I am a current resident of Missoula, but was a longtime resident of Sanders County. I have spent many years living and hiking in the forests and wilderness areas around Plains and Thompson Falls and still have a personal interest in the area.
I have questions regarding Jon Tester’s S. 1470 (Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009).
The Great Burn roadless complex near Superior was noticeably absent from S. 1470. The Great Burn has been included in nine wilderness bills introduced in Congress between 1984 and 1992, none of which have become law. Trespass by snowmobilers on the Montana side of the Great Burn is a major problem for this area. Why was this region near Superior not included?
The Cube Iron/ Mt. Silcox area near Thompson Falls was included in a 1988 wilderness bill but was once again omitted in Tester’s legislation. Why was this region ignored?
The Kootenai National Forest is over 2.2 million acres and currently contains the threatened 94,360-acre Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The only wilderness additions to the forest in S.1470 are the 30,000-acre Roderick Mountain area in the Tree Rivers Ranger District. Even as Tester’s office acknowledges that the mandatory logging in the region are expected to expand outside this TRRD into other areas that were not considered for wilderness designation. Why was the Scotchman Peaks not included? Why were additions to the beleaguered Cabinet Mountains Wilderness not considered?
This bill sets a dangerous precedent for designating any more wilderness in Montana. The Montana Wilderness Association, headed by Jan Sensibaugh, who once worked for Montana Department of Environmental Quality and was the person who approved the Rock Creek mine that is planned for tunneling under the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, for some reason is in favor of this bill. (MWA helped write the legislation!) When I wrote to her and asked her these questions, the only response I got was an invitation to join her group. Funny thing, I might have joined the group if she had only answered my questions.