Blackfoot-Clearwater Plan Can Help Wildlife, Native Trout, Communities | Chroniclers






TIM LOVE


In November, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA) was heard by a Senate committee, putting the bill on track for passage next year.

As a member of the Steering Committee of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project (BCSP), I participated in the development of the bill. I am proud that the most recent poll shows that 75% of Montanais, across the political spectrum, support the bill. This is because the steering committee carefully considered how the bill can best meet the needs of the Blackfoot fish and wildlife populations, and the people who live, work and play in the area. .

Our bill adds nearly 80,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Mission Mountains wilderness areas, permanently protecting the four most critical tributaries of the Blackfoot River and helping to maintain the health of the entire basin. hydrographic. This health is crucial for native trout, grizzly bears and other wildlife. It is also crucial to the local outdoor recreation economy and the jobs that depend on it.

In hopes of reducing environmentalist support for the BCSA, opponents of the bill have disseminated misleading information about the bill, particularly in relation to its forestry provisions. This simple fact is lost: the legislation does not impose or even initiate a single harvest of timber. The bill also does not allow the Forest Service to waive environmental reviews of any potential timber sales in the region.

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The legislation requires the Forest Service to conduct a landscape assessment of the area’s restoration needs and develop a schedule to meet them. This assessment will take place as part of the upcoming forest planning process, whether or not the bill is passed.

Opponents are also unaware that all of the BCSP’s forest restoration goals have already been met – through the Southwest Crown of the Continent Collaborative (SWCCC), an offshoot of the BCSP.

Thanks to Sen. To test, the SWCCC received $ 35 million in federal investment over a decade ago to carry out several environmentally sound and much-needed forest restoration projects. With this initial investment, SWCCC injected $ 92 million into the local economy and created or maintained 153 jobs.

To date, this investment has enabled SWCCC to:

– Reduce fuels on 28,500 acres of the forest-urban interface in the Blackfoot, greatly protecting communities and hundreds of homes from wildfires.

– Restore over 200 miles of waterways.

– Improve nearly 63,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

– Treat over 57,000 acres for invasive and alien species.

– Downgrade more than 200 miles of roads.

– Collect 47 placer mines.

– Maintain 3,500 miles of multi-use trails.

As the local company leading most of these forestry projects, Pyramid Lumber has been instrumental in producing much of the nearly 200,000 ccf of commercial wood products resulting from the SWCC, helping it to provide dozens of stable rural jobs. Although the company could not benefit financially from the passage of the BCSA, Pyramid nonetheless approved the bill, proving itself to be a good faith partner for the conservation groups, outfitters, ranchers and others who make up the BCSP.

Opponents of the BCSA are likely coming from places where this kind of cooperation does not exist, where bipartisanship and collaboration are dirty words, and where ideological purity means more than offering viable solutions for public lands or government. good public.

As the author and my friend John Maclean (son of Norman) remind us in a recent Washington Post column in support of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, “conservation is not a zero-sum game.”

The BCSP believes in it wholeheartedly. We believe we can protect wildlife, native trout and water quality while helping businesses and communities thrive along the Blackfoot.

Tim Love was the US Forest Service District Ranger for the Seeley Lake Ranger District in the Lolo National Forest for almost twenty years, retiring in 2014, after which he joined the BCSP Steering Committee.

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