Forest Management Hearings Roundtables
By Tim Ravndal
Earlier this month, Congressman Greg Gianforte was in Hamilton Montana where he dubbed a panel discussion as a “Field Hearing” on forest health and fires. This next week he is scheduled to be in Lewistown for what is being called a “Round Table” discussion on Wilderness Study areas. Essentially every forested county in Montana has been crying foul over failed management practices.
The meeting in Ravalli County last week highlighted collaboration between groups and government entities. The idea is to forge new ideas on how best to manage forests in Montana and the Northern Region. As this is a feel-good novel idea, we have been trying this approach for years. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana held a field hearing on these same subjects many years ago. Collaboration and groups that purport to be representing the people have secured a seat at the table. Most of the groups are high paid lobbyists that regularly attend meetings and legislative hearings seeking a piece of the political pie.
It is interesting to see how politics come into play. Last week in Hamilton, the preservationists with the Wilderness Association and the Wildlife Federation were protesting that hearing. They complained they did not have a seat at the table.
Congressman Gianforte released the following notice to the following listed recipients for next week’s meeting:
Roundtable Discussion Invitation
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
10:00 – 11:30 AM
“You are cordially invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on Montana Wilderness Study Area legislation with Congressman Greg Gianforte. The Congressman is convening this meeting to provide an opportunity to solicit input on H.R. 5148 and H.R. 5149, which act on longstanding recommendations by BLM and USFS to address certain Wilderness Study Areas in Montana. This meeting will be held in Lewistown, MT on August 15, 2018 from 10:00-11:30 AM. In order to facilitate productive discussion, participation in the round table will be by invitation only. Please RSVP to attend or to coordinate attendance by a designee by contacting Tripp McKemey at email@example.com or 202.225.3211 by 5:00PM Friday, August 10. Agenda, discussion format and location will be provided upon RSVP.”
Montana Association of Counties
Montana Outfitters and Guides Association
Montana Stockgrowers Association
Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife
Montana Wild Sheep Foundation
Montana Wilderness Society
Montana Wildlife Federation
Montana Wood Products Association
Citizens for Balanced Use
Missouri River Stewards
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Kerry White is currently serving in the Montana legislature and is the founding father of “Citizens For Balanced Use.” Mr. White was scheduled to be in Granite County on this same day to give a presentation to the officials of that county on coordination with federal and state agencies. He made immediate requests to reschedule the Granite County meeting to accommodate making the trip to Lewistown. Will forest management decisions in Granite County be on the table next week? Will they be on the table in Meagher County or Sanders County?
Do you see what we notice? There are no legislators listed. There are no County Commissioners listed! More importantly we see the glaring reality that there is no one from the general public invited or notified that the meeting is even taking place. This event hosted by Montana’s only sitting United States Congressman is “By invitation only”
We know that the world is run by those who show up. It is hard to show up to the party if you don’t get an invitation. In the end will the people really have a say in this latest round of public land management?
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