifully cite the number of nice new homes that could be built as the Forest Service plans more logging sales?
This is subsidized start-to-finish, from logging to construction. It's a stellar example of the recent American trend to "subsidized capitalism," itself a stellar example of an oxymoron. At the core of this, tax law written by the U.S. Congress and approved in the White House. One keylog here is a law that props up the foundations of sprawl. Last time I asked a CPA, the keylog law was still on the books. Under this law, if you or I are rich enough to borrow a few million for our
luxurious new starter castle in the woods, Congress in all its wisdom has decided that you and I are eligible for a tax break.
It's no small break. It's up to a cool million bucks, per castle. Thereby the taxpayer picks up the tab, not just for logging on the national forests, but for sprawl, including sprawl into privately owned forest. Forests get hit twice, a distinction shared with the national pool of cash. So, already we've got quadruple dipping.
There's more. You or I would get that tax break even if our shiny new castle was built on habitat important to survival -- or maybe in the case of the grizzly, recovery -- of faltering wildlife species.
Species, forests and the people all pay for sprawl, and in economic terms, as well as in ecological risks. But you and I get up to a million freed-up dollars in tax breaks, while the construction and logging industries get a costly boost.
I've been suggesting that there might a solution here. Look closely enough at any problem, and the solution should eventually come walking out of the shadows. It seems to me that the tax laws, made by Congress, could use some
constructive rewriting.
Sprawl has become a problem, and costly in a few more ways than one.
Re: Plum Creek stumped on image
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 10:15:34 -0600
From: Steve Thompson <>
To: Headwaters News
Regarding the June 10 posting from the Tobacco Valley News, "Plum Creek
stumped on image."
The only folks who seem to buy Plum Creek's expensive and sophisticated
campaign of environmental self-promotion are folks who don't know what's
going on out in the woods. Loggers, foresters and wildlife advocates who have
kept a close eye on Plum Creek over the years will tell you that the company
has, if anything, gotten worse.
Here's why Plum Creek is still the Darth Vader: First, it's true that Plum Creek
doesn't do as much clearcutting as before. Instead, much of their logging under
the false flag of "environmental forestry" is high-grade logging in which they
remove the best trees and retain a mostly submerchantable understory. This
high-grade logging has serious long-term implications for forest genetics, succession
and species mix. On a minority of logging projects, primarily in publicly visible
areas and places where they conduct "environmental forestry" tours, they do practice
decent forestry. But this is a smokescreen
for the larger reality.
The bigger issue, however, is that Plum Creek is nearing the end of its massive
timber liquidation era of the past 15 years, (which Headwaters publisher Dick Manning
masterfully reported in the Missoulian in the late 1980s.) The Seattle-based company
is scraping the bottom of its timber barrel across 1.5 million acres in Montana. They've
juiced their timber lands. That's why they're moving their riches (originally a gift from
the U.S. public in the form of railroad grant lands) to the Southeast and New England.
Plum Creek's legacy in Montana reminds me of a comment by an International Paper
executive several years ago quoted by forester Gordon Robinson in his book, The Forest
and the Trees. "Hell Robbie. We're on sustained yield," IP's Jude White said. "When we
clean up the timber in the West, we'll return to New England, where the industry began."
Ideally, we could say that the damage is done and we could breathe a sigh of relief that
Darth Vader is moving back to the East. However, the end of the timber liquidation era
has only given rise to Plum Creek's second Montana liquidation: real estate speculation.
With most of the merchantable timber gone, the company has identified more than 10
percent of its lands in valley bottoms and foothills that have the "higher and better use"
of subdivisions and ranchettes. Plum Creek has identified more than 10 percent of its
Montana holdings that have the "higher and better use" of subdivisions and ranchettes.
They are in the midst of this sale program right now. Of course, Plum Creek would
just as soon sell to the Nature Conservancy or Forest Service - less controversial - as
long as they pay the full inflated appraisal based on the worst-case development scenario.
Montana loggers and sportsmen across western Montana are dismayed at this second
stage of Plum Creek's Montana liquidation strategy. Consider just one example:
In 1996, Plum Creek identified 70,000 acres of "higher and better use lands" in the
bottomlands and foothills of the Thompson and Fisher River valleys in northwestern
Montana. This greatly alarmed sportsmen and the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks, because these lands provide critical winter range, wildlife migration corridors and
sportsmen access.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks approached Plum Creek
about using sportsmen and wildlife funds to purchase the development rights on
those lands, hereby paying Plum Creek to continue its logging program. Although
the state initially sought to purchase development rights on the 70,000 acres of
higher and better use lands, Plum Creek quickly informed the state that this might
not be sufficient to secure the state's interest. Upon further reflection, Plum Creek
told state officials that it could punch driveways and develop properties higher up
on the slopes of those two watersheds. Thus, Plum Creek told the state, you'd
better purchase development rights on all 170,000 acres.
So the state currently is negotiating the purchase of development rights in which
ownership would be fully retained by Plum Creek. Although the actual development
potential of these lands is speculative, Plum Creek knows that state officials and
sportsmen are unwilling to take the chance. Plum Creek initially told the state they
believed the development rights were worth $10 to $20 million, although their
estimates have been increasing. In asserting this value, Plum Creek has posited
the worst case scenario in which they sell properties in quarter-section
chunks to developers who will do the actual dirty work. Negotiations continue
about the terms of extortion.
Plum Creek never does anything that doesn't directly pad its bottom line. It's slick
public relations campaign, reflected in the Jun 10 article of the Tobacco Valley News,
reflects a sensible strategy of confusing the public and erasing corporate accountability.
But go into a bar in Libby or a coffee shop in Seeley Lake, and you're likely to get the
real story from the loggers, foresters and sportsmen who know the reality on the ground.
Plum Creek responds only to public pressure that threatens to affect its bottom line.
It has seen the cost of bad PR reflected in financial markets. With continued public
oversight (and, ideally, a new round of big-picture journalism), Montana can hold Plum
Creek accountable.
Steve Thompson
Whitefish, Montana

Re: Trading chainsaws for cell phones (Idaho Falls Post Register commentary)

May 5, 1999
Dear Editor:
DA Davidson, a Great Falls based stock brokerage, saw this same
potential years ago, as did Montana conservationist who preceded Davidson's
forecasts by a few years. Enviros expressed concern about Plum Creek et al
subdividing land in the mid-1980s, in public comments on logging and mining
in the Cabinet Mtns, and in public comments on logging in the Swan Valley. I
remember conversations with Plum Creek biologist Lorin Hicks about this
issue, in which he told me that Plum Creek would keep its lands in the Swan
Valley because those are prime logging ground, but that the company would not
forego any of its possible options. DA Davidson later took out an ad in the
Missoulian, touting Plum Creek as a good investment because, once it
eliminated its trees, it has land to sell. I suspect that the public will be
expected to bail out these former railroad lands from their own risky plans,
if subdivision schemes go forward.
Lance Olsen
Far eastern Montana

Ranching and Agriculture | Endangered Species | General praise, grumblings | Roadless Initiative | Education | Logging | Wilderness | 2000 Wildfires | Politics |Miscellany | top

General praise and grumblings
Re: Morning Summary and House passes anti-UN bill 5/21/99
Subject: black helicopters
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 17:00:59 -0600
From: Michael Umphrey
From the Morning Summary:
"It seems that the black-helicopter paranoia that settles in some corners of
the Rockies has its contingent in the U.S. Congress, too. The House passed a
bill -- spearheaded by Alaska's Don Young -- that would give Congress the
right to veto United Nations lands designations such as World Heritage sites
and biosphere reserves. 'This really ought to be entitled the American land
paranoia act,' commented one congressman"
Though I rather like the World Heritage sites projects, there are legitimate
concerns about the United Nations' role in national affairs. The UN monthly
proposes initiatives that would over-ride national sovereignty with UN
resolutions. This is probably less bothersome to folks who agree with their
left-of-liberal philosophy than to others, but it would seem to me that
anyone who understands the Federalist papers and thinks that American
government has worked reasonably well would have strong reservations about
the structure of UN "government" and the absolute absence of any real
safeguards against abuses of power.
I am not, after all, a citizen of the United Nations and I have no rights
there. Even the President of the United States can find himself in deep
trouble from the government if he breaks a law here or there, but the
Secretary General has little to fear from us. I don't think he has black
helicopters flying over Montana, but neither do I think letting him have a
few would be a good idea.
In the absence of those safeguards, the best course is to withhold power
from the UN. People who feel this way aren't necessary paranoid or whacko.
Perhaps it's just that they're well versed in the stories of Jerusalem,
Athens, Rome, London and the centuries long saga that led to the wisdom
encoded in the U.S. Constitution.
By the way, thanks so much for the work you're doing. I love your site and
read it every day. You do a good job of finding the stories I'm interested
in, even though from your comments I suspect I may read them in a different
light than you do.
Michael Umphrey
Re: Pueblo artifacts
May 21, 1999
I've been reviewing your news summary several times a week. I like what
you're doing.
I see you picked up a NY Times piece on the return of Pueblo artifacts by
Harvard. Good pick, because it is a big story. You might want to look at The
New Mexican's coverage, almost daily in the last week.
Our coverage will continue through Sunday, when we plan a comprehensive
package of stories. Our lead writer, Hollis Walker, is an authority on
repatriation, having spent the 1996-1997 academic year researching the issue
as a national arts fellow.
Rob Dean
Managing Editor
The Santa Fe New Mexican


A Midwest reader sends thanks.

April 14, 1999
To the editor:
I just received in the mail yesterday the announcement of your online
service from the Center for the Rocky Mountain West. As of today I have
it bookmarked. Thanks so much for this lifeline to the Rockies in
general and Montana in particular. It's a great feeling to have that
connection from here in Indiana.
Lynn Youngblood

Ranching and Agriculture | Endangered Species | General praise, grumblings | Roadless Initiative | Education | Logging | Wilderness  | 2000 Wildfires | Politics | Miscellany | top

Roadless Initiative

Roadless initiative provides opportunity for foresters

Subject: Comment in Roadless proposal not enough for either side
Date: Thursday, May 11, 2000
From: Ethan Hasenstein,
Missoula, MT

I found Stephanie Bale's statement that the USFS roadless initiative ("Quote of the Day" 5/10/00) is a dangerous proposition in that it "keeps foresters out" of timbered roadless areas to be right in line with most of the bilge churned out by the Intermountain Forest Association's (formerly Intermountain Forest Industry Association) spin meisters.

What Bales and her cohorts like Cary Hegreberg of the Montana Wood Products Association seem to miss is that this initiative creates outstanding new opportunities to practice forestry.

In fact, this "new" protection (as if these areas became roadless) and its attendant management demands will once again welcome true foresters back into the forest too long closed by industry itself. These roadless lands present foresters with opportunities to expand their practice by:

1. Examining historic forest conditions and integrating this knowledge into innovative forest practices.

2. Learning and applying techniques for intelligent forest restoration to return some already-roaded federal lands to a level of appropriate timber output.

3. Envisioning the practice of forestry not as a static science of production, but as a trade that creates and values services for ecosystems and economies.

4. Developing techniques that capitalize on the ability and desire of consumers to pay for value-added, higher-quality products from regional markets.

I see a generation of foresters and loggers out there who would jump at the chance to practice their trades in innovative ways that capitalize on the opportunities afforded by our region and are sensitive to the limitations of the land.

Keep foresters out of roadless areas? Hardly. Keep investor-driven conglomerates out? You bet. After all, they're making their real money elsewhere.

I don't advocate ending commercial timber harvest on the national forests, and I feel that the roadless plan is imperfect. But I believe the roadless initiative is a rational response to political, ecological, and economic pressures.

Spin doctors like Ms. Bales cling dearly to the good old days, when the timber industry ran our national forests. The public knows better that that era was built on a house of cards -- a house of cards that has collapsed around the feet of folks in small communities throughout the Intermountain West.

Sure, we can rue the passing of the archetypal hardworking Western timber town, but only to a point. A quick glance to the hillsides and the knowledge that the industry has laughed its way to the bank (and to the greener pastures of Chile, New Zealand, and the southeastern U.S.) can quickly jolt us out of sentimentality, thereby getting us to roll up our sleeves and create new paradigms for forestry, land management, and how Western communities inhabit the landscape.

Humans should leave some nature for future generations

Subject: Roadless lands
Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2000
From: Stuart F. Lewin

I support initiatives protecting remaining roadless lands and designating the Missouri Breaks as a national monument. You should too. The debate is too important to leave to the rhetoric of environmentalists, the motor crowd, industry, and politics.

Had past presidents not protected parks and forests, there would be no wild lands today. Back then as now many opposed designations. They were wrong, and today we are grateful. Will future generations be grateful to us?

We are responsible. Yet we have roaded over 95 percent of our "Last Best Place."

We are told that humans are part of the ecosystem and by implication should be allowed freedom to do whatever, wherever. But our part can never be to use everything as a resource or playground. Earth must be allowed wild lands to clean and balance human life or we shall be poisoned by our own waste.

If we love our life, we can love the diverse life of all creation. Four-wheelers or snowmobiles on all remaining wild lands, and making tree farms, pastures or subdivisions of remaining forests is foolishness. We have brains and should use them to manage ourselves.

Support protection for roadless lands and national monument designation for the Missouri Breaks even if, as most of us, you spend the majority of your
life just working for your own family.


Don't let half-truths characterize roadless debate

Subject: Clinton gives Forest Service a break
Date: Thursday, March 1, 2000
From: Larry Campbell

Robert Mullenix's letter is a good example of the anger and irrational argument that has come to characterize opposition to the roadless initiative. He states his dislike for "people presenting half-truths" (as distinct from disliking half-truths). However, he offers an analogy regarding supposed " roadless act" restrictions on access that isn't even half-true.

He describes a situation where "you couldn't use your back or front yard ... but could only access your house via the sidewalk"? Mr. Mullenix, do you drive across your yard or up your sidewalk? I'll bet you wouldn't want to damage your lawn or endanger people on the sidewalk. I would hope that you treat public property with the same or better consideration you offer your own property.

I see that in the context of your analogy you recognize that access isn't just motorized access. There is no proposal that I am aware of that would stop access to any public land.

I don't dislike you because of your anger or your bad analogy.

Enough blame to go around

Subject: Clinton gives Forest Service a break
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 29, 2000
From: Pat Williams

I am responding to the recent letter of Robert Mullenix who wrote, rather angrily I thought, in response to my recent column about the president's moratoriums on public land.

