Dear Senator Daines:
I attended the roundtable hosted at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Missoula last week. We appreciate the opportunity to engage you on the issues important to Montana.
Much was stated by industry regarding the federal government’s mismanagement of forests. You know as well as we that the mismanagement of forests has been two sided – extraction industries have left us with a legacy of ruined forests and waters of Montana. Whether the state or industry can responsibly manage Montana’s natural resources is questionable. For example there are 470 impaired water bodies in Montana and the state and counties have done little to bring them back. If anything is Montana’s greatest asset it is water.
That said we can be optimistic about Montana’s natural assets’ contribution to the economy whether for jobs or tourism, but most importantly, for the enjoyment by Montana’s citizenry. These are recommendations that can contribute to Montana’s responsible management of those assets:
1. Delineate clearly the amount and forest management techniques of timber per year and specific areas where it can be harvested responsibly; require timber companies to post bonds for restoration and damages resulting from mismanagement; and, require companies to pay a tax to be paid to counties for infrastructure and school funding.
2. Include watershed management in any discussion of forests.
3. Require industry to engage directly for the near- and long-terms the Forest Service and state Natural Resource divisions in discussions and planning for timber harvesting.
4. As was stated at the meeting, fund forest fire management separately from Forest Service so as the Forest Service focuses on the science of forest management “doing the job they do best.”
5. Require local involvement in the form of an oversight committee comprised of the Forest Service, city and county elected officials, industry, conservation and preservation groups, environmental groups, and local citizens to advise and monitor forest management for their county.
6. Regarding multiple use – I am an off-road motorcyclist and have traveled backroads in 11 western states. If I have observed anything regarding access it is the lack of enforcement by local, county or state at these roads and much abuse is not unusual. If multiple use is included in any reform it must include regular patrolling and fines for abuse otherwise access should not be allowed.
In no way construe these recommendations as an endorsement of state takeover of public lands. We seek to find a path for cooperative use of public lands so as to preserve them.
Keep in mind that both Montanans and tourists have indicated a number of times that our greatest assets are Montana’s extraordinary and uncompromised natural beauty and that tourism in Montana and other western states that have such assets is a major, if not the major, economic driver.
Terry Marasco, Businessman, Ravalli County
Cobey Williamson, Ravalli County
Janice Lee, Ravalli County
Marci Smith, Ravalli County, Victor School Board Vice Chair Dave Smith, Ravalli County, Owner, Smith Roofing, Inc.
Nancy Schneider, Ravalli County
John Grove, Ravalli County, Retired FS staff officer Carlotta Grandstaff, Ravalli County Philip Romans, Ravalli County