Commentary: Colt Summit timber sale based on false assumptions
Ecologist and former hunting guide George Wuerthner has a new piece on the Lolo National Forest’s Colt Summit Timber Sale over at The Wildlife News. Below is a snip, but make sure to give the entire article it a read. We’ve also debated the substantive issues related to this timber sale numerous times on this site.
The Colt Summit timber sale on the Seeley Lake Ranger District is the first logging proposal on the Lolo National Forest to be challenged in five years. It has become symbolic of a bigger fight over logging in the Northern Rockies. It is the proverbial line in the sand. It is actually typical of the may timber sales now being promoted by the Forest Service based on flawed assumptions about fire ecology and exaggerated public benefits, so in a sense is worthy of scrutiny since it is representative of what environmentalists around the West are encountering these days.
The Colt Summit Timber sale is being challenged by the Friends of the Wild Swan, Native Ecosystems Council, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and Mountain Ecosystems Defense Council. They have filed a law suit to stop the timber sale arguing that the logging may jeopardize endangered grizzly bear, lynx and bull trout. Also, Wildwest Institute filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs (they are members of the Lolo Restoration committee).
Wuerthner also recently got some new pictures of the Colt Summit timber sale area from the air. You can also take a Google Earth tour here. As anyone can clearly see from the aerial images, the surrounding area (including the portions of the Lolo National Forest and private lands) have already been heavily logged and roaded, significantly compromising critical habitat for lynx, grizzly bears, bull trout and other critters. In fact, these images makes it pretty clear that the Colt Summit project area is smack dab in the middle of one of the only wildlife corridors in that part of the valley. Really, most of the valley has been clearcut, logged and roaded from the border of the Mission Mountain Wilderness on the west to the Bob Marshal Wilderness on the east. Yet, despite tremendous fragmentation of the landscape, The Wilderness Society, Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation, Yaak Valley Forest Council and others joined up with the Montana Wood Products Association and Montana Logging Association to file a brief in support of more logging in the area.