Read the piece again, Robert, I do spread the blame around (even taking some myself). In the column I mention ""divisive legal high jinks on the left" and for good measure I threw in "irresponsible, partisan tinkering from ... special interests here at home."

Perhaps you see the events of the past 20 years differently, but I think there is enough guilt to share -- with the "state's rights ... shovels to Nevada" crowd as the prime culprits.

Biggest impact on Forest Service has been threat of environmentalists' lawsuits

Subject: Clinton gives Forest Service a break
Date: Monday, Feb. 28, 2000
From: Robert Mullenix

Clinton's really giving Forest Service a break. Give ME a break.

I hardly believe that causing polarization by users of the public forest and additional stress upon the Forest Service management is giving them a break. Let's see, Pat, if I told you that you couldn't use your back or front yard but could only access your house via the sidewalk, would that impact your life at all? Think of that the next time you step foot upon your lawn.

I believe that Pat Williams has missed the mark with this very biased view of the roadless act.

When talking of 20 years of toxic politics, not one word was mentioned about the tremendous pressure placed on the Forest Service Management by the environmental community. I would think that the following quoted paragraph would at least mention the major source of lawsuits against the Forest Service and it's management:

"Twenty years of Machiavellian machinations on the political right, divisive legal high jinks on the left, massive political funding by extractive industries that has bought not only shovels but also senators, continual agitation by off-road vehicle professionals -- during the past 20 years they have all combined to plummet the Forest Service into a management free fall."

So why, Pat, have you chosen to completely ignore the major obstacle to productive Forest Service management. I have experienced very poor management, of the local public forests, simply because those in authority appear terrified of another lawsuit from the environmental activists.

I don't even know why I take the time to acknowledge this article except that I very much dislike people presenting half-truths.


No logging on roadless lands would mean smaller taxpayer subsidy

Subject: Clinton's roadless plan
Date: Thursday, Feb. 17, 2000
From: Lance Olsen

The roadless area protection initiative has been widely -- and correctly -- regarded as a great boon for wildlife, and as a recognition that trees have
far greater value when left standing than when cut down. But there's another great advantage to it.

While it hasn't been publicized yet, the roadless area protection initiative will be a significant tax cut. Congress has never formally declared a Logging
Tax, for example, but the nation's taxpayers have been paying one anyhow. Congress has spend billions knocking down the national forests. To designate
the still-roadless wilds as federally protected wilderness would ban such costly spending regimes. This would free up money that could be applied to
America's schools, universities, Medicare, and Social Security.

Over the past couple decades, one of the major weaknesses recognized in the American economy is its lack of savings. That problem has been conspicuously
extended to its forests. Now we have a chance to give deeper meaning to the old adages about "saving" our forests. What could be more conservative than

Raise your voices in roadless debate, but keep it civil

Subject: Clinton's roadless plan
Date: Friday, Feb. 11, 2000
From: Mike Bader, executive director
Alliance for the Wild Rockies

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." These words admonish us to beware those who wrap themselves in the flag while actively working to undermine the most treasured values and ideals it represents. "To defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic," are other familiar words, part of an oath of service I took very seriously while a national park ranger at Yellowstone, even when it entailed hazardous and depressing duties such as law enforcement, firefighting, medical aid and search and rescue.

Frankly, I am disgusted when someone says I am un-American because I support protection of roadless areas and recovery of species threatened with extinction.

Recent events in our region give pause for concern. Witness the recycled Sagebrush Rebellion, which has reincarnated itself as the
"Shovel Brigade." It has reorganized itself around opposition to roadless areas, imperiled species such as the bull trout and the
concept of public land in general. It publicly uses patriotic rhetoric to advance its cause, but its track record suggests a disdain for our democratic process and an unsavory approach to civic discourse.

This band of anti-federal extremists has gained new life in recent months by using the bull trout, federal employees, the National
Forest Roadless Initiative and public lands as their whipping boys. They effectively ran Gloria Flora out of her job as a National Forest supervisor in Nevada with their threats and intimidation tactics. They portray themselves as helpless victims while harassing federal employees and seeking to privatize our public lands for their own use. They have their shills in Congress who hold "field hearings" which could easily be mistaken by the casual observer for an inquisition or a prelude to a lynching.

Closer to home, anti-grizzly bear reactionaries have used boisterous tactics to influence the public comment record on the proposal to reintroduce grizzly bears to the Salmon-Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem. These tactics have led the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to withhold the identities of persons who commented on the proposal, citing fear of violence as their excuse to sequester the public comment record away from public view.

At a recent public hearing in Kalispell on the roadless initiative, opponents loudly booed and interrupted speakers giving testimony in support of the plan, while offering little of substance to support their own views.

The message is clear: With such ugly forces at play, we can ill afford to be complacent. Moreover, this challenge will not be won by the silent majority. In our participatory democracy, if you do not speak, you will not be heard.

I've often taken issue with Forest Service policies and decisions. Can it be frustrating to deal with the Forest Service? Yes. Does
positive change occur quickly enough to suit me? Never. However, we can give credit to Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck, who has put forth the National Forest Roadless Initiative for public comment and involvement, and to Senator Max Baucus, who made a well-reasoned decision to support it.

This historic proposal holds great importance to the future of our region's fish, wildlife, clean water, wildlands and quality of life.

The National Forest Roadless Initiative could ultimately protect the remaining roadless wildlands in our region, and be part of a giant move forward in the conservation policy America is developing for the 21st Century.

Ironically, the timber industry, a major backer of the Shovel Brigade, is now orchestrating a backlash to the roadless initiative
by claiming it is an imperialistic land grab by President Clinton designed to deliberately harm rural communities. Ironic, because when Clinton first took office, he signed into law the infamous Salvage Logging Rider, commonly known as "logging without laws," described by The Washington Post as "arguably the worst piece of federal lands legislation ever."

Basically, the timber industry got a free ride on the National Forests without the threat of appeals and lawsuits from the citizen
owners of these National Forests. We got a good preview of how land management would take place under the timber industry's plan. Logging without laws was almost certainly unconstitutional, and the American public responded with a deafening "no."

President Clinton, being the astute politician that he is, heard the American people and he nodded "yes" when the Forest Service began the roadless initiative. Having learned his lesson, this time the administration asked the American people what they think. According to Forest Service sources, the roadless initiative has generated over half a million public comments, making it the largest public comment record in the history of land management. Moreover, several national opinion polls show overwhelming support for the roadless initiative.

Politicians and opinion leaders should not be swayed by the phony backlash.

Those who wave industry-purchased shovels alongside Old Glory, while at the same time shouting down majority rule, either don't understand the constitutional brilliance of the founding fathers or, worse, they don't support it. Our nation of laws, enacted through a democratic process, gives access to the public but doesn't guarantee everybody everything they want.

Moreover, our system of checks and balances with three branches of government means there will be citizen lawsuits to protect the
environment, including threatened species like the bull trout, there will be proposals from the executive branch, and congress will also make its voice heard. Its sometimes messy and inefficient but, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

The modern conservation era is barely a century old, yet it has much to offer posterity. Wise is the culture that can stay its own hand when need be. The failure to do so has been the downfall of countless civilizations and regimes. As we make the transition to a new century, there is cause for cautious optimism that we are learning from our mistakes and pushing for adoption of sound land management plans based on stewardship, a sense of obligation and respect. The National Forest Roadless Initiative could move us toward a conservation policy that will once again put America at the forefront of the world scene as a global innovation leader.

But don't take it for granted these things will happen just because it's what most folks want. When forest supervisors are run out of
their jobs due to fear of violence, public comment records are squelched due to fear of violence, and the will of the vast majority
is stymied due to fear of violence, it is clear that civility itself is on trial.

Our ongoing experiment in participatory democracy is threatened when responsible discourse, the rule of law and fair and open public process are thwarted by those willing to use intimidation and threats to achieve their unpopular goals.

We're told from early childhood that calling names gets you nowhere. Or does it? The future is watching. Raise your voice. Ultimately, much more is at stake than trees. Let the sound of freedom ring.

Montana hunt depends on its wild lands
Subject: Development of roadless land
Date: Thursday, Nov. 11, 1999
From: John Gatchell
It was a great hunt. There were few roads, plenty of game and no off-road vehicles. We hunted by day, camped under the stars at night. My son and daughter were wide-eyed when I arrived home with the hunter's harvest. The natural bounty of Montana's wild places will sustain our family for another year.
The best of Montana's hunting traditions occurs beyond the reach of roads and all-terrain vehicles, along the trails, rivers and roadless wild lands of Montana. Montanans enjoy the longest elk hunting seasons in the world. But long seasons, excellent hunting and healthy elk populations depend on maintaining roadless national forest areas -- the very lands where Sen. Conrad Burns is pressuring the federal government to build more roads for timber and all-terrain vehicle sales.
When new roads and ATVs enter previously unroaded wild lands, elk disappear. The first to go are big branch-antlered bulls. Eliminate roadless areas as Burns suggests, and Montana's five-week elk season will collapse, as it did on the Targhee National Forest, where elk seasons went from a 44 to 5 days.
Four years ago, the executive vice-president of the Montana Wood Products Association, suggested the loss of roadless elk habitats could be compensated by shortening Montana's hunting seasons. After all, he asked, " How many states have a five week rifle season?
The answer is one -- Montana.
To keep the hunt, we need to keep the roadless wilds of Montana.
Right, but still misrepresenting things
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1999
From: Lance Olsen
As R.W.Behan correctly suggests, Dan Kemmis is dead right when saying that local solutions are best. That much is indisputable, and is not being disputed.
Trouble is, a varied and conflicting collection of local solutions are available for review. Ditto for the many national approaches that have arisen in the varied and conflicted environment of Washington, D.C. A simplistic dichotomy between us and them (local vs. national) is naive and, worse, an acquiescence to and a perpetuation of the wedge politics that have fragmented this country and its various states for the past two decades.
While Dan is certainly on target in recommending local solutions, his remarks on Clinton's move misstate the situation. He came out of the chute without checking his gear, made some ill-considered remarks, offered a spurious dichotomy, a vague bogeyman called backlash, and got jumped all over for his trouble. He recognizes that his remarks were "inelegant" and, along with his statement that local situations are best, I agree with him wholeheartedly on that.
Clinton also recognizes the crucial importance of local solutions. It was, after all, pressure from local groups all across the West that finally forced him to face the roadless controversy head on. In Utah, for example, residents clearly wanted much more wilderness protection than the state's congressional delegation would give them, so where could locals turn? Similar conflict has existed between Montana's registered voters and their congressional delegation.
The reality of the matter is not at all accurately summed up in dichotomies between us and them, local and national. For every Japanese manufacturer of ORVs wanting to sell 200,000 more machines for use in the great wild woods, there are locals who loves these wonderful toys. For every Big Green outfit based in Washington, D.C., there is a local who is convinced that the Greenies in Washington are willing to sell out the wilderness.
Like any mirage, the notion of local vs. national approaches to environmental issues disappears on close inspection. The upshot is that Kemmis and Craig are right, and that they misrepresent the situation nonetheless.
Kemmis is dead right
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Monday, Nov. 8, 1999
From: R.W. Behan, Lopez Island, Washington

The intelligent criticisms of Dad Kemmis' piece about Clinton's roadless plan are refreshingly passionate and articulate, and I commend the authors. But I think many of them miss the point of Kemmis' argument.

Localized decision-making is not only more appropriate for communities -- which, it can't be helped, is indeed the pony that the wise-users love to ride. But it is also far more likely to protect the sustainability of the local physical environment -- which seems often to be of no concern at all to those same wise-users.
This is true because communities in the West are no longer so thoroughly dominated by extractive industries. Missoula is no longer a mill town. Bozeman is no longer a cow town. There are sizable and formidable environmental groups in both, and they have accomplished much, as one of the critics observed. The Rattlesnake Wilderness was not dreamed up by a besmirched and dishonored president worried sick about his legacy, or booming the candidacy of his phony-environmentalist VP: It was done by localized initiative and competent politicking by local people who were close to and knew about the land.
It is not the substance of the proposed roadless policy that bothers Kemmis, and he makes that abundantly clear. It is the process: The notion that some "national interest" can be perceived only in Washington
D.C., and the assumption that federal lands decisions must originate there. On the surface that reasoning is plausible, but what it obscures is the National Cattleman's Association or the forest industry's trade
association teaming with Republican majorities to plunder the wealth of the federal lands.
That so much of the Rocky Mountain West is overcut and overgrazed is not the result of localized decision-making, but the consequence of powerful lobbies in Washington making "wholesale" policy for every "retail" situation throughout the region. Never mind that Clinton's move is the most transparent, cynical, and hypocritical pandering, designed to displace the memory of his impeachment. Suppose instead he is as innocent and wholesome as a choirboy, and cares deeply for the values of wilderness. This roadless plan has about as much chance of surviving as national health care, another Clinton initiative (proposed and pursued with far more integrity). Industry lobbies, their PAC money, and their purchased politicians (excepting John McCain, perhaps) are still riding tall in the saddle.
Yes, Honda, Polaris, and Kawasaki are enemies of quality environments, and if you try to take them on at the national level, Japan and Canada will haul you before the World Trade Organization tribunal for imposing "non-tariff barriers" to free trade.
I live in San Juan County, made up of a number of small islands and a whole lot of saltwater. Honda, Polaris, and Kawasaki showed up here as jet skis, not ATVs, but we took them on locally and won. A county ordinance prohibits their use anywhere in the county's waters. (We may yet hear from the WTO, of course: those big corporations are patient and rich.)
So for now, in the Rocky Mountain West, accept Kemmis' challenge. Think hard, but more importantly think, to use Carlos Castaneda's term, in new categories. Federal governance has become a self-interested and self-sustaining industry, far more obsessed with its own continuity than with the general public welfare, and hugely indifferent to the well being of localized communities. It will go where the money is, and nation-state solutions will always reflect the highest bidder.
If you do think hard and in new ways, I believe you'll see that Kemmis is dead right.
Protection is still welcome, from wherever it comes
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Monday, Nov. 8, 1999
From: Larry Campbell
Like I said, having our head in the clouds probably does go with the territory here in Big Sky Country. And it is a good thing, when we keep our feet on the ground. The long view from that vantage point is as rare as it is valuable.

I certainly appreciate Kemmis' levelheaded response to my shoot from the lip comment. Yahoo for a spirited and hospitable Western debate.

I will stick by my statement that environmental protection is just as effective whether "from Montana, or Washington D C, or from aliens." Protection is protection. It is wonderful when environmental protection does come homegrown, but, like food, if homegrown is not available, you should take what you can get, even if it is imported. The results of going without any are similarly permanent in both cases. Maybe if we could eliminate the imported destructive forces, I might be able to see the wisdom of foregoing the imported protections, but that isn't the real world as it stands -- or falls.

