By Caitlin Fox
Bitterroot Salvage Logging Plan
Greetings from Western Montana! The Bitterroot-Mission Group has had its fingers in a number of pies since last spring, most notably in opposing the massive salvage logging plan in the Bitterroot National Forest. This summer, we helped sponsor a panel discussion, organized by the Ecology Center, on the subject. In July, the executive committee attended the post-fire Environmental Impact Statement meeting in Hamilton in lieu of our regularly scheduled program. The Bitterroot salvage logging debacle recently came to a head when environmental groups and the Forest Service were court-ordered to participate in a mediation process. This resulted in the Forest Service removing a total of 27,000 acres slated for logging from the project, agreeing not to log about 15,000 acres of uninventoried roadless areas out of 17,000 acres originally proposed, and replanting about 33,000 acres. Road closure and decommisioning and non-logging restoration will occur as proposed. In addition, thousands of acres of bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout habitat will be protected in Skalkaho, Sleeping Child, Tolan, Rye and Blue Joint Creeks; also, watershed restoration work will increase in two important native fish strongholds, Skalkaho and Sleeping Child Creeks. In turn, the environmental groups agreed to drop the lawsuits, and not contest about 14,000 acres of logging. (See settlement fact sheet on page 11.)
Energy and Trade
The BMG has been busy networking as well--several members of the executive board have been keeping us updated on the efforts of campaigns ranging from energy deregulation to protesting the upcoming G8 meeting in Calgary this summer. Last spring, Jim Curtis brought us regular reports on the activities of the energy deregulation meetings of The Citizens Energy Policy Council. Ron Mueller attended the nascent plans for protesting the Calgary G8 meeting scheduled for June. Plans include a two or three day street fair in Missoula, an education conference, and a high-profile bike caravan from Missoula to Calgary.
The executive committee meeting for December included a presentation by the Clark Fork Coalition on the removal of the Milltown Dam. The CFC feels the director of the Environmental Protection Agency is leaning toward removal, but the campaign would benefit from pressure from a national organization such as the Sierra Club.
In keeping with the theme of diverse issues, the Bitterroot-Mission Group organized a series of monthly speakers last spring and summer. Jennifer Ferenstein introduced the national Sierra Club Lewis and Clark campaign. Other topics included a slide show on the Red Rocks Wilderness and a presentation of transboundary conservation issues in the Flathead valley.
New BMG Email Alerts
One last note--the Bitterroot-Mission Group action-alert listserve will be up and running as you read this. We’re trying new ways of informing members about how they can get involved, so if you’d like to sign on, follow the instructions on the next page.
Sierra Club Opens Missoula Office
The Montana Chapter of Sierra Club is very pleased to announce that Bob Clark has been hired to fill a regional staff position with Sierra Club in Missoula. Bob will be working on a Map, Monitor and Guard project surveying uninventoried roadless areas in western Montana. Look for future announcements about how members can be involved in these wildland surveys. Bob will also be working on the Lewis and Clark Campaign with the Bitterroot-Mission Group. Welcome Bob!