MTPR

logging

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

Montana's U.S. senators are getting behind a new bill they say will help Montana's most rural counties round-out their budgets.

Mineral County Commissioner Duane Simons says communities like his are reeling after Congress failed to renew the Secure Rural Schools Act last fall.

FH Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, MT
Eric Whitney

Tuesday in Columbia Falls, Senator Steve Daines kicked off a series of three meetings in western Montana that he’s calling “Forest Management Reform Roundtables.”

Around the table were executives from three timber mills, county commissioners from Sanders, Lincoln and Mineral counties, and Montana leaders of The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy,  and the National Parks Conservation Organization.

Sen. Steve Daines.
Courtesy photo

Montana’s Senators are back from Washington and gathering input on transportation and timber issues.

Friday Democrat Jon Tester convened several panels in Helena to prepare for when the federal highway bill expires in May. He invited representatives from transportation, Chamber of Commerce and agriculture and construction companies to talk about the importance of good highways and bridges in Montana.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana's timber counties recently lost lots of federal revenue. Local officials say public services are going to suffer as a result.

"It's very scary. We're pretty bare bones out here the way it is," said Mineral County Commissioner Duane Simons.

"What do we do? We've got a four-man road crew. Do you lay four guys off? Do you lay three guys off? We've got some real difficult choices ahead of us here."

He's talking about the loss of federal "Secure Rural Schools" funds. The program expired this fall and wasn't reauthorized by Congress.

Flickr user SBebee

Dupuyer-area rancher, Karl Rappold, is thrilled that the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act has finally passed.

"My grandparents and my mom and dad took care of this place. the bears and wolves and everything else. This is a historic deal for me to see that my grandkids and their grandkids will hopefully have this same view and this same region will be protected so it will never change," says Rappold.  

Last week Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which now awaits President Obama's signature.

Mwest85 (CC-BY-3.0)

A federal judge in Missoula has called a halt to the 1,700 acre Lonesome Wood logging sale in the Gallatin National forest.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued to stop it under the Endangered Species Act.

Mike Garrity with the Alliance says the U.S. Forest Service didn’t adequately study how logging would affect threatened lynx and grizzly bears.

The Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

The U.S House has approved a $585 billion defense bill that includes unrelated provisions to expand wilderness areas. The vote was 300 to 119.

The measure allows President Obama to expand America's military mission against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. It now moves to the Senate where some Republicans object to the unrelated wilderness measures announced yesterday.

Montana's congressional delegation heralded the suite of included land bills as a historic, rare display of collaboration and Congressional bipartisanship. Some Montana environmental groups agree.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

The U.S. Forest Service's Northern Region met its timber harvest goal last year. That’s the first time that has happened in over 14 years.

Regional Forester Faye Krueger says Region One, which includes Montana, harvested about 280 million board feet of timber.

Krueger says a major factor in the agency reaching its goal is that it's  overhauled its litigation strategy.

The Need For Comprehensive Federal Forest Reforms

Aug 19, 2014

There has been quite a bit of opinion writing lately about whether members of congress should focus on place-based federal forestland pilots, or whether they should work to pass comprehensive federal forest reforms.

On the one hand, place-based efforts are homegrown initiatives that carve out temporary solutions to meet local needs, while a comprehensive reform package offers sweeping changes that land managers, timber companies and timber-dependent communities can rely on for the long-term.

Word-Play As A Solution To Western Wildfires

Aug 15, 2014

The 2014 Western wildfire season got an early start with large fires in Washington and Oregon that left those living in Western Montana gagging on the resulting smoke that seemed to be continuously recycled through our valleys. As the summer progresses, we all have our fingers crossed that our own home-grown wildfires will not re-create the “nuclear winter” of thick smoke blocking out the sun at mid-day that we have had to live through in summers past.

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