Until such time as we locals and our politicians become enlightened enough to protect the ecological foundation of life in the West, human and otherwise, I will be open to help from any quarter. Losses tend to be permanent and we can't afford to allow destruction while the householders sleep. That said, it is critical to wake ourselves up. Public education of the folks who live in the affected environment is crucial.
Saving Western landscape is worth a little dissent
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Friday, Nov. 5, 1999
From: Dan Kemmis, director, O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
As Director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, which is home base for Headwaters News, I've appreciated the recent outpouring of letters to the Headwaters editor about the Clinton roadless area initiative. A large part of Headwaters' purpose is to provide a forum for Westerners to discuss issues of vital Western concern -- and this is certainly one of them.

While my Writers on the Range opinion piece was an inelegant effort to express my own views on this subject, it was also an effort to encourage dialogue of a slightly different kind than we sometimes encounter on these natural resource and public lands issues. In those terms, I think the discussion both in letters to the Headwaters editor and elsewhere on the site has been of a very high order. Ed Marston's Writers on the Range editorial was exceptionally thoughtful. I still want to (and will) challenge Ed's conclusion, but at least he's put the issue of sovereignty into focus -- the issue of how Western self-determination can and will relate to national sovereignty.

I also thought George Ochenski's letter was very helpful in terms of pointing out how off-road vehicles have become the newest, most potent threat to wild back country. What I don't appreciate quite as much is George's conclusion that it's time for Kemmis to leave the ivory tower, or Larry Campbell's "head in the clouds" shot. I'll be glad to defend my environmental record as an elected official for nearly two decades in Montana, but I'll also defend my unshaken belief that sound thinking -- even thinking what your friends wish you weren't thinking -- is an important part of how we put ourselves in the best position to protect places that matter to us.

In those terms, I'm going to say that I find Senator Craig's Denver Post editorial this last Monday to be a very thoughtful and even wise contribution to the discussion. I don't like to have to say that. I'd much rather believe that Larry Craig is just wrong all the time. In fact, he's wrong much of the time, but when he says that "his" people -- ranchers and loggers and other resource users -- elected to hang onto their previous vision of the world in the '80s, and so lost their adaptiveness, and that now many national environmental groups are doing the same in resisting local consensus-based efforts, he's just plain right.
He's a lot more right than Larry Campbell is when he says that environmental protection is just as effective no matter where it comes from, whether "from Montana or Washington, D.C., or from aliens." That's just not true, Larry. There's a reason that "community-based conservation" has become such a powerful movement, and it's an environmental reason: It's because ecosystems are always going to be better and more sustainably cared for when the people who inhabit them feel that they are having a real say in their management.

My concern about the continued reliance of environmentalists on national solutions is that it continues to make so many Westerners feel as if they don't have that kind of control over the places they inhabit. And that is why the West continues to elect so many of what George Ochenski calls "outmoded, corporate stooge politicians." I don't like them any better than you do, George. But frankly, Larry Craig is right -- one reason they're so firmly in power in the West is because, outmoded as their narrow ideology so often is, it's more responsive to Westerners' desire for self-determination than the truly outmoded nation-state approach of so many environmentalists.
Or so I believe, and believe pretty strongly, and will probably continue to say in one forum or another. I know it feels better for all the "good guys" to sing from one sheet of music. But I'm convinced that protecting Western landscapes is going to take all the intelligence we can possibly muster, and that a little counterpoint now and then might keep us from falling into the trap Senator Craig (of all people) has warned us about.
What may come can't be worse than what's already been
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Friday, Oct. 29, 1999
From: Lance Olsen
I agree with Dan Kemmis that environmentalists were too quick to praise President Clinton's promise to protect 40 million acres of roadless America. But I think Dan made the same mistake they did. Neither he nor the environmentalists he criticizes seemed to understand how much showmanship Clinton applied to his press conference, and how little substance.
Clinton is not going to be imitating Teddy Roosevelt. This is no unilateral presidential proclamation. All Clinton has done is ask the Forest Service to start the NEPA process, wherein the public is openly invited to shape the decision about the 40 million acres. This public process, open to all and any Americans, is subject to public reviews of Environmental Impact Statements, over a period of many months. That's democracy, and that's good, but it is hardly the kind of thing that Dan Kemmis should be comparing to Teddy Roosevelt's bolder move of days gone by. And it's nothing that environmentalists can declare as a wonderful victory for wilderness.
But I have to be modest in saying all this, because Dan says that Clinton's move is just another example of outsiders pushing environmental protection down the throats of local interests. Well, my maternal great-grandparents were married in Great Falls, but not until 1892, a mere 107 years ago. And I wasn't born until 1943, so I'm also just a late arrival on the Montana scene, and I can't speak for the locals -- or at least not the ones that Dan now represents so very righteously.
But, like many others born in Montana, I have welcomed every sincere effort to save whatever wild, free country this state has left. I remember a Forest Service memo that recorded a meeting in which one of the Forest Service's own people said of the Montana woods that "We sure skinned a lot of country." And they skinned it over the strong and energetic objections of locals from right here in Montana.
The most curious thing about Dan's commentary is that he warns us to shrink in fear of some unexplained "backlash" from the industries that have dominated the forests for 25 and more years, if Clinton's shallow showmanship does turn serious. I have heard of this "backlash" fear before, but no one has ever laid it all out for me. Should I be afraid to look under my bed? Will the industries encourage their minions to toss bombs at us? Will the grocery stores fire all their people and close their stores in retaliation for saving what's left of the wild open spaces?
When I look around at the once-wild forests, or at the once-wild streams that now kill their own fish, thanks to logging that was taken to extremes, I can't see where any backlash can possibly do any more harm than what the industries have been doing already. It's not the backlash that worries me; it's the forelash.
Kemmis' head in the clouds
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Friday, Oct. 29, 1999
From: Larry Campbell

Maybe having your head in the clouds goes with the territory in Big Sky Country, but most of us are forced by the necessities of reality to keep our feet on the ground. Dan Kemmis has lost touch.
Kemmis ignores the fact that the threats and actual damage to Montana's roadless areas comes primarily from out of state. And why shouldn't out-of-state interested parties come to the aid of Montana roadless protection advocates and our roadless areas? Has the American West become so Balkanized that we are not open to the will of the nationwide owners of National Forests in Montana?

And to say outside help harms the ecology is misplaced philosophical b.s. Whatever helps to protect roadless areas here from development will protect the health of our ecosystems. If it comes from Montana or Washington, D.C., or from aliens the ecological effects would be the same.
I believe Kemmis confuses political theory with biological reality. It is unfortunate to see such fuzzy thinking given such wide distribution.
Roadless protection is what Westerners want, too
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Thursday, Oct. 28, 1999
From: Bob Clark, outreach director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies
I just read a recent article written by Dan Kemmis about the roadless area policy that the Forest Service will begin working on at the request of President Clinton. If I had not seen Dan Kemmis's name attached to the text I would have sworn it was written by a western Republican.
Kemmis implies that he resents people from "afar" directing the management of federal public land within the boundaries of Western states. This East vs. West rhetoric is a bunch of bull. America is one nation under God. When veterans fought in WWI, WWII and Vietnam to secure freedom for the whole country did it matter to Kemmis that many of those people came from New York or Illinois? Or when these "Easterners" pay taxes (which they do pay the bulk of) to help subsidize
Westerners' romantic mythical lifestyle, do the Westerners throw the checks from D.C. in the garbage?
Now Kemmis wants to tell them to mind their own business. Well, these federal public lands are their business. Driving a national divisive wedge into this issue is an antiquated argument that is used by the outdated, misinformed, good-ole-boy politicians. For the sake of argument, how do "Westerners" feel about this issue? A recent poll conducted by the Mellman Group Inc. concludes that 57% of people living in the West believe not enough of the nation's forest were protected from commercial development. Nationwide, the figure goes to 63% of people supporting more wilderness. How is this being stuffed down the throat of Westerners when most of us, including you, agree with protecting the last roadless areas?
The resistance comes from the extractive industries who resent that the federal gravy train, after 100 years, is finally slowing down. This push to protect wild roadless areas is homegrown and has been
brought about because of the wishes of a vast majority of American citizens who support the concept that "humans do not need to alter, tame, and develop every last inch of this country."
The people are leading.

Kemmis panders to Wise Use
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Thursday, Oct. 28, 1999
From: John Adams
In a speech to the State Bankers Association of Washington, U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Burk argued: "The opinion seems to prevail in the East that the West is opposed to the conservation of natural resources. ... The people of the West believe in forest reservation based upon common sense and scientific principles. ... They do not believe in hoarding wilderness. They do not believe in the sentimental fad that trees are entitled to more consideration than human beings. ... The people of today have a right to share in the blessings of nature."
Burk made that speech in 1910, but Conrad Burns could well have plagiarized it last year. It is part of a time-honored tactic by exploitative business interests to demonize conservation efforts (like the reservation or protection of national forests) as something that is unwanted by Westerners, and which is forced on us by the East. It's an important tactical step, because it allows the Wise Use movement and extractive industries to identify conservation with outsiders. In essence, Wise Use sets up this equation: "If it's conservation, it's from the East; if it exploits public lands, it's what we Westerners want."
And thus, for many Montanans, "environmentalist" is a dirty word synonymous with "outsider," and conservation efforts, from Clinton's roadless initiative to I-122, are dismissed without regard for their merits.

Environmentalists need to challenge this false representation of local views and federal decision-making. Innumerable Montanans have stood up to fight roads in the Big Hole, logging in roadless areas of the Kootenai, stop strip mining in eastern Montana, the proposed damn on the Yellowstone at Livingston, to pass the Wilderness Act, to designate the first citizen-proposed wilderness area in the nation, to protect Montana's roadless wildlands. ... Say these names with me: Murray, Metcalf, Mansfield, Milner, Bolle, Baldwin, Battin, Tawney, Craighead, Posewitz, Weydemeyer ...
In contrast, outside interests from the Copper Kings to Kawasaki have long stuffed exploitation of our public lands for outsiders' profit down the West's throat. In his recent editorial, Dan Kemmis makes a nod at local conservationists, but then, instead of challenging the Wise Use mythrepresentation of Montanans' relationship to federal conservation efforts, he panders to it by
reiterating the old "conservation gets stuffed down the West's throat and has since 1897" line. His goal, as I understand it, is to shift the location of decision-making about federal lands from the federal government to local collaborative processes. He believes that shifting the location of
decision-making will result in stronger conservation decisions.

Despite my belief that the federal government does much to harm Montana conservation efforts, I have very grave reservations about turning any resource owned by all 250 million Americans over to a small group of locals, equally grave reservations about how representative and fair local
collaboratives are, and equally grave reservations about the results of collaboratives. But I welcome dialogue about these issues.

What I don't welcome is Kemmis' promotion of a Wise Use myth to make his case. In the short term, columns like those he offered harm one of the few real opportunities for protection of wildland resources we've seen in recent years (the Clinton initiative). In the long term, he is stigmatizing and undermining the very conservation ethic that he believes would produce sound
local decisions.

Mr. Kemmis, please stop stealing Mr. Burk's (and Mr. Burn's) lines. Make your argument about local control on its own merits, not by preying on the ignorance and parroting the propaganda produced by the "industry-financed demagoguery" you acknowledge. Your present strategy will undermine local efforts to gain real protection for Montana's resources today, as well as your own vision of local conservation in the future.
Kemmis is out of touch with the real nemesis
Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
From: George Ochenski; Helena, Mont.
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1999

Reading Dan Kemmis' thoughts about the political and ecological drawbacks of Clinton's roadless areas preservation proposal, it seems old Dan is more than a bit out of touch with what is actually going on out in the real world (as opposed to the world of "theoretical politics") these days.

While Kemmis suggests we wait for a "western" solution, there is a huge press by motorized recreationists and the industries that supply their "toys" to penetrate every possible roadless area (including already established wilderness areas) with "user created" roads.

If you don't believe it, try this quote from Steve Janes, publisher of SnoWest Magazine in the October '99 issue: "After spending a day on the ski hill, we decided the best place to find undisturbed powder was to go out in the countryside and get down to some serious boondocking. Keep in mind that boondocking in eastern Canada is nothing like boondocking in western U.S. First of all, every time you leave a groomed trail in Quebec you're probably either riding on private land or government land that has restricted use. In the four days of riding in Quebec, we estimate that we violated around 652 laws or regulations. But since our crew's motto was 'if you can't break parts, break laws,' we acted naive and 'wandered' off the groomed trails..."

If you haven't picked up a copy of an ATV, snowmobile, dirt bike or four-wheeler magazine lately, go get one. You will be shocked to see page after page of ads showing vehicles plowing through axle-deep mud, crossing streams, tearing up hillsides and flying through snowy wildlands at high speeds. What the ads do, of course, is pump up the testosterone of their motorhead adherents, who use machines to get them where they want to go in the fastest way possible ... regardless of the impacts on lands, waters, or other recreational users.

Studies routinely show that when motorized users and nonmotorized users share a trail, inevitably the nonmotorized users seek other places and abandon their trails to the clouds of blue smoke and noise that accompany virtually every form of motorized recreation. What the ads don't show is the trail of disaster left behind -- eroded hillsides, sedimented streams, fragmented wildlife habitat and noxious weeds.

It's been some time since Dan was in the Montana Legislature and, from the sounds of the column, also some time since he has been in Montana's backcountry. The sad fact is, the funding provided by gas tax diversions for "off-road" uses is fueling a continuing effort by Montana's own Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to turn traditional trails into two-track "troads" for motorized use. The Forest Service and BLM meanwhile, have neither the budget nor personnel to police the existing "boundaries" of roadless lands.

As one who has actually gone into the mountains to deconstruct illegally built trails into prime wildlife sanctuaries, I am familiar with how easy it is for these folks to simply go where they want -- all it takes is a chain saw and a lack of respect for public resources held in common. Unfortunately for Montana, once the damage is done options for "consensus" solutions are often moot. Neither the Forest Service nor the BLM have the budget nor the ability to control existing noxious weed infestations, let alone those likely to spring up in roadless areas invaded by outlaw ATVs.

Similarly, when the last wildlife sanctuaries are fragmented by illegal troads, where will the elk, wolverines, mountain goats and sheep find safety? When the only limits are how much horsepower you can cram onto an ATV or snowmobile frame, virtually no place in Montana will be "off limits" to the motorized plague.

