Letters published on Oct. 8, 2017

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Tester wrong about forest plans

Recently on Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio, there was a story about Sen. Tester and Sen. Daines’ efforts to overturn a U.S. Federal District Court ruling (which was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rehear the case) that they don’t like.

The Tester/Daines public lands logging bill (S.605) has been called “just another cynical attack to weaken a key provision of the Endangered Species Act” by the Center for Biological Diversity.

On statewide radio Sen. Tester said this:

“But Tester says a new forest management plan can take decades to write. So in the meantime: ‘Everything stops,” he says. “All the recreational opportunities stop, the tree cuts stop, trail maintenance stops while they redo this forest plan.’” (SOURCE: http://mtpr.org/post/daines-tester-trying-reverse-court-ruling-lynx-habitat)

The public must know that this statement from Sen. Tester is 100 percent not true and doesn’t even contain an ounce of truth.

The truth is that all national forests in Montana, and across America, are required to go through a Forest Plan Revision process every 15 to 20 years. At NO POINT during that Forest Plan Revision process does “Everything stop.”

At NO point during the Forest Plan Revision process do “All the recreational opportunities stop, the tree cuts stop, trail maintenance stops while they redo this forest plan.”

I appreciate the fact that the reporter talked to someone at the Lewis and Clark National Forest who said revising a forest plan doesn’t stop work. But revising a forest management plan also doesn’t “hamper” it either, as the Forest Service employee apparently claimed.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Tester has taken to Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio and demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of national forest management.

In February 2015 Sen. Tester said on Montana Public Radio: “Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them.”

That statement was so entirely not true that the Washington Post’s official Fact-Checker (Glenn Kessler) investigated the statement and gave Sen. Tester “4 Pinocchios” for telling a whopper of a lie. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/25/montana-senator-twice-gets-his-facts-wrong-on-timber-sales-and-litigation

This time, Sen. Tester has just told Montana citizens on statewide radio a huge lie about a very basic public lands management process.

Perhaps it was just a mistake, but regardless, Sen. Tester’s statement is 100 percent, entirely not true and his office should immediately issue a correction so that Montana citizens don’t go around thinking that every time the U.S. Forest Service goes through a forest plan revision process that “Everything stops. All the recreational opportunities stop, the tree cuts stop, trail maintenance stops while they redo this forest plan.” —Matthew Koehler, Missoula

Don’t give up your guns

Years ago there was a billionaire-mayor, named Michael Bloomberg, who demanded “gun control” in New York City, even though he had half a dozen, fully armed, body guards himself! We now have Hollywood celebrities, and more millionaire NFL and NBA athletes, wanting to feel heroic at your expense. They all happen to be spiritual zombies, blind to their hypocrisy. They hide a belief that they are superior to you or me, or the rest of the population.

The latest fool is that blubbering comedian who discovered his millions could not protect his child from a disease. So, he has been emoting on TV for the entire endangered species, especially himself. He too doesn’t need to carry weapons because he hires armed body guards. So don’t get angry at them. They don’t realize they’re arrogant. It’s similar to a historical queen who discovered her people had no bread to eat, so she smirked, “Let them eat cake!” Not too funny, since the following year they cut off her head.

These celebrities are the same types as the people who sat idly by while Jewish neighbors were dragged out of their beds and sent to gas chambers. Then after the war, the Germans explained that they were, “...Only following orders.” Do you think Americans are superior to those Germans? It’s been going on since the dawn of time. But we have a Constitution, a separation of powers to protect us not from robbers, but from charismatic leaders. The Second Amendment is not for deer hunting! It is for tyrannical government. The Bill of Rights restricts soldiers and police officers from marching into your home at any time of the night without a warrant. If we give in to one inch of constitutional democracy, then another “Reichstag” will suddenly burn down, and we’ll look for a “messiah” just like Hitler to protect us. —Mike Donohue, Kalispell

Tester must fight for gun control

In response to the Las Vegas massacre, Trump said, “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil.”

But any unity I’ve had with Montana’s congressmen is shattered now. Not that I’ve agreed with Greg Gianforte or Steve Daines on most issues, but I’ve really resonated with Jon Tester. I’ve praised, supported, and voted for him twice, reluctantly accepting his many votes against common-sense gun legislation. Here are a few: In 2013, after Sandy Hook, he voted against a ban on high capacity magazines and against limiting magazine sizes to 10 rounds. (He also told family members of Sandy Hook victims that gun-control legislation won’t decrease mass shootings — a statement easily proven false.) In 2016, after Orlando, he voted against background checks for gun sales online and at gun shows. In 2017, he voted to allow gun sales to severely mentally ill people who are too disabled to handle their own money.

By accepting Tester’s votes, I am complicit to these ongoing massacres, with the victims’ blood on my hands. So unless he changes his ideology, I won’t vote for him again. I’ve called Tester’s office to express my decision, and I hope you do the same. Let’s end this injustice. —Heidi McCormick, Missoula

How not to fight forest fires

I was too busy working as a volunteer fire lookout this summer to immediately respond to the outrageous and opportunistic comments made by Sen. Daines, Rep. Gianforte, Secretary Zinke, and Secretary Perdue at the Lolo Fire. To use a time when many Montanans were evacuating their homes, firefighters were risking their lives, and all of us were tired of breathing smoke to start a “blame game” and push a political agenda was insensitive and unethical.

This has been one of the hottest, driest summers we’ve ever had and everything wanted to burn … whether it was grassland or former timber plots or old growth forest … everything wanted to burn. And given a spark, it did just that.

Land managers have been working diligently for a decade on thinning and fire mitigation projects on public lands that are adjacent to private land. These projects have been very helpful, but in a drought like this one, nothing will stop wildfire. Our leaders need to not only be supportive of land management projects, but also be looking for solutions to the bigger, more complex, problem.

The fact is that our fire seasons are longer, drier, and hotter than ever before. Ninety-seven percent of our scientists say that this is the result of our over-consumption of fossil fuels which produce more greenhouse gases than the natural world can handle. The planet is getting hotter at a faster rate than can be explained by natural cycles. We are now seeing the results in horrific fire seasons. Rather than playing the unproductive “blame game,” real leaders should be working together, pushing for real solutions to address this complicated problem, like renewable energy and decreasing the use of fossil fuels. —Debo Powers, Polebridge

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