Lee Metcalf would despise Tester’s Blackfoot bill
The Blackfoot River and Clearwater River confluence near Clearwater, Montana (Photo via Wikimedia Commons | CC-BY-SA 4.0).
Privatizes Management of Public Land
Under the rubric of “stewardship,” the bill actually grants both logging and mechanized “wreckreation” interests the right to construct roads and trails within sensitive wildlife areas.
It Can – and May – Get Worse
Sen. Steve Daines says he will only support S.1493 if it is paired with his new bill opening a stunning 300,000 acres of congressionally-designated Wilderness Study Areas to development – almost four times the amount of wilderness Tester’s bill would designate.
Think this would never happen? As part of the collaborative “deal” to pass the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act in 2014, Tester and Senator Baucus opened 208,000 acres of roadless lands to logging, road building, and permanent livestock grazing without environmental review, and supported removing 29,000 acres of existing Wilderness Study Areas. That “deal” set the precedent, Daines will duplicate to open even more wilderness quality lands to development.
There’s a Real “Stewardship” Alternative
The Blackfoot River is a national treasure, but under Tester’s bill, timber companies tell the Forest Service where they want to clearcut to their maximize profits. The result? The American public will be left with vast noxious weed-infested clearcuts and a spider web of logging roads eroding tons of sediment into the Blackfoot’s spawning streams.
Is there a sensible alternative? Yes, there is. The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) has already been introduced in Congress as H.R.1755 (House) and S.1276 (Senate). The measure designates all of our dwindling Northern Rockies roadless areas as Wilderness Areas, protecting far more of the Blackfoot’s watershed than Tester’s bill.
NREPA maintains intact national forests for future generations as well as the threatened species whose survival requires functioning forest ecosystems. Were Lee Metcalf still alive, he’d tell you it’s far more prudent policy than Tester’s bill, which turns our public lands over to timber corporations and intrusive mechanical “wreckreation.”
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