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'Obstructionists' win, science loses

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice." The author is obscure, but the message is appropriate for resource-dependent communities in northwestern Montana.

The "old growth" farce on the Kootenai Forest is a prime example. The Forest Service did an exemplary job in preparing this offering. It is based on scientific data applied by professionals in appropriate disciplines. The obstructionists from Missoula and Spokane have scarcely visited the area. Their two or three visits compared to months of work by professionals working to create a healthy, viable, sustainable forest. The judicial bias is evident.

The Lolo Forest road repair and post-burn salvage was shut down because the five streams will not be improved. The hydrologists and soil scientists don't know enough about those streams. The "obstructionists" are the judge's sole source of information. Their non-scientific assessment is based on personal bias and poor judgment. Legality and justice are not synonyms. The Bitterroot National Forest post-fire salvage is another of emotion and power superseding professionalism and dedication. The Flathead National Forest and the Moose Fire rehabilitation are being subjected to the same type of harassment. The outcome will be the same in each of these examples. The communities and their local residents will pay the price.

The Beaverhead National Forest timber sale program was shut down in the '70s by a judge in Hawaii. The same results are now available in Montana.

To destroy our future forests and communities through false information and individual prejudice should be unacceptable in America.

It's the norm in northwestern Montana.

John F. Hossack,

P.O. Box 352, Eureka

Don't confuse restoration with logging

The Missoulian's May 6 opinion on the Lolo National Forest post-burn logging program misses the mark. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies challenged the Forest Service decision not out of opposition to all logging, but in opposition to logging which does not follow well-established laws and the Forest Service's own plans and regulations. If the Forest Service would follow these long thought-out plans, the odds of "leaving management to the professionals" would be much greater.

In addition to polluting our streams, the logging alone would have lost $2.8 million, according to the Lolo National Forest's budget. Data from Lolo National Forest timber cut and sale records reveals that the Lolo National Forest has lost over $29 million on its timber program over the last 10 years. The greatest economic resource we have in this arid region is water. The Clean Water Act is specifically designed to safeguard the quality of this water. In selecting a plan that is heavy on money losing logging, the Forest Service failed to take the necessary steps to secure the purity and quality of our water. Thus the legal challenge and the recent court decision.

The Missoulian opinion appears to indicate that the timber industry and the Forest Service have become fire-dependent. While decrying the threat of large wildfires, such fires have become an opportunity for large timber sales which otherwise wouldn't be planned or allowed. In the haste to exploit these opportunities, vital forest resources such as water, native fish and wildlife do not get the protection and consideration that is required. While forest planners say that this is exactly what they have in mind with projects like the Lolo plan, fisheries biologists and water quality experts say otherwise.

Restoration, yes! Logging in the guise of restoration and fire protection, no!

Michael T. Garrity,

executive director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies

P.O. Box 8731, Missoula

Sierra Club doesn't have a clue

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In an April 29 Missoulian article by Sherry Devlin ("Lolo forest work comes to halt"), Bob Clark of the Sierra Club's Missoula office is quoted as saying, "And the mill itself is protected under the contract they signed with the Forest Service. They'll get their money." This statement is just so ludicrous and arrogant that it cannot go unchallenged.

First of all, to think that because Tricon Timber got to harvest half of the timber it contracted for instead of the full amount, everything is OK, shows the arrogance of these groups and their lack of understanding of the small sawmill business. This isn't just about the money; it's about a steady supply of logs for the mill.

While Tricon waits for the state of Montana to determine TMDL's for the affected streams, the timber rots, they go out of business and their employees are out of job.

Secondly, Clark has obviously never read the standard Forest Service timber sale contract and how it deals with situations such as this. It contains provisions that specifically deal with the interruption or delay of operations or termination of the contract to comply with a court order. These provisions clearly state the damages the government is liable for in a situation where a timber sale contract is interrupted, delayed or canceled due to a court order.

Those damages include out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of an interruption or termination. The provision defines out-of-pocket expenses very clearly and loss of profits or the replacement cost of timber is not included.

The result of this constant litigation over national forest management will be the loss of more small sawmills and the continued deterioration of the national forests. The sooner folks wake up and demand an end to the courts dictating the management of national forests, the better.

Tom Maffei,

712 North Central Road, Libby

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