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Bitterrooters from Hamilton to Victor should prepare to have their view of the Sapphire Mountains marred by Bitterroot National Forest’s Gold-Butterfly logging project.

This enormous timber sale on the Sapphire front will commercially log over 8- square-miles, create numerous clearcuts, and cut old growth.

In recent newspaper articles, BNF did not disclose the 16 miles of road construction along “undetermined” roads that are now overgrown and invisible. Adding those to the 24 miles of new permanent and “temporary” roads BNF admits to means 40 miles of new logging roads.

The 22 miles of roads to be decommissioned do little to counter this because only one mile will need any on-the-ground work; the rest are already overgrown and naturally reclaimed. Be advised also that the Willow Creek forest road will be closed to public use on weekdays for up to 8 years.

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This timber “sale” will only cost you, the taxpayer, $760,000. Restoration work would add another $1 million, but this more important work “is dependent on funding” and rarely completed.

The public had overwhelmingly asked for a smaller and less costly project without new roads. While the deadline for formal comments has long past, the court of public opinion is always open. Contact Matt Anderson, BNF Supervisor, 363-7100, matthew.anderson3@usda.gov, or Steve Brown, Stevensville District Ranger, 777-5461, steve.brown2@usda.us. And now BNF is proposing an even larger project for the entire Bitterroot Mountains front that might do the same thing there.

— Jeff Lonn, Hamilton

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