While Kemmis laments that Washington-based decision-making is outmoded, his reference to timber and mining interests as the main opponents to roadless area policies exhibits a startling lack of comprehension about today's debate. Mining and timber are yesterday's opponents, Dan. Today's opponents are Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition who, with their Congressional supporters, are making a stink in DC as well as the backcountry over Clinton's move.

If we took Dan's advice and waited for a western solution to roadless area preservation, the sad truth is that there would be very little left to save by the time the West's outmoded, corporate stooge politicians decided to act. Don't believe it? When was the last time Racicot, Burns or Hill made a move to save even a tiny slice of Montana? Don't struggle with your memory, the answer is "Never."

Time for Kemmis to leave the ivory tower and get his feet back on the ground. Either that, or quit writing edicts that so clearly have little or no basis in Montana's modern reality.

Note: Readers seeking a more updated view than Kemmis' may wish to read my article "No Quiet on the Western Front - the Battle for Quiet Trails and Waters" in the May/June '99 issue of Montana Magazine, or visit their website at

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Re: Central City students take on gambling from the Denver Post, 3/21/99, posted on Headwaters News in-depth section the week of 3/22/99:

Re: Calgary to close and build schools (Calgary Sun 5/7)

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Subject: Parks Wilderness Designation
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 13:21:22 -0400
From: Travis Williams
To: <>
In reference to the article on new wilderness being proposed by the Clinton
Administration in our National Parks, this is something that we desperately
need more of. In fact, the five million acres being proposed for wilderness
in our National Parks is long overdue, as these pristine reaches are limited
to hiking, canoeing, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
For Clark Collins of the Blue Ribbon Coalition to make statements like, "We
don't feel that any more lands would be justified to be designated," and,
"If you want these areas to be able to accommodate recreationists, it's a
bad idea," the height of absurdity is reached. What recreationists does he
refer to? Having snowmobiles and four wheelers smashing through our pristine
areas, that's just what we need. I think we have seen more than enough of
that already. It would seem that the recreationists listed in the first
paragraph are more than adequate for our pristine areas, and those that will
receive permanent protection. Today one is hard pressed to get away from
vehicle noise and tracks crossing our public lands, and now the Blue Ribbon
Coalition is quibbling about lack of access natural areas in our national
parks. What next?
In addition to the excellent potential of new wilderness in National Parks,
there are many other areas, on both BLM and Forest Service land, that are
ripe for protection. Judging from the comments of Mr. Collins, it would seem
we should act quickly before these pristine, untrammeled lands become quite
trammeled and degraded, and our remaining beautiful areas are laced with
exhaust and noise with the resulting destruction of habitat. If we decide
not to act, we may loose those precious remaining natural areas, forever.
It would seem we have seen enough of our landscape destroyed by resource
extraction and unfettered access by vehicles of all types. Let us use this
moment to build momentum for additional protection, and let those better
suited for the pavement, stay there.
Travis Williams
Re: Pat Williams commentary: Montana needs more wilderness
Subject: Pat on wilderness
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999 12:21:09 -0600
From: Lance Olsen
Pat Williams urges protection for Montana wilderness. But he is not
thinking of wilderness for its own sake, and for the great role it plays in
attracting wealth to Montana and Montanans. Instead, Pat says we must pass
a wilderness bill in order to let the mining, oil-gas, and timber
industries some basis for planning.
When Pat offered a wilderness bill of his several years ago, he did so
after polling registered voters in the state, about half of whom told him
that they wanted the majority or all roadless acreage kept as wilderness.
About 42 percent wanted the majority of the roadless country protected, and
about 7 percent wanted all of it protected. Pat's pollsters ran the poll
twice, to test its validity. The strong support for protecting the majority
or even all roadless acreage held up both times.
But Pat did not offer to protect the majority or all of Montana's 6 million
acres of roadless wild lands. Instead, the bill he offered would have
protected only about a quarter of those lands, about 1.5 million acres. At
that time, Pat explained to the press that, if the mining industry objected
to acreage proposed for his bill, he kicked that acreage out. He said that
if the oil-gas, logging, or motorsports industries objected to his
protecting any acreage, he threw that out, too.
Now he is at it, again, saying that those same industries need clarity, for
planning. They can get plenty of clarity, however, from Pat's own polls.
And from other polls, including Forest Service polls throughout the region,
showing that strong majorities say that the Forest Service has already gone
too far pleasing these industries. Pat is allied with industry interests,
and has parted way with the moderate people in this region. Because he is
otherwise probably one of the region's most honorable politicians, this
situation is an odd one, but it is a position he has maintained for several
Of course, there is actually a Montana wilderness bill in the hopper,
although Pat joins the heavy industries in opposing it. This is the
Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), which will protect all
roadless Forest Service acreage in Montana and the region. NREPA had no
support at all when it first came to public attention, but it quickly had
the support of about a third of Montana after it became known, and is still
picking up support each time the Forest Service jeopardizes another
roadless area.
NREPA will offer us all the security we need for long term planning, and
will keep big wilderness as a big part of the economic assets we need for a
vital economic future. Heavy industry already has plenty of opportunity
where it has already had its way on our landscape.
Lance Olsen
Glendive, Montana

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2000 Wildfires

We must assume responsibility for environmental damage

Date: Monday, Aug. 28, 2000
From: Stuart F. Lewin

Some folks blame the current fires and water shortages on lack of timber harvests and reservoir building caused by environmental extremists.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Of the 12 largest fires burning today in Montana, three out of four are in roaded, logged and developed areas. Of the five most destructive --defined as fires which have destroyed homes and other structures-- all are in roaded, developed and/or logged areas. The 12 largest fires have been ignited by wheat harvesting, ATV exhaust, Plum Creek logging operations, rural homeowners, mining claims and lightning.

We are unable to cleanup past mining waste. A state agency reports high concentration of mercury in Missouri River fish.

Human population burgeons. Demands on the planet's fragile environment expand. And this hot summer is the first in 30,000,000 years that there is no
ice at the North Pole.

Yet we want to ride OHVs, build roads and homes in the back-country or on the edge of rivers and streams, cut what's left of our virgin forests, build reservoirs and new irrigation projects such as the Sunny Brook Colony proposal on the Marias, all like the cowboy who recently dragged his sick horse to death behind his trailer -- as if what we do does not matter. And we willing blame others for problems caused by our own uses and abuses.

Vice-presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman's words rang out to me during the Democratic Convention when he said: "The new frontier lies within each of us"

My daughter, Rachel lives and works as a nurse in New York City for children with AIDS. I had written her complaining about our politicians' inability to commit to protecting the fragile environment in which we live, and she replied:

"Papa, I just read your e-mail to me and enjoyed hearing about your activities and political/environmental concerns. I agree that our politicians have
failed to instill the value of environmental preservation in the American people; however, it is an obligation that we, as a community of people sharing the
common experience of an environmentally sustained existence, must insist is as important an issue as health insurance and federal aid. It must be equated in value and priority as an indispensable factor in establishing a sustainable future for ourselves as human beings.

"Unfortunately, most people do not realize that the cash money that frequently blinds their awareness to greater issues, was first a tree..."

Salvage sales of burned timber no bargain for the ecosystem

Subject:Charred trees will be New Mexico's biggest timber sale.
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2000
From: George Wuerthner,
Eugene, Ore.

The proposal by the Forest Service to salvage log recently burned areas of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains demonstrates its pro-timber industry bias once again. I wrote a book about the Yellowstone fires, have observed the effects of many other fires in the West and have watched the effects of forest recovery. Based on what has happened in Yellowstone and elsewhere, there is no evidence that removing trees hastens post-fire recovery. Indeed logging hinders it.

Burnt trees, even those without branches, provide shade for new tree seedlings. The snags also provide some minimum cover for wildlife, reducing vulnerability to hunting. The snags also reduce wind and thus provide some positive thermal cover for wildlife in winter.

Removal of burnt trees removes snags that are essential for cavity-nesting birds. Typically more than 25 percent of the bird species found in the West are cavity-dependent. Mammals like bats and squirrels also depend upon cavities. When the snags fall on the ground, they provide hiding cover for numerous insects and small mammals like voles and even pine marten.

Snags falling into creeks provide essential habitat for aquatic insects and fisheries, and help to stabilize banks. Down logs, especially if they fall across the slope, act as mini erosional check dams. The down woody debris releases nutrients slowly into the soil and water as they decompose over decades. All of these benefits are lost when trees are removed through logging operations.

Furthermore, the impacts of logging equipment on the landscape must be considered as well. Logging trucks and skidders compact soils, reducing water infiltration. The disturbance breaks up crusts that develop after fires and protects the soil from erosion. Logging equipment and roads also create vectors of disturbed soil that is a natural seedbed for weeds, and the equipment often carries weeds. Studies have demonstrated that logging roads, even closed logging roads, provide easier access for ORVs and even hikers--often negatively affecting hunted wildlife species.

These are only a few of the multiple impacts that results from salvage logging. Selling timber at bargain basement prices and then introducing a host of new ecological impacts makes for poor public policy. The Forest Service is playing upon people's emotions and generally poorly informed positions about fires as an excuse to do more logging instead of allowing the burned areas to recover.

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Politics is personal, or certainly should be

Subject: It's politicians who meddle in forest management.
Date: Wednesday, March 7
From: Dave Skinner,
Whitefish, Mont.

Former Congressman Williams is absolutely correct in defining my previous missive as a "blunt personal attack." See, in politics, we citizens aren't able to micromanage every decision or vote or negotiation or compromise. Instead, we have to try to take a personal measure of those who wish to represent us (like we were actually ready to vote for a woman for Governor) vote for with the best "person" for the job, and hope to hell we guessed right.

As Williams suggested, I revisited his Rehberg column. No matter how carefully, diplomatically, politically dialecticized the sentence structure, Williams characterized Rehberg -- former Senate chief of staff, Montana lieutenant governor, etc. -- as a close-minded political naif. That it was said nicely makes no difference ... It was still a bombshell tossed from afar, just like most of the political bombs dropped on Montanans and other Western citizens from out-of-state courtrooms, faraway federal bureaucrats, rich social engineers and their foundations, big-city newspaper editorial boards, urban-based Green organizations, and mercenary corporate tycoons.

I just want to bring up a quick personal example related to the "Shovels to Nevada Brigade" -- actually the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade -- organized by Eureka lumberman Jim Hurst. One of our local enviros approached the Montana Wilderness Association about having Hurst meet with the MWA board. Jim told me that MWA turned the proposal down because actually having face time with Jim would make him harder to "demonize."

Oh man, that's just sick -- but it explains why Greens are so touchy about "personalizing" these issues.

Mr. Williams, any time you are ready for coffee. ... I promise to leave all my handguns at home..

Warnings weren't heard

Subject: It's politicians who meddle in forest management.
Date: Wednesday, March 7
From: Lance Olsen

My criticism of Pat Williams may have indeed been off the mark.  I was disappointed in him for not making a warning that he says he made.  Well, in that case, he's right that I don't remember it. Somehow, in the midst of the logging boom that took the state and region, with the many headlines that followed, I missed his warning. And, for that, I owe him an apology.

I also owe him a phone call, to ask about getting hold of the warning(s) he issued, because I'm still very curious about how it came about that his and similar warnings were ignored in the passions of a logging boom that wrought multiple abuse for Montana all the way from its workers to its wildlife.

Selective facts, misinterpretation no basis for attack

Subject: It's politicians who meddle in forest management.
Date: Tuesday, March 6
From: Pat Williams

I suppose it is incumbent upon me to defend myself against the blunt personal attack in the recent letter from Dave Skinner of Whitefish and a much lesser charge by Lance Olsen.

Mr. Skinner, I assume, is on the right, politically. At least one can infer from his angry rhetoric about "leftist Greens" that he isn't part of any political liberal wing. It is standard stuff for the Right to personify their troubles and relieve their anger with personal attacks on those with whom they disagree. The most obvious example is their drumbeat of eight years of sharp personal invective toward former President Clinton, but some of us lesser lights have also grown used to their angry rhetoric and mean personal attacts.

My column contained a simple suggestion made to incoming Congressman, my friend, Dennis Rehberg of Montana and was emphatically not an "evisceration" of him., as Mr. Skinner claimed it to be. I suggest that readers get the column and read it again; Skinner's charges are ludicrous on their face.

Mr. Skinner, three times, refers to me as "elder statesman" and then makes light of the phrase. I'm not, nor do I try to be, an elder statesman. I like Harry Truman's definition of that phrase: "Elder statesmen are nothing more than dead politicians." I didn't leave my position as Montana's congressman to return to this state and hide out in the hopes of being remembered for my polite silence. It may take some time for the Right to get used to it but I'm a very live politician who is running neither for nor from anything.

Mr. Skinner, in his petulance, couldn't resist mentioning that indeed I had left Congress and that he is "one of many Montanans glad for it." I have no trouble with that so long as he remembers one other thing: Montanans always knew where I stood on the issues , particularly the critical issue of public land management . They elected and re-elected this conservationist, this environmentalist, if Skinner prefers, to the U.S. House of Representatives more consecutive times then any other Montanan in our state's history , often by handsome margins.

Compared to Mr. Skinner, Lance Olsen's criticism of my congressional policy is very mild, complaining only that I did not "step forward" to warn about the glut of tree harvesting ongoing in the 1980s and its long term ramifications to our timber workers . I did indeed make those warnings. I'm sure Mr. Olsen doesn't remember my warnings but they were there nonetheless. Some people apparently live in a forest in which trees don't fall unless they personally hear them topple.

Economics and competition dictate shakeout of Montana timber industry

Subject: It's politicians who meddle in forest management.
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 28
From: Lance Olsen

It is interesting that neither Pat Williams nor Dave Skinner stared in the face of the financial realities that have been governing the timber trade in the past twenty years. Williams focussed on Denny Rehberg, and Skinner focussed on Williams. Wall Street's view is more instructive than Williams' or Skinner's.

A look at the financial side offers lots more support to Williams than to either Rehberg or Skinner, although Skinner's worry about "helpless Montanans" does ring true. Fact is, the timber industry wants to sell its goods at a higher price to the consumer. To do that, the industry has been gaining concentrated control that eliminates competitors, so that consumers can't shop around for lower prices.

From Wall Street's point of view, the logging and paper companies actually "need" to buy up competitors, and need to do that just to shut down competitors' mills. As the mills are shuttered, people all across our region lose their jobs, kingpins of the industry lock up control over supply, and we flirt with monopoly control. That's when we all become vulnerable to higher prices.

