Senator Tester Slips Bill Calling for Mandatory Logging of Public Lands into Omnibus Spending Bill
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16. Contains no Congressional mandates for any reclamation or restoration of roaded, logged, and developed National Forest lands and watersheds. If restoration is attempted, scientists believe it will likely fail, due to the high altitudes, steep slopes, no soil, minimal precipitation (east of the Continental Divide), extremely short growing seasons, and global climate change, which has already stressed high altitude forests to their breaking points (for example, high altitude species such as white bark pines and pikas are fast approaching extinction). Such extreme conditions create timber “mining,” rather than sustainable forestry.
17. Disenfranchises public lands stakeholders throughout the nation unable to personally attend on-site “resource advisory committees.”
18. Eliminates long-established Forest Service citizen participation procedures, including appeals of illegal and environmentally destructive roading, logging, and development.
19. Promotes the burning of forest biomass in power plants, a practice even more polluting than burning coal. Due to its low energy content, burning wood releases 1.5 times the carbon dioxide than burning coal to produce the same amount of energy. Carbon dioxide is a key component of greenhouse gases causing global climate change.
20. Encourages off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and other motorized access into currently roadless Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Wilderness-eligible wildlands.
21. “Undesignates” the Axolotl Lakes Wilderness Study Area, Bell/Limekiln Canyons Wilderness Study Area, East Fork Blacktail/Blacktail Mountains Wilderness Study Area, Farlin Creek Wilderness Study Area, Henneberry Ridge Wilderness Study Area, Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, Ruby Mountains Wilderness Study Area, and Hidden Pasture Wilderness Study Area. These roadless wildlands would be subjected to “logging without laws,” as Tester’s bill excludes their roading and logging from protective provisions of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
22. Overrides legitimate forest planning processes that involve full public information and participation.
23. Severely impacts at-risk, rare, threatened, and endangered species. Since the Tester bill Congressionally-mandates timber cuts, curtails forest planning and public involvement, and severely restricts the Forest Service from accurately assessing logging’s impacts; environmental protections provided by the Endangered Species Act will be preempted.
By forcing unsustainable industrial-scale logging upon our fragile public wildlands, Tester’s bill would irrevocably harm essential habitats of rare, threatened, and endangered species that characterize the wild nature of the northern Rockies, such as the gray wolf, bull trout, cutthroat trout (Montana’s official state fish), otter, mountain goat, mountain sheep, elk, arctic grayling, northern goshawk, boreal owl, pileated woodpecker, ferruginous hawk, Montana vole, sage thrasher, wild bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, pine marten, fisher, lynx, wolverine, and grizzly bear (Montana’s official state animal).
24. Ignores the scientific need to protect different elevation habitats and their dependent species. Conservation biologists have long understood the need to protect these different elevation habitats and dependent species with designated core areas, buffer zones, and connecting biological corridors, or linkages.
More recently, scientists have documented that forest habitats are changing radically, due to global climate change. The species depending on our National Forests for survival are increasingly stressed by climate change and are increasingly in need of broader migration opportunities.
25. Eliminates essential core habitats and severs connecting roadless biological and botanical corridors, or linkages, between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Salmon-Selway Ecosystem, and the Glacier/Bob Marshall Ecosystem.
Collectively, these ecosystems and connecting wildlands comprise the Northern Rockies Ecosystem. By fragmenting all of these public wildlands, Tester’s bill would spell the end of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem, the ONLY functioning ecosystem with all its native species remaining in the lower 49 states.
26. Extirpates wildlife species. Because the Tester bill overrides the Endangered Species Act, promotes “logging without laws,” and severely restricts Forest Service scientists from accurately assessing logging’s impacts, the public will never know the full extent to which at-risk secluded, rare, threatened, and endangered species will be adversely impacted. Species such as wolverine, pika, and pure strain cutthroat trout are already teetering on the brink of extinction.