The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Tester’s Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act

Democratic Senator from Montana. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCarper Supports Voting Rights Obstruction Ban Schumer Hints at Obstruction Reform After GOP Blocks Voting Rights Bill The Hill’s Morning Report – Brought to you by ExxonMobil – The Manchin drama intensifies; all eyes on Virginia PLUS sponsored S. 1493, nicknamed the Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act. But because of its new minimal wilderness designation, mandatory logging provisions, special interest exceptions in currently roadless national forests, and opposition from the Republican Senator from Montana. Steve dainesSteven (Steve) David Daines McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Thune backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race This week: Democrats aim to unlock Biden’s economic and infrastructure package MORE, it’s fair to say that the measure faces a serious headwind in Congress.


The bill designates 79,000 acres as “nailing” additions to the existing Bob Marshall, Mission
Mountains and scapegoat wilderness areas in western Montana. While the new wilderness designation is welcome, much more public land should have been included in the wilderness since the Blackfoot-Clearwater region is anchored in the inventoried roadless areas and the functional forest ecosystems they support. Numerous studies conclude road-free areas and wildernesse the best habitat for elk, the best water quality and the safest habitat for endangered species like grizzly bears, bull trout, and Lynx.

The bad

Unfortunately, because of its exclusions of special interests, the result of the collaborative process hailed by the promoters, the bill destroys the proposed addition of wilderness for the Monture stream. Mount Creek is a critically important roadless area that includes critical habitat designated federally for lynx and bull trout under the Endangered Species Act. It also provides secure habitat for grizzly bears and is a stronghold for native Westslope Cutthroat Trout. It is also an important corridor for elk migration from the wilderness of the scapegoat to the wintering grounds below.

Instead, the bill cuts Monture Creek’s roadless land in half while designating more than 5,000 acres of that critical public land as playgrounds for snowmobiles and mountain bikes. The Forest Service has already testified that the trails in the region are incompatible for mountain biking and that such use will have an impact on wildlife. It is also opening up the rest of these increasingly scarce roadless areas for logging companies to bulldoze and clearcut.

The ugly one

Tester’s bill also sets a horrible precedent by exempting proposed projects from a thorough environmental scan and the possibility of a full public review, comment and objection required by existing environmental laws. By granting these exemptions to private interest groups, the wealth and well-being of our national forests are essentially accruing to private companies and special interest groups.

For example, bills must be paid without public participation. An unlimited number of logging projects up to 3,000 acres each are “categorically excluded” from the National Environmental Policy Act. By breaking them into pieces, tens of thousands of acres of logging will not be analyzed for cumulative environmental impacts and the public, who own these forests, will not even have the opportunity to review, let alone comment or to oppose logging and the road. -building.

Instead, the bill transforms management under the rubric of “stewardship” to corporate logging and recreational special interests to build and maintain roads and trails for motorized and mechanized use in wildlife-sensitive areas. and without a road. The Forest Service testified to this provision threatens the upcoming revision of Lolo’s national forest plan by severely limiting their management options.

Can it get worse?

from Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines, has already announced He will only support S.1493 if he is associated with his new bill revoking long-standing protections for the Congress-designated nature study area on more than 300,000 acres of public land in Montana.

Do you think that will never happen? As part of the collaborative “deal” to pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act in 2014, which set a terrible precedent – which Daines now hopes to use – Tester has joined Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBiden appoints Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China Cryptocurrency industry presses Washington for ‘regulatory clarity’ to support the opening of 208,000 acres of roadless land to logging, road construction and permanent livestock grazing without environmental review and the removal of 29,000 acres of existing wilderness study areas .

There is a real “stewardship” alternative

The Blackfoot River is a national treasure, but under Tester’s Bill, for-profit logging companies tell the Forest Service where they want to clear-cut to maximize their profits. Instead of preserving the sources of this famous river, the American public will be left with clearcuts filled with noxious weeds and a spiderweb of eroding forest roads dumping smothering sediment for fish into the once pristine creek.

The sensible alternative is the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), which has already been introduced to both the United States House and Senate as HR 1755 and S. 1276. The measure designates all of our shrinking roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness areas, including the Blackfoot springs. NREPA will in fact protect our national forests for future generations and endangered species that depend on their still intact forest ecosystems – and this is much safer than handing over these public resources to the “stewardship” of logging companies, mountain bikers and snowmobilers.

Mike Garrity is the Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

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