Ordinary Montanans working in the timber industry have indeed been left helpless, largely because no one has been willing to tell them what has been going on in their industry, and no politician including Pat stepped forward to warn them when the logging boom began in the 1980s. Instead, record levels of timber flowed off the mountains, into the mills, and kept prices low enough to starve the smallest competitors. Now, the larger surviving competitors are themselves disappearing fast in merger and buyout that iskilling the last of the competition, and handing price control to the major corporate players.

From Wall Street's point of view, the past twenty years of logging boom have been lousy business, just because there were too many mills. With too many mills, prices (and therefore profits) were kept down and shareholders, including pension funds and insurance companies, couldn't make big money. Now that's changing, but Skinner does little to help Montanans understand what's happened to us.

Control by small, out-of-state environmental groups is not local

Subject: It's politicians who meddle in forest management.
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 27
From: Dave Skinner
Whitefish, Mont.

Pat's attack column on (Montana Conressman Dennis) Rehberg's forum was completely uncalled for, yet true to form for Williams. I thought it was pretty gutless to claim "We wish [Rehberg] well" and then eviscerate the man like he's some kind of naif in need of guidance from the benevolent elder statesman.

Well, elder statesman is often used euphemistically.

It may come as a shock to Williams, but Montanans, despite the diligent efforts of the press to prevent it, have just as much access to relevant information as he and are just as capable of keeping an open mind as Williams ever was. Furthermore, most of us are capable of deciding for ourselves what course of action to take.

Had our esteemed elder statesman (another euphemism) had the guts to show up for the forum and "listen with an open mind," he might have understood that many Montanans aren't about to be herded in the direction he and his foundationally funded elitist Green and leftie cronies want.

Nor are many credulous enough to unquestioningly believe the saw about "local control." The local control Williams refer to is that of two-and-three person environmental "grassroots organizations" tapped into not only the foundational money train (and the strings attached by grantmakers in their corporate boardrooms) but the NEPA provisions (written by Sierra Club lawyers and lobbyists) mandating no bonding and payment for upheld appeals.

These laws have rendered the real "average local citizens" of Montana completely helpless before an avalanche of stupid lawsuits and the threat of fire and disease. Those who lack a law degree, foundation grants and/or a trust fund are completely irrelevant to the process that Williams terms "local control," yet they are the ones who suffer the consequences.

We're talking outside and taxpayer-funded -- not average-local-citizen -- Green professionals who have no stake in the success of the state. Their meal ticket lies elsewhere.

All Williams' maunderings manage to accomplish is reminding us why he's no longer a congressman from Montana, and I am merely one of many Montanans damned glad for it.

Montana environmental law is cost-benefit analysis industry should love

Subject: Industry takes aim at key Montana environmental law.
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 30
From: Lance Olsen

The Montana Environmental Policy Act is a nationally signficant tribute to state's rights and local control. Patterned somewhat after the less-backboned National Environmental Policy Act, MEPA is of substantial importance because it requires that government agencies put all the cards on the table for all to see.

The purpose of making agencies do this is to eliminate or at least reduce the prospect that an agency might be tempted or pressured into sneaking something past the public's attention. In the language of law, this is called "disclosure." In the world of investments, where shareholders also seek the right to know, it's also referred to in terms of "transparency," and widely regarded as a basic condition of a legitimate company or a legitimate market.

The economic value of transparency is pretty transparent in itself. For example, taxpayers and investors both need to know if some action will end up costing them money in the future, as when a logging road fails and requires costly cleanup. Under MEPA, then, any state agency about to approve another logging road would have to put all the cards on the table, and "disclose" the likely costs.

It is comic to see industry seeking change of MEPA. Over and over again, industry heads, sympathetic politicians, and chamber of commerce spokespersons have been singing the virtue of cost-benefit analyses in environmental controversies. If they meant what they've said about the importance of doing cost-benefit analyses, they'd be bristling in anger at any proposed changes. But maybe they've discovered the curse of getting what they wished for.

It's true; D.C. residents shorted on representation

Subject: One congressman not enough for Montana
Date: Tuesday, Jan.. 9
From: Pat Williams
O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

Carl Bergman, in his response to my letter about us in Montana having only one member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has it exactly right. The residents of Washington, D.C. are, in fact, the most under-represented citizens in the entire United States.

And as long as the political demagogs are loose to condemn everything and anything federal and related to D.C. that sorry condition will not

Certainly, the solution to the D.C. voting problem is not simple. Should it become a part of Virginia? Their citizens seem to reject that solution. Same thing with Marylanders.

Should D.C. become it's own state? There seems to be significant objection to that across the country. Thus, as with many problems of equity, the fix isn't easy. However, one should absolutely be found.

Having half a million American, taxpaying citizens with no vote in their own Congress is an outrage against our republic. Thanks, Carl Bergman for setting me, and perhaps a few others , straight on that one.

D.C. residents not represented at all

Subject: One congressman not enough for Montana
Date: Monday, Jan.. 8
From: Carl Bergman
Washington, D.C.

Pat Williams makes a strong case for either changing the congressional apportionment formula so Montanans aren't underrepresented, or increasing the size of the House. However, regardless of Montana's plight, I and 590,000 other Americans can claim that, in his words, "No people in America are as numerically underrepresented as are we."

This is not to say that he has not made a case. I know exactly what he means. In the '60s, I lived in Georgia's 5th District, the second largest in the country. Only Dallas had it worse. The 5th was Atlanta's and the antiurban legislature had no desire to give us fair representation. The Supreme Court's one-person, one-vote rulings outlawed their rigged plan, and we went from one House district to two.

However, there is something much worse than under-representation: non-representation. Half-a-million, full tax-paying District of Columbia citizens have no vote in the House or Senate. If you think Congress foots our bill, guess again; we not only pay all federal taxes, but also have high local income, property and sales taxes. There used to be a federal payment to D.C. to cover the cos, but it's gone. Nevertheless, every penny of our locally raised money must pass congressional and presidential muster. How would you like it if your school budget had to go through the White House to get to the third grade? Ours does.

Why don't I leave? Same reason Montanans don't leave over representation. I live here and I want it fixed here.

Nader advocates' strategy was to help Gore where needed

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Friday, Dec. 22
From: Steve Thompson
Whitefish, Mont.

Overlooked in this debate about Nader's impact on the election is the fact that many if not most of Nader's supporters actually voted for Al Gore. In fact, Naderites around the country restrained their desire to help nudge Ralph over the 5 percent hurdle in all of the key swing states, Florida included. Less than 2 percent of Florida voters cast a Nader ballot, and most of them probably wouldn't have bothered to vote at all had it not been for Nader.

Thanks to tactical voting by large blocs of Nader voters in green-heavy states, Gore won virtually every state with a deep Green presence: Oregon, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington and California. The only exception is New Hampshire, where a good showing by Nader (4 percent) may have tipped the balance to Bush.

Because most Nader supporters voted for the good rather than the perfect (in the parlance of my friend, Pat Williams), Nader received a greater share of the votes in Bush-dominated Utah than emerald Oregon, more in Gore-hostile Montana than green-cheese Wisconsin, and more in Don Young's Alaska than fern-feeling California.

In those Bush-dominated western states, many Gore supporters realized their vote had more symbolic and tactical importance cast for Nader. In fact, in the weeks preceding the election, countless numbers of Gore supporters in Bush-dominated states swapped strategic votes with Nader supporters in swing states. I personally know of many frustrated conservationists around the country who changed their vote from Nader to Gore in the last week to avoid playing the role of spoiler.

These NaderTraders and tactical voters in Oregon and Wisconsin, Minnesota and Washington and California did their job in making sure Gore did not lose their state's electoral votes because of Nader.

If Gore had lost all or even most of the green-leaning states that Democrats fretted most about, then I'd be more sympathetic to Pat Williams's harsh condemnation of Nader voters. But Gore didn't lose those states. Instead, he lost Florida and Tennessee and Missouri and Ohio, where the Nader vote was tiny.

Nader was a factor in Bush's electoral victory, but only a minor factor. In fact, I commend the tactical votes of most green voters, who by and large were savvy about the political realities in their home states. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. The primary culprit in the Bush victory was the Democrats' lackluster message to a cynical electorate, Clinton's shameless sexual shenanigans, Florida's ballot-box inequities, a partisan Supreme Court, and Gore's own tactical mistakes, including his failure to win his home state of Tennessee.

The irony of the matter is this: Responsible and tactical voting by Nader supporters who voted Gore in key battleground states kept Nader well below the 5 percent threshold, all but eliminating a major force for campaign finance reform and a more progressive and populist Democratic message in the future. Without that extra nudge from its Green flank, I don't know if the Dems can make the political shift that they so urgently need.

Nader used his enemies' tactics on his friends

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Thursday, Dec. 21
From: Larry Kralj
Great Falls, Mont.

Of course Pat Williams is absolutely correct in his analysis of the Nader fiasco and his traitors. They will forever be designated by their enemies and relegated by their former friends to the fringes of modern politics. They have marginalized themselves and their ideas. I mean, think about it for a moment. Ralph Nader is supposed to be a very smart guy. But how smart is he to adopt the tactics and arguments of his enemies, and then use them on his natural allies, which is exactly what Ralphy has done. Imagine that. Ralphy boy, a Limbaugh clone. It has to be the ultimate irony.

Nader has relentlessly accused the Democrats of being exactly the same as the Republicans, never stopping to acknowledge that the real Republican party no longer exists, having been replaced long ago by the extreme right wing. Why has Ralph done this? Is it because of overweening stupidity? Possibly. But I think that Nader, like so many other people with poorly developed critical thinking skills and the inability to withstand the right wing barrage of propaganda, simply bought into the right wing paradigm, which consists of a carefully calculated, purposely cultivated cynicism designed to destroy our faith in the only institution in which every citizen has a voice, and in which the average citizen has any chance at all of defending himself from the corporate onslaught, the government itself.

Ralphy boy, by adding his voice to the din of the chorus that says "government is bad, government is not working" makes it that much easier for the corporate fascists to succeed. These people don't want democracy to work, because they stand ready to replace it with something of their own design. Ralph has picked up their mantle of cynicism and used it as a weapon against his former friends, who are simply playing the hand they were dealt.

Let's face it. The fascist takeover has not occurred overnight. You, the people gradually allowed it to happen. You did not fight against right wing advances at every level of public participation. You failed to acknowledge the inroads they were making and challenge them at every turn. So it's a little late now for the wringing of hands, which does about as much good as voting for a quixotic crusader with delusions of grandeur.

Nader and his traitors will never again have a salient role in the determination for one reason and one reason alone. They have forgotten who are the loyal opposition and who are the enemy. We Dems got Ralphed on.

Clearly, Nader deserves the blame for a Bush administration

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 20
From: Pat Williams,
O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West,
Missoula, Mont.

Of course Nader's election raiders are upset with my column zeroing in on Nader's tragic mistake in running for president. They protest too much ... but understandably. After all, they elected George W Bush to the presidency.

Certainly Al Gore could have run a different race and ,yes, some would have preferred a little more good old Democratic Party give 'em hell rhetoric. I got elected to the U.S. Congress running against conservative tides here in Montana nine consecutive times from 1978 to 1997. I did it by keeping the liberal coalitions together. So, had I been an adviser to Al Gore, I would have had him run a somewhat different campaign from the outset. So what?

The point here is clear, Nader and his raiders elected George Bush. Gore didn't do it, they did it, with more than a nudge from a compliant Supreme Court.

The Nader people are embarrassed and they ought to be. Their guy ran a very poor campaign.

The results are damaging to the environmental efforts, to future Green Party campaigns and , of course, worst of all, they have elected to the presidency a man of limited competency, a lack of direction and a Texas conservative's view of the nation. Nader and his election raiders have made the perfect enemy of the good -- not that Nader is perfect, don't get me wrong on that one.

Atta boy, Ralph.

Blame is easy, but with Bush in, Greens and Dems need to talk

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Monday, Dec. 18
From: Brian Segee
Tucson, Ariz.

Pat Williams's guest editorial is sure to be one of many hit pieces blaming Ralph Nader and the Green Party for Gore's defeat. It is infuriating.

As Tom Tomorrow wryly pointed out in "This Modern World" a few weeks ago, the obscure "Worker's World" party received approximately 1,500 votes in Florida, which turns out to be three times the number of votes Gore needed to win Florida. The nerve of those people, they handed the election to Bush. I mean otherwise, they surely would have voted for Gore, right?

Seriously though, Gore and the Democratic party have only themselves to blame for defeat. With Clinton at shockingly high approval ratings, the celebrated economy continuing to expand to ever more dizzying heights, and a Republican opponent who is not only an obvious puppet but an intellectual embarrassment, why was the race so incredibly close in the first place? This is a question without a clear answer, but blame clearly does not lie with Nader and his 20-year-old suits.

Progressive people who came of age (I'm 30) in the Reagan and George-senior era held high expectations for Clinton and the man who wrote "Earth in the Balance." Instead we received eight years of centrist politics and policy from an administration with no discernible allegiance to meaningful principles or ideals. I remember Gore's biggest promise during Clinton's race was to close down a hazardous waste incinerator, owned by the notorious Waste Management, in East Liverpool, Ohio. This never happened. Not surprisingly, Gore did not campaign in East Liverpool this year.

Some defining elements of the Clinton/Gore administration which I fundamentally disagree with: sabotage of the Endangered Species Act (including continual budgeting of less money to Fish and Wildlife Service than Bush Sr.), aggressive pursuit of the War on Drugs which has resulted in the U.S. having the highest prison population in the world and has alarmingly included military exercises within our borders, nauseatingly infrequent prosecutions of environmental polluters under the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, passage of NAFTA without any meaningful environmental or labor sideboards, similar actions with respect to the WTO and now the FTAA, passage of the Welfare Reform Act, continued bombing of Iraq, refusal to make any meaningful concessions regarding the Kyoto treaty at the recent Hague meetings, an almost complete cessation of auditing or any sort of tax oversight of large corporations in general, and fortune 500 companies in particular, and the list goes on. Do we really believe that the election of Gore would signal a bold new era?

The media is of course full of talk about the need for Dems and Repubs to mend their fences. I think the Dems and the Greens also have some talking to do, and the Democrats would make a huge mistake by falling back into the simple and comforting path of blame. Greens are not perfect, but they are also not stupid, so Gore supporters should start listening up and stop treating them with arrogance and condescension. With Bush in office, we all need all the help we can get.

