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Dry wetlands

Near the Blacktail Creek headwaters, this area in the Highlands used to be wetlands but has dried up thanks to historical clearcutting and beaver removal. Conservation groups and the Forest Service are trying to use low-impact restoration work to bring the area back to what it was.

The Prussian “Iron Chancellor” Otto Von Bismarck is often credited with the saying: “To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”

The Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017, the subject of a recent Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., is the illegitimate offspring of timber-industry lobbyists, U.S. Sens. Steve Daines, R-Montana, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming.

This proposed new federal law is 21st century virtual “sausage” with no substance, fabricated to deceive for one purpose, and one purpose only: maximum corporate profit. Don’t avert your eyes; instead, reach for the reading glasses to understand the bill’s mal-intent.

Since the 1988 “Yellowstone fires,” wildfire and the fear of wildfire has been a beard for industrial-strength destruction of America’s forests. Corporate propaganda surrounds us like water engulfs fish. Clearcutting has increased dramatically.

Every new clearcut is linked to a sawmill by bulldozing a new road deeper and deeper into the primeval forest. The objective is to kill the last, best (old growth) trees for a few shekels. U.S. Forest Service logging targets have steadily increased. Hand and glove, so too have subsidies and industry profits. Daines and Barrasso believe no physical or legal limits should restrain corporate looters’ relentless attacks against Mother Nature.

Sausage, however, may not be the best analogy to describe this multi-purpose act against nature. I’m thinking minestrone. Minestrone is a full-bodied Italian soup made with vegetables, featuring whatever vegetables are in season.

Here’s some of what’s “in season” for this pot of congressional soup:

• Reduce citizen enforcement of federal environmental laws (deregulation).

• Create (legal loopholes) categorical exclusions for misguided sage grouse and mule deer projects.

• Create a five-year pilot program to deny judicial review to plaintiffs.

• Specifically overturns a 9th Circuit Court precedent.

• The so-called national “forest health crisis” is one giant fraud. It’s all about money.

“We need forest management reform now to reduce the severity and intensity of wildfires and create more good-paying jobs,” said Senator Daines. More bad acting and “fake news” from the Washington "idiocracy." Clearly, Daines has pedigree, net worth in the millions of dollars, title and extreme privilege. All that superficial persona and status cannot mask his intended role to feign general ignorance and arrogance about nature, or his abnormal loathing for one of God’s most sacred gifts to humanity. So, what is real: forests or Sen. Steve Daines? Only one is truth, the other is false.

Government has never created a forest, not one. For over 100 years government has permitted and licensed corporations to monetize and destroy priceless, living beings (forest ecosystems) and all life that depend on forests to persist. As a powerful corporate-government agent, Senator Daines commits unspeakable crimes against nature and violates natural law – the foundation of all man-made law — by undervaluing forests in only money (mammon) and ignoring the key role fires play in keeping forests on the landscape. Fires are not bad. The problem is people and money, not forests or wildfires.

A good lawmaker, like a good chef, should always taste the minestrone before serving it to honored quests. If it’s made with love, charity and good intent, it will likely be something nature can support. If not, it defiles mature, enhancing the matrix-system that has already begun our descent down into madness and slavery. There is a right path and a wrong one. It’s time for each of us to choose, before we lose our ability to even contemplate choice. 

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Steve Kelly is a former tree-planter and forest activist with over 35 years of experience fighting “in the trenches” against clearcuts. He resides in Bozeman and is co-founder and a current board member with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

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