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Posts tagged as “Montana”

First take/motorized

I wouldn't have thought the groups of people seeking to run motorized vehicles - snowmobiles, ATVs and so on - in the backcountry would be quite so large, but maybe it is.

They were among the last holdouts and critics in opposition to the recent designation of the central Idaho wilderness area earlier this year. Now they are filing a lawsuit against the in-progress Kootenai National Forest plan in Montana (the forest is adjacent to northern Idaho) which would designate about 115,000 acres as wilderness.

Wilderness areas generally ban motorized equipment of any sort (planes being a notable exception), and such recreational transports usually are banned from there. But accommodations have been made in some places, as the plaintiffs' attorney pointed out.

Most of the specific issues in the case concern whether all of the proposals in the plan properly went through the public hearing process, and whether for the proper periods of time. But the presence of motorized transport in wilderness areas is something likely to come back up, in various places. - rs

Wolves for the state

wolf

The Obama Administration decision taking gray wolves - in Idaho and Montana - off the endangered species list, and letting those states manage them, will likely pay a whole bunch of political dividends.

Yes, wolf advocates can complain that the states won't do what the feds might have by way of protection. But realistically, the states will have to operate within federal parameters and within federally-approved plans. The distinction is likely to be almost as much jurisdictional as anything.

In return for that, the new administration bought itself a lot of goodwill on a subject directly touching on few Idahoans - how many, in raw numbers, will actually encounter a wild wolf? - but of big emotional, symbolic and political impact.

New Representative Walt Minnick reports that he lobbied hard to get this result, working contacts through to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. No doubt he did; his this decision gone the other way, he'd have had a lot of 'splaining to do back home.

As it is, Minnick, the other three (Republican) members of the congressional delegation and Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter got together on a press release of praise. Senator Jim Risch: "I greatly appreciate Secretary Salazar’s decision." Otter: The decision is "heartening." Representative Mike Simpson: "A good, sound decision."

The Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert suggested, "when was the last time a Western Republican governor howled in approval of any natural resource policy from a Democratic White House? Times could be changing from the Sagebrush Rebellion, which took root after the Carter years, and the oft-repeated 'War on the West' rhetoric from the Clinton years." That potential is becoming real; fulfillment awaits.