Democrats have only themselves to blame

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Monday, Dec. 18
From: Tom Robischon
Los Angeles

While I agree with Pat Williams (12/15) that votes for Nader in Florida, and elsewhere, could well have put Gore over the top, he says nothing about Gore's role in losing those votes to Nader.  First and foremost, I would say that's where blame should rest.  But Gore wasn't alone.  Blaming Nader is a way to duck responsibility for people who had a hand in Gore's campaign (particularly the decision to sanitize the campaign with anti-Clinton antiseptic). 

Also in complicity were Dems who chose him as their candidate, and Dems responsible for the lamentable direction Democratic politics has taken -- which brought on the Nader challenge in the first place.  Their feet should be put in the fire, too.  But it remains to be seen whether the Dem party will learn from its debacle.  Pat Williams' attack on Nader (and those who voted for him) doesn't augur well that the party will.

Nader a factor only because it's hard to tell the Democrats from the Republicans

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Monday, Dec. 18
From: Lance Olsen

Pat Williams is both right and wrong about Nader's candidacy paving the way to a win for Bush. He's right in that all the votes that went to Nader could have made a win for Gore. No doubt of that. Numbers are numbers, and the numbers add up.

But Nader could never have won those votes if not for the fact that Gore lost them. As Pat correctly says, facts are facts, and many Americans have accepted the fact that the Democrats have swayed from their traditional course onto one more like that of the Republicans. Top Democrats know it, and have said it publicly, and have done so well before Nader came onto the presidential scene.

For example, consider what the influential Democratic fund-raiser Felix Rohatyn told New York's Democratic women 10 years ago. Rohatyn outlined the
major policies and preferences of the Republicans, then asked how the Democrats differ.

"It is exceedingly hard to tell," he said in answer to his question. The Democrats, he said, are no longer a party of opposition. Instead, they have become a power-sharing party. Now, I'm sure that Rohatyn didn't mean that there are no differences whatsoever, or that the Democrats have merged with the Republicans in every nuance of every detail. Even if he believed that, I don't.

The point is that many Americans, including many Democrats other than Rohatyn, have concluded that the Democrats have gone somewhat helpless in the
face of extremism within the sadly corrupted Republican party. Looking for remedies, these many Americans have concluded that they must look beyond the
Democratic Party as it exists today, and the Democrats have willingly surrendered those votes in a conscious choice.

Pat's right. If not for Nader's candidacy, Gore might -- the keyword is "might" -- have won. But many Democrats across the country have been saying out loud and in public that this race was Gore's to lose, and that he did a great job of losing it.

Bad timing, Ralph

Subject: Nader the spoiler.
Date: Monday, Dec. 18
From: Eric Dalton
I agree with Mr Williams.  Ralph Nader picked a very bad year to run. Why couldn't he have run in 1996?  Or 1984 for that matter? 
Bush's election could well prove to be a mixed blessing for the Democrats and thus environmentalists (surely fundraising will go up when Slade Gorton is appointed Interior Secretary).  Democrats may even have a shot at one of the chambers in 2002.  Yet the best option would have been to have a lifelong environmentalist in the White House for the first time ever (I'd count Teddy Roosevelt as a lifelong hunter).   
The only silver lining I see is Gorton's defeat, and the fact that the Montana governor's race was actually close.  This shows some Western states are shifting.  I don't expect much progress in Wyoming, Idaho, or Utah though.
Pork should count in vote accounting

Subject: What's a vote worth? $54, at least, in Montana.
Date: Monday, Nov. 20, 2000
From: Lance Olsen,
Now wait just a doggone minute here. The $54 vote is an insult. We Montanans can't be bought that cheap, and I expect all the Congressional proponents of "cost-benefit analyses" to rush in with the needed corrections.
$54? Good grief. It's way more than that. Anyone knows that vote-buying isn't limited to election years. It's always open season for the vote-buying industry, and the facts of it are widely recognized all the way from wilderness to Wall Street, where it's known best as good ol' fashioned pork barrel spending. To this day, no one's found a better way to keep getting elected than by artful application of a little bacon grease.
Now, I know that pork barrel spending is not generally named as the election campaign spending that it is. We usually see pork in terms of the local jobs
that our politicians boast of "creating" for us folks back home, and I think never at all reported in terms of the benefits it bestows on the benevolent
pols. And I'm sure that some of our political big-spenders (Republicans as much as the Democrats, mind you) do it entirely from a generous purity of

But maybe some of our politicians see (or think they see) something in us that we have always thought we saw in even the best of them. We too can be bought, just like many of them can. Vote-buying implies willing sellers, after all. When the pork is counted, the costs of election campaigns will get lots clearer.

Justice's peevishness has ironic appeal

Subject: Supreme Court sides with citizens in environmental ruling.
Date: Friday, Jan. 14, 2000
From: Lance Olsen

The U.S. Supreme Court's 7-2 decision in favor of ordinary citizens' right to enforce environmental law, independently of the legal agencies, seems consistent with the Montana Supreme Court's decision in favor of the ordinary citizen's right to a clean and healthy environment. Together, the decisions seem roughly in the same ball park with Republican president Abe Lincoln's view of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The first three words of the U.S. Constitution are, after all, We the People...

Dissenter Scalia's remark on all this is , if accurately quoted by the New York Times, that it gives citizens "massive bargaining power." Exactly.

Scalia's remark has some comic appeal, and not just for his moan on learning that the people do have legitimate and legal paths for bargaining. After all, he's thought of as part and parcel with the devolutionist-right's school, in which power is supposed to "devolve" (trickle down?) from central government to citizen government. What's going on here? A case of being bitten when you get what you wished for, and then wanting to reject it? Sorry, Judge. It couldn't have happened to a more loving, tender soul.

Racicot's environmental record should be exposed
Subject: Montana governor a player in the big leagues
Date: Friday, Oct. 29, 1999
From: Donald Mazzola, Southwest Field Office, Montana Wilderness Association
Gov. Racicot has been an environmental disaster for the state of Montana. He opposed I-122, the Clean Water Initiative, favored oil and gas development of the Rocky Mountain Front and has needlessly slaughtered thousands of Montana's (and the country's) bison.
He should be exposed and discredited for these and many other actions.
What does Kemmis see in the governor?
Subject: Montana governor a player in the big leagues
Date: Friday, Oct. 29, 1999
From: Bill Mitchell
Re: The Dan Kemmis quote on Marc Racicot. ("People believe that what they see in Marc Racicot - a depth of character and trustworthiness - is exactly what they get." -- Headwaters News, Oct. 28, 1999)
Does Dan see depth of character and trustworthiness in the governor?
Attorney's stance is thoroughly ironic
Subject: Poisoning Montana's Cherry Creek to benefit native trout
From: Bruce Farling, executive director, Montana Trout Unlimited
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 26, 1999

Simply amazing. The story you ran yesterday in which Helena attorney Alan Joscelyn says that his opposition to the Cherry Creek cutthroat trout project could be significantly aided by the recent Montana Supreme Court opinion affirming Montanans' right to a clean and healthful environment includes enough irony to befit Shakespeare. And the press keeps missing it.

Alan was one of the attorneys of record on the LOSING side of last week's Supreme Court opinion. He argued AGAINST restoring clean water protections. He argued that discharging arsenic into the Blackfoot River in concentrations that exceeded drinking water standards -- even the standards he helped weaken -- did not harm our right to clean and healthful environment. He was one of the authors of the very change in the Montana Water Quality law in 1995 that precipitated the complaint leading to the
Supreme Court opinion -- an opinion he now says could help address his alleged worries about Cherry Creek being "polluted." As many
conservationists and industry lobbyists in Montana well know, Alan was a prime architect of the 1995 Montana Legislature's wholesale gutting of the Montana Clean Water Act, which in turn produced the challenge that led to the recent Supreme Court decision.

No, I'm not making this up. It actually gets stranger.

You see, Alan successfully argued in the 1995 Legislature that it was okay to change Montana's water quality standards to, among other things, increase the statistical risk of our getting cancer by 100-fold from carcinogens that might be discharged into drinking water. One carcinogen of special interest to the mining industry, Alan's client, was even singled out for special treatment: arsenic. Why, thanks to the work of Alan and others, its risk-based standard was weakened even further! By 1,000-fold.
These changes were directly designed to benefit the mining industry. Now Alan suggests our constitutional rights might be violated by using short-lived, organic chemicals that have been used safely for years in fishery work. In fact, Montana DEQ's analysis on the light-weight application of antimycin and rotenone proposed in remote Cherry Creek indicates that the odds of anyone being harmed in an even minute way are less than, say, being hit by an asteroid in the next five minutes.

But that's okay. We trout conservationists are more than willing to have this project run through a constitutional screen or any other test the opponents want to concoct. But one more irony. If the Cherry Creek project works, it could contribute to keeping westslope cutthroats off the endangered species list. Populations of this fish have dwindled in part because of the actions of the mining industry. Alan and the Montana Mining Association,another
official opponent of the Cherry Creek project, hate ESA. They say it impedes legitimate mining. Yet when presented with a project that could increase populations of this disappearing fish -- and thus benefit their interests -- they rabidly oppose it. Go figure.
I like Alan. He's a nice guy. But all these goofy contradictions makes you wonder if there aren't some other chemicals at work in some people's water supply.

Re: Billings Gazette editorial saying Montanans are being trickled on

April 21, 1999
To the Editor:
The 1999 Legislature isn't finished yet.
If you are one of the Montanans who is alarmed by the blue smoke and
mirrors deployed by the legislatures leadership this session, contact
your legislator and urge her/him to give their highest priority to fully
funding HJR 18, an interim study to present legislation to broadcast
future legislatures.
With the reduced level of media coverage Montana's legislature has
received in recent years, it is not surprising the leadership believed
(correctly) they could get away with setting these time bombs under the
future of local government. Making the proceedings of the Montana
Legislature more accessible is one antidote to this type of fiscally
deceitful and irresponsible behavior.
You have until May 1st to contact your legislator and urge them to
support funding for HJR 18.
Jim Parker
Missoula, MT
Don't act like a tourist, don't pay

Subject: Montana's proposed tourist tax
Date: Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000
From: Tom Robischon,
Los Angeles

There's an old Western sentiment I gew up with in Montana about people who came to the state with money, whether the Feds or outsiders: Give us your money and get out. I learned early on not to like tourists, but we all had to bitterly admit that we depended on them. Now Governor Racicot is proposing a tax on tourists' meals. That has left me wondering how someone is going to know that it is a tourist's meal so they can slap the tax on it. Ask them if they are tourists? Look for those undeniable signs of that lowly species? If I am asked the next time I visit Montana, I will say I am not a tourist: I was born and raised there. And I will try even harder not to act like a tourist.

Arizona proposition would require developers to pay costs

Subject: Arizona's growth-control initiative
Date: Thursday, Nov. 2, 2000
From: Nikolai Ramsey
Grand Canyon Trust

Proposition 202, the Citizens' Growth Management Initiative, is about who decides Arizona's future -- local voters, or developers and politicians -- and about who should pay for the costs associated with new development -- taxpayers or developers. Proposition 202 requires a local vote on all growth-management plans and major amendments, and it requires that developers pay for the costs of roads, sewers, schools, and fire and police facilities needed by their new developments.

Proposition 202 is supported by more than 50 organizations and small businesses who believe local voters should decide how their communities develop and grow. Citizens for Growth Management includes the League of Women Voters of Arizona, the Arizona Public Health Association, Grand Canyon Trust, the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, Trout Unlimited - Zane Grey Chapter, Arizona Wildlife Federation, and the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson, among others.

In addition to requiring voter-approved growth-management plans, Proposition 202 requires that cities and counties establish where growth is going to occur by designating growth areas defined by boundaries drawn to accommodate up to 10 year's worth of growth.

Proposition 202 can help save taxpayers money by requiring developers to pay for the costs of roads, schools, police and fire facilities, etc. associated with new developments, and by giving counties the authority to regulate wildcat subdivisions. Pima County estimates that these wildcat subdivisions cost the county taxpayers $35 to $55 million each year in infrastructure costs alone.

This could be the last battle for our future and our quality of life in Arizona. Air pollution and traffic congestion are bad, and our schools have deteriorated as a result of rapid and unchecked growth. In many areas, our water supply is overburdened and police and fire protection services are spread too thin.

Opponents of Proposition 202 have done a lot of squawking about the initiative and spent buckets of money in an effort to confuse voters. If you believed their advertising, we will all be living in high rises or using port-a-potties, and of course the "evil greedy" lawyers will line their pockets with cash.

Proposition 202 will change the way we make decisions about Arizona's growth ˇ a much needed change that will help us protect our quality of life and protect open space.

Development interests are clearly out of step with the desires of local voters and are certainly out of step with investors regarding growth management. PricewaterhouseCoopers had this to say about Phoenix in Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2000, "You can still wager on suburban 'growth path investing' in ... Dallas and Phoenix, but it's a risky play." Contrast that with what they say about Portland, Ore., a city that has had growth-management in place for over 20 years, "Portland has growth controls, which investors increasingly covet, and excellent quality-of-life perceptions."

More business interests understand the necessity of protecting our quality of life by investing in communities. Consider this Portland example: If Intel exceeds 5,000 full-time manufacturing workers at its facilities, it will pay an impact fee of $1,000 per additional worker per year. Moreover, failure to deal with the problem of sprawl will only drive away prospective employers. In 1998, Hewlett Packard decided not to expand a 1200-employee facility in the Atlanta area citing problems associated with poorly planned growth, concerns like traffic congestion.

Opponents claim Proposition 202 will lead to more litigation on land use, but it's these development interests who are suing over those decisions right now. They sued Apache Junction over school impact fees, alleging that cities do not have the authority to impose impact fees for schools. For years, they have also helped defeat legislation that would allow school impact fees. (Proposition 202 authorizes school impact fees.)

And it is developers who are challenging local communities' efforts to protect open space lands in Arizona. What developers are concerned about is that under 202 regular citizens can take action to require that their elected officials enforce voter-approved growth management plans.

Proposition 202 charges the state attorney general with enforcing the act ˇensuring that our government follows the law. However, like some of our most important laws, the initiative also includes a "citizen suit" provision that allows individual citizens to ensure that elected officials abide by this needed growth management measure.

Citizen suit provisions have been part of the federal environmental laws for more than 25 years and have been recognized as an important supplement to the enforcement of those laws. Indeed, here in Arizona the citizen suit provision of the Clean Air Act has been instrumental in ensuring that a recalcitrant Phoenix area comply with the law and adopt measures to improve air quality.

