Clean | Green | Sustainable

Montana Fast-Tracking Logging in Old-Growth, Critical Habitat

Posted by Matthew Koehler on May 7, 2009

Friends of the Wild Swan sent out the following action alert yesterday.  Apparently,  the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) is fast tracking timber sales in old-growth forest and critical habitat for Grizzly bear, Bull trout and Canada lynx without providing protection for these important conservation areas or allowing an opportunity for the public to comment on these timber sales.

Specifically, the Beaver Swift Skyles Timber Sale Project logs five million board feet (equal to about 1,000 log truck loads) off 5,500 acres including 900 acres of old-growth forest habitat. The Olney Interface Project logs four to six million board feet off 896 acres including  25 acres of old-growth habitat.

DNRC has completed Environmental Assessments for these projects but did not allow the public to comment.  They intend to ask the Land Board to approve these sales on May 13th.  Ask the Land Board to direct the DNRC to issue a draft Environmental Assessment, fully consider the public’s comments and incorporate those comments into the final decision.

Got Habitat?

These projects log in critical grizzly bear, bull trout and Canada lynx habitat. For seven years, the DNRC has dragged its feet in developing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that would ensure the long-term survival of these imperiled species and their habitat.  In the meantime, the state is liquidating those very areas that the animals need to survive.

Timely completion of the Habitat Conservation Plan is important to make sure that DNRC’s rules and policies are in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and do not result in “taking” of threatened or endangered species.

Old-Growth Forest Liquidation

DNRC is liquidating old-growth forest habitat at a breakneck pace without a plan.  This project results in a loss of approximately 900 acres of old-growth forest.  Existing old-growth stands are fragmented – more logging means habitat connectivity will be severely fractured resulting in less biological diversity.

DNRC has no plan for maintaining old-growth forest habitat.  They have no plan for putting younger-aged stands on longer rotations so that they will develop old-growth attributes essential for many species of birds and wildlife.  No plan for putting stands on longer rotations so that habitat is connected.  And no plan for putting existing old-growth stands on longer rotations so that this component of the forest is retained.  DNRC needs to develop an old-growth network on the Stillwater State Forest before it logs any more of this important wildlife habitat.

Fiscal Responsibility

In the current timber market, it makes no economic or ecological sense to liquidate these last remaining pockets of important habitat.  The five million board feet Beaver Swift Skyles timber sale is projected to net the schools only $183,750.

DNRC intends to log hundreds of acres of irreplaceable critical habitat at rock bottom prices. It will be many hundreds of years before these lands will return to Old Growth conditions and the animals can’t wait that long.

What you can do
• Contact the Land Board Members (see below) today and demand that the Beaver/Swift/Skyles and Olney Interface Timber Sales, and all other planned sales in key habitat are halted until the DNRC acts to protect endangered species as required by federal law.

• Halt Old Growth logging until an Old Growth Management Plan is formalized

• Ask the Land Board Members to direct DNRC to provide a full and formal public comment period and to integrate those comments into their final analysis.

Montana Board of Land Commissioners
Brian Schweitzer – Governor
Linda McCulloch – Secretary of State
Denise Juneau – Superintendent of Public Instruction
Steve Bullock – Attorney General
Monica Lindeen – State Auditor

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2 Responses to “Montana Fast-Tracking Logging in Old-Growth, Critical Habitat”

  1. […] Matthew Koehler placed an interesting blog post on Montana Fast-Tracking Logging in Old-Growth, Critical Habitat …Here’s a brief overviewApparently, the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) is fast tracking timber sales in old-growth forest and critical habitat for Grizzly bear, Bull trout and Canada lynx without providing protection for these important … […]

  2. You would think a state like Montana would be one of the leaders in conservation and the greening of America.

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