Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Forest management

| July 7, 2023 7:00 AM

It was a decent opinion article, quite decent. Hannah Downey’s letter in the June 3 Inter Lake about forest management illuminates some of the many things that could or should be included in the national Farm Bill if we want to nurse our dilapidated forests back to health.

But, though welcomed, it is just a band aid because it does not explore the root cause for our diseased, dying and unhealthy forests and the smoke they emit every year: the policies and goals of eco-extremists, particularly roadless areas. Their narrow viewpoints absolutely necessitate changes to how our environmental laws are implemented.

The eco-extremists do not want us, the citizens and visitors to Montana, in the woods. Period. In years past, they could not get more wilderness areas passed by Congress so they went for “roadless” zones instead, which created pseudo wilderness regions.

In accomplishing this, they have effectuated the shutdown of almost 22,000 miles of roads in Western Montana and an estimated 70% of the roads in Flathead, Lincoln and Sanders counties. In other words, they say to us, “Public property, no trespassing allowed.”

They enforce this skewed view of our forests through lawsuits using environmental laws such as the ESA, the Clean Water Act and the like in tandem with their cohorts, our liberal judges.

Roads are our most important resource for public access, fire prevention and forest management. Without quick access to our woods, our ability to fight fires becomes terribly expensive, dangerous and in many cases, just plain flat impossible. Want less fires, smoke and healthy forests? It is simple — take care of our roads.

What is so irritating about this whole thing is the fact that the state of Montana manages forests under their control so much better. They actually make money and fires on their land are, generally speaking, small and controllable. In other words, we here in Montana do a much better job managing our forests than the federal government.

Our elected officials, starting with our Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, our House representatives, our governor and, in particular, our county commissioners must commit to demanding the implementation of environmental laws be turned over to our state which can better balance the multiple needs and goals of our citizens which include the economy, our health, protection of our environment, water, air and access of our citizens.

Without a doubt we can do it better than Washington D.C.

— Mark Agather, Kalispell