Proposition 202 only allows a suit if there is a violation of the Act and simply allows a court order requiring the defendant to follow the law. It does not provide for money damages or any incentive for a flurry of lawsuits. It will not allow someone who is unaffected by the law to sue ˇ in other Arizona laws where it says "any citizen" or "any person," the court interpretation is that it is someone who has been impacted.

Proposition 202 may actually lead to fewer lawsuits. Under the current system, city and county governments can (and do) make rezoning decisions on an ad hoc basis. Therefore, when a controversial rezoning is proposed, it often results in a face-off between local residents and the developer. No matter what the city or county decides, it may result in litigation by the "losing" side.

Proposition 202 will limit these recurring face-offs because the growth management plans, which are subject to voter approval, provide both developers and residents with predictability and curtail the power of developers to pressure local government to rezone property so that it is inconsistent with the plan.

Elected officials have, too often in the past, demonstrated an unwillingness to follow laws passed by the people through initiatives. Given this history, it is only reasonable that Proposition 202, which represents a shift in power to the voters, contains a citizen enforcement provision. Indeed, if our elected officials had the political will to deal with the issue of growth management, Proposition 202 would have been unnecessary.

Probably the most irresponsible thing opponents are touting regarding 202 is the idea that the Legislature has or will adequately address growth management issues. The legislature, even with the threat of an initiative, has been unwilling to do anything meaningful, and in fact, they have come very close to passing bills that would make it impossible for counties to regulate lot splits or for cities to implement more protective zoning.

If Arizona is to have meaningful growth management, it will have to come from the people as it is quite clear that our elected officials are not up to the task. We strongly urge your support of Proposition 202.

Montana's intolerance is no draw, either

Subject: Homophobia cuts into Idaho public TV funding.
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2000
From:Larry Kralj
Great Falls, Mont.

If you build it, they will come. If you build it, they won't come. It is being built. And believe me, they are coming.

Sound goofy? Like maybe something some of our less-than-inspired politicos here in Montana would say? Well, like the homophobes in Idaho, it is exactly the message that many Montana legislators, both state and federal, send with their extreme right wing statements, actions, and legislation.

et me explain. What is being built? The answer: Montana's reputation as an attractive and inviting location for bigots, racists, and anti-government kooks of all stripes. Unfortunately, it's not just because of the Freemen, Unabomber, and the militia. Sen. Conrad Burns uses racial epithets with alacrity, Lt. Gov. Judy Martz sends a shovel to Nevada, Rep. Scott Orr of Libby calls for a day of "extreme civil disobedience" while proposing to raise the Confederate flag, our Legislature nearly passes legislation calling for gays to be registered as sex offenders and refuses to rescind archaic laws regarding homosexual activity between consenting adults, and on and on and on.

It's a group effort, but it is being built. The message is really not very subtle. And, of course, there are those who respond accordingly. And they are coming.

And who won't come if you build it? Answer: all the high-tech industries that these same politicians want to attract, because guess what? Many people in high-tech industries are minorities or gay. They are very educated, sophisticated people who want their kids to be raised in a secure environment of tolerance, not in an area where an angry man feels comfortable gunning down a black man in a rest area for simply being black.

These homophobic and right wing politicians need to understand that you can't have it both ways. You can't project an image of extreme intolerance and expect a great deal of interest from companies with a diverse workforce wanting to relocate here.

Ask an out-of-stater some time about their thoughts on Montana. They will probably tell your that not only a river, but also intolerance, runs through it.

Shovel Brigade thinking is out of date

Subject: Jarbridge protesters move rocks, make their point.
Date: Thursday, July 6, 2000
From: Larry Kralj,
Great Falls, Mont.

Read the story. Angry mob takes law into their own hands. Uses the cover of "states rights". Ignores rule of law. Believes that they are right and the majority of the people are wrong. Claim that their "traditional" way of life is threatened. Lashes out at federal government.

Sounds very reminiscent of the racists in the Old South, right? But these are the shovel brigaders of today. These poor, hate-filled ignorant souls don't understand that the rest of the country has moved on well beyond this issue, and that they are stuck in their antebellum ways so to speak.

It was morally wrong to enslave other human beings, just as it is morally wrong to abuse resources that belong to all Americans. As our natural resources grow more scarce, most people understand that our wild places grow more valuable because they are healthy places that supply us with things essential to life, such as water. The water comes from "up there," so to speak.

So, what did we learn from Jarbridge. We learn that these folks can mobilize an angry mob of 500 rednecks. And while this may be a terrific way to recruit talent for a banjo orchestra skilled in the theme music from "Deliverance," it is a pathetic way to determine public policy regarding our shared national lands. The brigaders stand ready to replace Big Brother with Redneck Mothers. Check out the Web site for some of their more incoherent meadnerings about how Clinton's infidelities empower them to claim public lands as their own.

Immigration policy must recognize dependence on illegal workers

Subject:Illegal immigrants cost Arizona counties millions for law enforcement.
Date: Thursday, June 29, 2000
From: Marcia Rundle

I read the Arizona Republic article with interest. It is an interesting perspective after the Seattle Times' four-issue feature last week about the economic impact of illegal immigration in Washington. The Times' own description of this series, titled "Under Two Flags":

Sunday, June 19, 2000: Mexican labor is the mainstay of Washington agriculture. Immigration authorities no longer raid fields, and labor leaders demand amnesty for illegal workers.

Monday, June 20, 2000: Illegal farmworkers toil in Washington fields for decades to feed their families in Mexico. Mexican foremen recruit new crews of workers north.

Tuesday, June 21, 2000: As workers gain citizenship and buy homes, they help new workers into the country. Waves of migration are changing the face of rural Washington.

Wednesday, June 22, 2000: As older farmworkers retire to Mexico, their grandchildren settle in America. Villages in Mexico are transformed by dollars sent home.

I highly recommend the Times' series because it came closest to my own experience of living/working in Los Angeles, a city that functions only because of illegal immigration. Seattle also has a sizable population of Hispanic citizens and illegal workers, although it is not (yet) as visibly dependent on illegal laborers to function.

Clearly, this is an issue of great importance for the region. We need to develop a coherent policy about immigration that recognizes both the reality at the borders and the reality inland throughout the West.

If stewards of the land really cared, they'd support monument status

Subject: Missouri Breaks as a national monument
Date: Monday, May 15, 2000
From: Joanne Muretta,
Great Falls, MT

The Montana Legislature's special session Missouri River Breaks Resolution claims that federal monument designation is not needed because "undaunted stewards care for the land.

But let's consider the source and tell the unabridged story. Remember what this whole area of Montana was like when Lewis & Clark passed through a short
200 years ago. Then came trappers, buffalo hunters, miners, loggers, shepherds, cattle barons, and sodbusters. This short grass prairie has not been the same since.

Farming is the prevalent activity today, and where the land isn't suited for farming because there are too many ravines or it's too rocky or the soil is
too shallow, there's ranching. Some 40 years ago when the last natural fertility of the soil was lost, instead of giving the land a rest we "socked the spurs to it by using fertilizers and chemicals to force continued production. We export our future to Asia to support billions who depleted their land. We must each be responsible for our own ecosystem.

Who are these "undaunted stewards" that care so much for the land? I don't know many. I farmed for thirty years, and was not doing right by the land. They should be honest about their true intentions to use the land and personally profit as they see fit.

Most ranchers have some wheat ground and take federal subsides. Those who speak of their private rights and a federal plot to take their land while pocketing massive federal subsidies are being unfair to taxpayers who have bought this land many times over.

Undaunted stewards? What kind of steward allows their cattle to overgraze public land, to prevent cottonwood regeneration by eating seedlings along river banks, or to use the Bullwacker yearlong resulting in cockleburs and cheat grass.

The Missouri Breaks Region is precious and deserves everyone's stewardship. If the "undaunted" were serious, they would support efforts to conserve the wild nature of this area. They would applaud federal proscriptions on federal land like monument status and wilderness designation.

Success is based on merit, not whining
Subject: Workers, communities suffer from federal policies.
Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2000
From: Larry M. Kralj, Great Falls, Mont.

I'm used to hearing people described as bleeding heart liberals. After reading Skinner's letter, I think a new category is order, perhaps something like "bleeding heart wackos."

These are the helicopter-beanie-wearing guys who planned the Libby protest and their apologists like Skinner who think the world owes them a living off public lands. Cry
all they want, but this is still America were people succeed or fail based upon their own merits, not upon how much of a public resource held in common for the public good they are allowed to steal.

They are no different than anyone else who loses a job. They need to get some guts and go out find a new one, or starve while crying in their beer.

Take it from a lifelong working man who has lost his share of jobs and had to scramble to make a living in Montana, a bleeding heart is a bleeding heart. And a heart that bleeds for itself is a whiner.

Funds cut from whirling disease research
Subject:Whirling disease research funding
Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2000
From: Dave Kumlien, development director,
Whirling Disease Foundation of Bozeman

Rumors from the recent whirling disease symposium have been confirmed: $1 million in federal funds for whirling disease research have been cut from the Clinton administration's proposed budget. The timing of this cut couldn't be worse. Scientific finds from the recent symposium in Coeur d'Alene show great promise, and researchers are focused on exciting prospects for management and control of this deadly disease. We need help in getting these funds restored and increased.
The Whirling Disease Foundation of Bozeman sent out letters to more than 100 senators and representative from states affected by the disease. Foundation President Chris Francis has been in contact with Rep. Ralph Regula's office regarding the issue. We have also communicated with the offices of Montana Sens. Conrad Burns and Max Baucus, and they have offered their assistance in getting the funding restored.

There are some important meetings and deadlines on the horizon. On Feb. 29, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt defends the department's budget before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, and on March 2, the budget goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. We need to do our work quickly, and we hope members of the public will help in contacting some of the key people involved in the budget process and assist in applying the necessary pressure to restore and increase the whirling disease research funding.

There's no more effective method to influence the process than to have a legislator hear from one of his or her constituents.

These days, Montana's sense of community is largely myth

Subject: Clinton's roadless plan is bad politics, bad ecology
Date: Monday, Jan. 24, 2000
From: Ralph Maughan

I heard Dan Kemmis speak once. It was at the Montana Wilderness Association meeting, back in 1980, if I remember
correctly. After his inspirational talk about the land and people of Montana, I wanted to go find John Denver and help him sing
"Wild Montana Skies." But that was 20 years ago. Denver's dead, and the song was based on myth.

Since that Sunday morning talk Kemmis gave, he has become famous in conservative and dainty liberal circles for his
book Community and the Politics of Place. I wish it were so -- cooperative neighbors settling their differences with discussion, insight, empathy, creativity. But that's not the way things are in the interior West, nor are they likely to be. They probably never were that way.

Denver begins, "He was born in the Bitterroot Valley in the early morning rain. . . wild geese over the water, heading
north to their home again. Bringing a warm wind from the south, bringing the first taste of the spring. His mother took
him to her breast, and softly she did sing. . . "Oh Montana, give this child a home, give him the love of a good family,
and a woman of his own, give him a fire in his heart, give a light in his eyes, give him the wild wind for a brother, and
the wild Montana skies.

If anyone thinks there is community in Montana, they should visit the Bitterroot Valley today, scene of some of
Norman MacLean's famed literature.

Today's Bitterroot might inspire, "He was born in the Bitterroot Valley in the early morning haze. . . SUV for his cradle,
heading north to the condo again. Planting knapweed in its tracks, sprouting the first green of the spring. His mother
took him to her breast, and softly she did sing. . . "Oh militia, give this boy a gun, give him White friends for his brothers, and tax cut for his home."

Much the same is true throughout the West. Community is gone. Its residents have little notion that it ever existed. Popular history goes something like this: the West was settled by the cowboys and the bandits, but things were kept in order by John Wayne, with helpful assistance from Buffalo Bill, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, and Ronald Reagan. Later a prettier West emerged where young Norm MacLean and his brother spent their youth drinking and flycasting on the Big Blackfoot.

Did that community ever exist? Yes, certainly more than in the popular history. There were people who struggled to
help each other survive in the awful company towns, and in the isolated farm communities. Community was often
strongest in the vast patriarchy of the Mormon Church. There it still exists to an ever attenuating degree. But where
Brigham Young mandated broad streets and room for gardens, these avenues now lead to winding roads, punched into
the mountainsides, ending in bland culdesacs, signed "Private Property, Keep Out." It's not clear that anyone even lives here let alone has a sense of community.

But one thing most people in the Interior West love is the open space and public lands. Poll after poll shows the
majority loves national parks, the wilderness (by various definitions), and wildlife.

The Wall Street Journal , Jan. 21, has a story, "National GOP Survey Says Western Voters Strongly Support
Protection of National Forests." Of course, those westerners polled are mostly city folks, not "real Westerners". The
real West, the rural West, is gradually fading under the strip malls, recreational subdivisions, and noxious weeds. It is
dying from the devotion to a fundamentalist view of property rights that is the opposite of community and in turn leads to those very subdivisions.

If you grew up in the West like I did, it's painful to see the change and awful to realize the sterility of the myth
Hollywood created for us. One place where things are still pretty much right is the public lands, where no one lives.
They are run by the federal government, and run increasingly well and without the input of the local politicians. This is
a legacy of Bill Clinton and his "Gifford Pinchot," chief forester Mike Dombeck.

Many sneer at Bill Clinton's two trips to Jackson Hole, including some environmentalists, but people who met with
him there say he quickly saw that the border of Yellowstone Park was no place for the New World Mine,
environmentally or politically. Like Theodore Roosevelt, Clinton came West and recognized the blindness of most of
the local politicians. Where they could not see, the President could. Perhaps all he could see were votes, but I think he
saw much more. At any rate, should we criticize him for embodying representative democracy, and now expanding on
the practice? The survey continues, "A staggering 72 percent of the voters surveyed in the West support Clinton's
roadless areas protection proposal. Nationwide, 76 percent of those polled favor the Clinton administration plan, announced in October 1999, while just 19 percent opposed it."

The Democrats are in great decline in the interior West. Many, including Kemmis, attribute this to the national
Democrats being out of touch with their Western constituents on land issues. It's true, that Clinton did not win the
West, but he ran ahead of most of the local Democrats whose message was "?" Al Gore won't carry the West, but he
will do better in the West than the Western Democrats, who won't take a stand to protect the public lands. Today's
article continues, "Support was widespread even among those who are the president's biggest critics - 62 percent of Republicans support the plan, as do 65 percent of self-described conservatives. Regionally, westerners support the plan by a 3-to-1 margin."

