Technology and machines are invading rural homes, schools and businesses, transforming the private and public values that have long defined the quality of life in Montana. Fragments of the jungle fall on man’s substitute: expensive, more powerful machines.
Year-round residents in towns like Seeley Lake and Lincoln have always struggled to make ends meet. Local businesses have always worked hard just to stay afloat. Life in Montana has always been a struggle for survival; it makes us smile.
Of late, political agents with fancy titles and degrees in political science and social engineering are trying to sell Montanans a fable that these isolated communities were once thriving mining and logging towns. According to Webster, to prosper means “to grow vigorously, to prosper, or to gain in wealth or possessions: to prosper.” My question to these (self-proclaimed) superior intellectuals: Is that true?
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Using their “superior intellect” and revisionist history as a political battering ram, these modern settler/financier trusts polarize communities by creating fear and chaos. Like any good pitchman selling “products,” they have a ready-made solution. Divide and conquer is their game, colonization, enslavement and plunder their goal.
Experiencing the true wild country, catching a wild trout, or viewing wildlife in its natural habitat are precious values most Americans lost long ago. Montana is being overrun by wealthy newcomers and tourists who demand a little of what Montanans have always had in abundance. Quality of life isn’t just measured in dollars and cents.
Thousands of commenters opposing the expansion of Holland Lake Lodge through categorical exclusion clearly see this loophole being widely abused to benefit a select few.
The Lincoln Prosperity Proposal and the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (Senator Tester’s Wilderness Plunder Act) promise a “good life” through expanded commercial exploitation and domestication. The logging of de facto backcountry wilderness and the pounding of local roads and trails with Sprinter vans and mountain bikes is fragmenting the rural community.
The Tester’s bill is a deregulation bill that disregards public participation and sound environmental analysis. Recovery is logging, pure and simple. The poison pill embedded in Tester’s Blackfoot law is the expanded, codified use of categorical exclusions. The leveling of new forest roads fragments the roadless landscape. If recovery logging is excluded from NEPA verification, the tester’s frontal attack on citizen enforcement and judicial review will succeed.
The hinterland of Seeley Lake is currently protected by the Clinton-era Roadless Rule.
The Lincoln Prosperity Proposal reclassifies approximately 70,000 acres for accelerated “forest restoration” near Lincoln. The “greater administrative flexibility” legislation is a recipe for forest plundering. Make no mistake, recovery means NEPA-exempt logging.
Three “reserves” totaling 63,000 acres are reserved for extended conservation, or more specifically, high-altitude mountain bike play areas. Subtract 63,000 acres.
A further subtraction is required to account for the 10,600 roadless acres (de facto wilderness) set aside for ATVs and dirt bike playgrounds.
By my calculation, this amounts to 70,000 + 63,000 + 10,600 = 143,600 acres, subtracted from 200,000 acres of existing inventoried roadless lands. All 143,600 acres of small “W” wilderness will be converted to accommodate motorized recreation and mountain biking, including e-bikes – a stunning loss.
Most supporters of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act legislation and the Lincoln Prosperity proposal believe they support wilderness protection. Neither initiative protects wilderness features or wildlife habitat values in inventoried roadless areas (IRAs). Neither preserves Montana’s quality of life.
To avoid self-inflicted damage to Montana’s values, why not consider a more holistic option? The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), which protects all IRAs in the five-state Wild Rockies Bioregion. No CEs, no clear cuts. “…the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
Steve Kelly is a wilderness and wildlife activist, artist and gardener based in Bozeman.