As Montana Wilderness Association abandoned its name in favor of one without the word, wilderness, in it, so too has it abandoned the fierce ethics of its origins. We now find a big-money NGO beholden to the ideology of its profit-first sources of income. "Wild Montana" now can "sit down and have a beer" with the recreation-timber-forest management industrial complex, as though breaking bread with takers nullifies their destructivity. Just look at the so-called "collaboration and compromise"-derived Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT.
In order to maintain a large income stream, the former MWA and their industrial complex brethren grossly misrepresent what the BCSA would effect. Of course, they paint it as a victory for everyone, flooding the public discourse in a way that most citizens believe their concerns are being prudently nurtured.
In fact, the BCSA would permit a great amount of logging of now roadless and wilderness-quality lands, primarily to supply commercial forest products to Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company in Seeley Lake, Montana. Even more worrisomely, it would do so in a manner that bypasses crucial environmental regulatory laws and procedures. In its legislation mandating 10 years of logging with limited public oversight, it would set a precedent for future mandated levels of "the cut" without any legal bulwark against unchecked greed.
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It also would open significant further incursions into still wild lands by both motorized and mechanized recreation.
The Monture Inventoried Roadless Area, prime grizzly bear habitat, is currently closed year-round to motorized recreation use. Prime range for wintering elk as well, the area would become the Otatsy Recreation Management Area, with road and trail building and motorized use bordering their proposed Wilderness addition. Not only that, but BCSA wording might bar judicial challenges based on ecological concerns, if you can imagine that condoned by an environmental group!
Similarly, the BCSA's Spread Mountain Recreation Area would share an extensive border on three sides with designated Wilderness, establishing a 3,800-acre play area for mountain bike users. Combined with the adjacent Otatsy Recreation Management Area, significant disturbance to grizzly bears, elk herds and other wildlife would occur.
These are but a few examples of the compromises committed by the crafters of the BCSA, compromises you are not supposed to notice or to think too hard about. The "collaborative" has spent vast sums of publicly derived grant money to present a face to you of sound stewardship and community peacemaking. Their censorship of the rest of the story is very polished.
To resist the temptations and lures of such polish is no small feat. ... But, as Rick Reese put it in a recent interview by Todd Wilkinson in Mountain Journal, “People who don’t understand ... will take as much as they can get. ... The takers need to be met with an equal amount of resistance from people who are not willing to surrender or give away things that, once gone, cannot be replaced.”
Let's be perfectly clear here. Reese's thoughts refer not only to the recreation-timber-forest management industrial complex, but to Big Greens like Wild Montana (né Montana Wilderness Association). As of this writing, MWA is unapologetically promoting similar compromises of ecological concern on all Montana Wilderness Study Areas!
As a past president of Montana Wilderness Association, I wish these things were not so, but wishing and reality are not the same thing. The likelihood that compromised environmental groups will awaken from their fantasy is remote. Rather, en masse, you members and supporters must think for yourselves, against the very strong pressures the Greens will place on you, and either demand that they make a public and full about-face, or you publicly withdraw your support from them and take responsibility for spreading the word.
Joseph Scalia III is a psychoanalyst and environmental critic and writer. He is president of Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance, and a past president of Montana Wilderness Association.