I don't mean to be harsh, but I've sat down in these vaunted consensus groups, and spent my time when I could have
been fishing or mountain climbing. We all agreed we don't like the changes in the West, but we didn't agree from where
we came, where we were, or where we should go. Oh, yes, and after much discussion we didn't get to like each other, but
we knew liked the open spaces, "the wild Montana skies."

We have a right to know who's killing our wildlife
Subject: Posting private information about environmental foes goes too far.
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1999
From: Patricia Wolff, director of New West Research
Thank you, Dave Skinner, for promoting our website to a national audience. We could never afford to buy the kind of publicity you have given us. Now thousands of HCN readers from around the nation will be turning on their computers and going to to find out what the fuss is all about.
Skinner and his anti-environmental friends may not want the public to know who's asking government agents to poison, trap, and gun down coyotes, bears, foxes, bobcats, cougars, beavers, prairie dogs, and other native species, but the public has a right to know. This is not just our opinion -- it's the law. You can't hide your dirty deeds behind bogus "privacy" excuses anymore.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press agrees with us. In a recent letter to USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, the Reporter's Committee stated: "It is a paramount concern for environmental groups - and all citizens - to know with whom the USDA is working to manage wildlife populations. The only way for environmental groups to successfully track the influence ranchers and others have on USDA predator control initiatives is for them to monitor participation in such programs. The continued release of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of ranchers who participate in predator control programs is essential for environmental groups and others to continue studying the effects of such programs. The Reporters Committee urges the USDA to continue releasing this basic information and to keep adhering to the spirit of open government articulated in the Freedom of Information Act."
Aside from the public's inherent right to know, there is also a public health and safety benefit to exposing these names and addresses. Poisons set out by government wildlife killers, such as M-44 sodium cyanide devices, can also kill humans and domestic animals. Steel-jaw traps can seriously injure or kill your beloved cat, dog or horse. Aerial gunning can frighten and endanger both humans and animals on adjacent properties. Poisoned birds can fall dead on your property, as they did by the thousands on Albuquerque backyards last December.
The government's wildlife killing program, perversely dubbed "Wildlife Services," is a controversial government program with a track record of lawlessness and recklessness. Greater accountability and public oversight is desperately needed. If it's such a great program, why keep it shrouded in secrecy?
Skinner frets that those who collaborate with government wildlife killers will be harassed now that their names and addresses have been exposed. That's the same kind of whining we hear from pedophiles and crack dealers who don't want their identities known to the public.
Nevertheless, the community has a right to express its outrage against child abusers, animal abusers, and others who violate community sensibilities. The slaughter of our native wildlife is senseless and shameful and the public has a right to be outraged about it.
"White flight" more a matter of inconsiderate neighbors, not diversity
Subject: "White Flight" by Richard Manning
Date: Monday, Nov. 29, 1999
From: K. Brown
This email is in response to the article by Richard Manning, regarding "white flight" to rural areas. As I sat here in Texas, reading the "white flight" article I was in physical pain. It wasn't inflicted from within my home or even from on my property. The pain was due to the "person" across the street who was running a vehicle stereo system. Not just any system, but one of the dozens in the area, designed to do one thing, and one thing only.... be louder than the others.
Now let me put this in perspective. I'm no old foggie, and I listen to "loud" rock music daily. This noise (bass notes) was so loud as to actually cause major physical pain in my eardrums, across the street, with all my doors and windows closed. I repeat actual physical pain. We go through this every day in varying degrees from one or more in this neighborhood. There's hardly an hour that goes by that we aren't bothered or awakened by extreme noise, despite calls to the police.
Now we get to the point. I'm one of those about to take part in "white flight" as the media likes to call it. I'm white, proud of it and refuse to apologize for it, despite being politically incorrect for my stand. White flight? No diversity? Yes, after going through the better part of a years constant audio assault by non-whites in the neighborhood (neighborhood is
now "minority" by a vast "majority" and none of the noise makers is white), I'm ready (and thrilled) to be leaving. I've been driven out by the noise.

This used to be a quiet "white middle class" neighborhood. Now we whites are the vast minority and this is what we get for the "diversity" that the media seems to love. I say to the media, "keep the diversity yourself," if that's what it takes to get one day of peace and quiet. I came back into this area from a (quiet)"white" enclave, with a great attitude and desire to "embrace the diversity," as it were. Now I can't wait to move back out. If the minorities want to be accepted by the white community they need to stop making life miserable in the communities where they live (and blaming "racism").
Obviously they aren't all guilty of personally causing the problems (we have black friends next door), but most rarely do anything to help put an end to the obvious problems. Anyone who's not part of the cure is part of the problem (to paraphrase). It's time that the media started focusing on the real underlying problems instead of the symptoms. I've traveled enough to find the same sort of problems elsewhere, so I can say with certainty that this is not an isolated problem.
By the way, the noise-makers are obviously not poverty stricken (new expensive vehicles - $2,000 stereo systems), so that puts an end to use of the poverty card. Last weekend I left town to escape the noise and was "driven out" of a state park by the same sort of noise, where the pavilion was rented to a "minority" group running two massive amplifiers (outdoors), each large enough to serve the Astrodome. The whole RV park had to endure the massive noise all day and into late night. Although I had paid for the night, I left because of the noise just before midnight. "White flight" again. My fault? I doubt it.

Most of the so called "racial" problems today have little to do with the "color" of a persons skin but rather their ability to live in harmony with, and respect the rights of others. If you really want to help, please use the media to tell the real story for a change - not the politically correct version.
Craig is arguing the environmentalists' point for us
Subject: Local solutions should guide public land management.
Date: Monday, Nov.1, 1999
From: Lance Olsen

Larry Craig (Denver Post op-ed, 11/1/99) complains that it is the national environmental groups who have caused him the most frustration. His complaint is echoed by hundreds of small, local environmental groups around North America, and the situation just might be worst here in the USA.
For decades now, local groups have spotted forest problems first, researched the facts, developed solutions, and forged ahead with the publicity needed to let the larger public know what's happening. Then the rich and big environmental groups wade in, compromise the landscapes that locals fought to
save, and declare victory in their own name.
Now, of course, Larry Craig pays no more attention to local environmentalists than he does to the nationals. Like Dan Kemmis in Montana, Craig grasps at political straws by blaming outsiders for his woes. It's nothing new. The psychiatrist Carl Jung commented that, for some people, the devil always
lives on the other side of the mountain. We see this same generic problem in the immigrant-bashing right-wingers of this world, and we see too in the dictator who keeps the folks at home under heel by warning them of threats from other nations.
And so it's no surprise to see it applied here in the Northern Rockies. It's an old problem, and one you'd think the press had got hip to by now, but every generation needs to learn these things anew.
Gravel pits threaten aquifers
Subject: Gravel pits are reclamation problem
From: Larry Campbell
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1999

The article regarding the proliferation of gravel pits and their associated
environmental problems was a good contribution to public understanding of a
problem so common it hardly registers on public awareness. Each pit that
intercepts groundwater stands as an open sore to admit contamination into
the aquifer. Also, in our semi-arid region, ponds and lakes lose
approximately three feet of water annually to evaporation. As I watch the
acreage of gravel pit ponds grow, particularly beside the highways, I see a
growing threat to the water quality and quantity of our aquifers.
Sweepstakes is an ingenious virus
Subject: Arizona sues Publishers Clearing House
From: Gloria Phillip
Date: Thursday, Sept. 23, 1999
American Family Publishers has infected the elderly with its own
ingenious brucellosis virus. Logic meted to the bison dictates:
every single employee of American Family Publishers should be
shot, their heads hung as trophies in some great hall under a
towering grizzly bear. Still, the law of the United States stands
immutable. The con-artists will get off with a slap on the wrist
and the buffalo will lose their lives.
Subject: Bison Protester
Date: Wed, 01 Sep 1999 17:30:29 -0600
From: Gloria Phillip
To: Headwaters News
Give me a break! It's "dangerous" for those brawny deputies to
remove one woman from a tripod? Can this be law enforcement?
May Nelson's day in court receive enormous publicity for its
blatant stupidity. If the country has more stupid trials, something may
change: bison life may be valued instead of being shot for the same
stupid reasons as arresting this "dangerous" woman..
Subject: proposed nuclear/hazardous waste incinerator to be built upwind of Yellowstone
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 10:43:28 EDT
To: Headwaters News
INEEL in Idaho wants world polluters, British Nuclear Fuels to build a
radioactive/hazardous waste incinerator at INEEL. The whole nuclear industry
is gearing up for incineration in Idaho because no other community wants an
incinerator like this. The only other transuranic mixed waste incinerator in
the country is at Oak Ridge, TN where people have been poisoned with mercury,
beryllium, and cyanide. Now, Idaho wants an incinerator that would have
synergistic effects, and radiation doesn't burn anyway, so everything
downwind including Yellowstone, and Grand Teton and possibly Glacier National
Parks are in danger, as well as the people who live in the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Here is a website with information about a public meeting to be held Tuesday,
August 24, 1999. We will discuss the legal and health implications of this
incinerator with Gerry Spence, Arjun Mahkijani, and Paul Connett, as well as
the public, and other people who are experts on INEEL. Please see our
website for more information. Thank you!
Suzy Kneeland
Jackson, WY
Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free

Subject: roads, sprawl, and spending
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 12:17:24 -0600
From:Lance Olsen
Great to see the NY Times story on road construction and sprawl in
Headwaters News. These twin topics are pretty important throughout the
West, including western Montana where citizens have been opposing new road
construction, at least partly because they know darn well that road
construction just facilitates sprawl, which deteriorates large
neighborhoods such as the Bitterroot Valley.
We need remember that all this is a consequence of political spending; it
was just a matter of weeks ago that editorial writers around America were
voicing disgust with a Congress that had decided to throw billions of
dollars in pork barrel spending into a national road construction budget.
The construction companies and construction equipment manufacturers that
get fat off this pork give lots of money to members of Congress, and are
well rewarded for this stunningly still-legal bribery.
But people living near the new road construction projects are increasingly
objecting, despite ingenuous claims that all this spending is good for the
local economy. There is plenty of spending that could do real good, without
doing so much harm. But Aldo Leopold said, some decades ago, that it is
easier to build a road than to figure out what the country really needs.
His comment is as true today as it was when he said it.
Lance Olsen
West Glendive, Montana
Overpopulation is the mother of all over-regulation
Subject: re: susan ewing (on her beautiful ranchette)
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 11:40 am
From: Michael Umphrey
To: <>
Susan Ewing ends her apology for living on a ranchette with this thought,
"Perhaps I can trade the 2.5 children I didn't have, plus my generous annual
contribution to Planned Parenthood, for the promise that the next
illustration of sprawl in the press leaves out my beautiful ranchette."
I don't begrudge Ms. Ewing her beautiful piece of Montana but I worry a
little about implications of what she is saying. It's a common notion that
our environmental problems are caused by too many people, and it's no doubt
true that the more of us there are the more we need to think about one
another and accommodate one another. It seems simple that if we could just
wish away all those other people then we could do whatever gives us pleasure
and life would be good.
But that way of thinking keeps leading toward attempts to use government to
regulate people's decisions about fertility. For people who believe social
norms are best established by the workings of rational bureaucracies, this
comes to seem a perfectly reasonable approach. But it seems a little ironic
that the same people who believe governments should have no opinions about
women's reproductive rights often lend support to government policies that
interfere with family decisions about fertility. Ms. Ewing said no such
thing, of course, but others who see population as the "big" problem have.
There are also other things to think about. Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt
projects that within two generations, three-fifths of Italy's children will
have no siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles. In Scandinavia today, which has
gone a long way toward reducing the nuclear family's role as the basis of
society, almost half of all households are comprised of single individuals.
Is the best way to ensure that we have cottontails under our cars to build a
lonely society of folks without strong kinship ties? I confess that as a
person with six siblings and five children, I have difficulty imagining what
such a society would mean.
And then there are other social realities. Ms. Ewing implies that a cultural
change in our attitudes toward children might solve our environmental
problems, but by far the most powerful way to affect culture is through
reproduction. Though it doesn't happen quickly, people with high fertility,
Mormons and Catholics in the West, for example, tend to spread their
cultural values very effectively while those with low fertility tend to be
pushed aside. To a large extent, the future will be shaped by people who
reproduce at a high rate and teach their children, far more deeply than
schools do, what we should want, what we should fear, how we should react to
crises, and how we should interact with the land and with others.
I suspect that if the West of the future has both good society and healthy
nature, it will not be because we have stopped reproducing. It will be
rather because the West is populated by folks who enjoy seeing neighbors and
children nearby as much as they enjoy chickadees, and that they find
graceful ways to live together in clusters, without dreams of isolating
themselves from one another by twenty-acre buffer zones.
If Ms. Ewing were writing about the very real pleasures of sitting on a
front porch, visiting with folks who walked by and observing the fascinating
nesting rituals of neighbors, I think she would be moving us closer to a
peaceful future.
Michael Umphrey
St. Ignatius, MT 59865

Re: the Road to Ruin

April 29, 1999

The majority of citizens on the Flathead Reservation are NOT happy with the tribes' position on highway 93. That includes the majority of members (60%) and the vast majority of non-members. If you and the Missoulian are going to be mouthpieces for the tribal council, please clearly state it so people can recognize propaganda when they see it.

Katherine Mitchell

St. Ignatius

Re: Bison captured outside Yellowstone

April 15, 1999
To the editor:
I hope the buffalo will not be killed.
Gloria Phillip
Missoula, MT


Re: Rafting in Yellowstone from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, posted on Headwaters 4/8/99.

April 9, 1999
Me me me. All these selfish recreationists. And conservationists.
A better plan would be to use the boating as a means to leverage decreases in
other impacts (how slight the chance of that succeeding).
Timothy Bechtold
Missoula, MT
Re: Quenching the desert air from the Arizona Republic.
Monday, March 30
I've bookmarked your newspaper and just finished reading the article on Lake
Tempe. It's all politics there. The city is really nice as a small down town
place to shop and hangout at night. Good bars, coffee shops, etc.
The lake is going to pull in a lot of visitors and more money. The city lives off
ASU and Cardinal football fall and winter. This would bring a lot of spring and
summer (very hot but that's why the lake) visitors.
I understand it started with the Pope's visit 20 years ago. The city cleaned up
and started to rebuild. Cardinals came, Fiesta Bowl (national championships)
and it kept growing. There is talk of losing the Cards to a sister city and
Tempe has some plans to redesign the stadium to keep them. Oh yeah - with
taxpayers money not the owners.
Gary G. Stone
Roanoke, VA (recently moved from Phoenix, AZ)

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