Walk lighter on the land, or demand more from it
May 25, 2023
One of the greatest things about the valley has always been its diversity, from its timber base to its wildlife. The complexity and abundance of both would be hard to dismiss for anything other than a great blessing. This abundance has supported and bolstered human life since man first set foot here.
That is all changing.
The timber base is being eroded away by a multitude of reasons.
Disease, fire, logging, road widening and development. They are all contributing in one degree or another. the end result is a loss of habitat to wildlife, a sterile environment and a landscape changed dramatically from its earlier form.
White bark pine are darn near eradicated at higher elevations, lodgepole pine has been decimated by bark beetles, the alpine fir are dying at alarming rates and in some places it is 90% dead already, Douglas fir, especially some of the old growth are dying like some people - from the top down, from bud worms. You don’t need to be a biologist to understand the forest is about as unhealthy as it has ever been. In the back country miles of trails are buried with toppled trees, as their root structure gives out and the wind topples them. There are literally hundreds of square miles where it’s almost impossible to walk through for the downed timber.
Knowing all this, it confuses me why the state of Montana (DNRC) seems to want to log miles of sections of low scale trees. Maybe you have driven down Woodworth Road recently and witnessed sections 34 and 35 being logged.
Add to that 26, 27, and 36 and numerous sections in the Game Range - all adjacent to one another. I am not against logging. I am for the wise use of our resources. Is this wise?
The Woodworth Road 50 years ago was almost like driving down a tunnel created by tree boughs.Today that tunnel is framed by walls of slash.
This is an elk corridor where a large migration exists of animals into the Game Range. The open landscape and lack of cover is almost akin to the sterile environment of a city park now.
As I witnessed during hunting season, when an abundance of “well-rounded” individuals road hunt down Woodworth Road:
“Hey, it’s the edge of the game range, Got to be some action here!”
Now this corridor without timber will have unlimited visibility to road hunters on both sides of the road.
I doubt very much that boundaries impact opportunities for road hunters.
Look at the numbers caught shooting decoys along roads.
You would think the DNRC would have balanced out this equation before creating their own city park along this migration corridor.
You may also have noticed that when a gate is present across a road into the Game Range, it is accompanied by a sign that says: “Access denied to prevent damage to the habitat.”
This is a euphemistic way of saying: “We don’t want you to see what the habitat looks like now.”
When you leave a 30-foot by 30-foot spacing on leave tress, the rodent base is gone and most predators have no sustenance at all. Most of the sections logged in the Game Range today won’t support an anorexic coyote.
Is this state in that much need of money to rationalize extensive timber harvest of six to eight inch diameter trees?
I’m aware of the school trust fund from revenue from these lands. In former years there was a vilification from these lands called “Clearcuts for Kids,” which summed up this practice. Surely with the millions of dollars the state is racking in from the sale of marijuana, we can parcel up the funds more equitably and consequently decrease the practice of decimating state forest lands.
Timber is a renewable resource, elk and deer are renewable resources, fur bearers are renewable resources - that is, if we do not decrease the surplus population beyond an unsustainable level.
The country is changing. People are moving in. Montana is being bought and sold like a commodity at a weekend market.
Carpet baggers are lining their pockets with the dream of re-inventing yourself in this state.
Climate change is altering the environment.
Thousands of square miles are burnt up when the area used to have amoeba shaped 80 to 100 acre burns.
Change isn’t coming.
What do we do as wise stewards to mitigate the effect?
Scale back or accelerate?
Walk lighter on the land or demand more from it?
Seeley Lake, MT