1999 Montana Legislature

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     WHEREAS, the President of the United States, by Executive Order, initiated the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP) to create a scientifically sound, legally defensible, ecosystem management plan; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP was to be a broad-scale, 12-month project that would give general direction to public land managers for ecosystem management but has become a top-down, highly prescriptive set of management directives; and

     WHEREAS, the management direction provided by the ICBEMP does not match the purpose and need statements made in the environmental impact statement (EIS), which were to restore and maintain a healthy forest, to provide sustainable and predictable levels of products and services, and to support economic and social needs of people, cultures, and communities; and

     WHEREAS, the Columbia Basin ecosystem is a very diverse and complex environment, and basinwide standards could be a detriment to some or all forest-dependent and range-dependent economies; and

     WHEREAS, experts maintain that the ICBEMP violates the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, the National Forest Management Act of 1976, the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resource Planning Act of 1974, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP was intended to be a scientifically sound management plan but has become politically based on selective science, which supports predetermined preservation goals with a top-down, one-size-fits-all, highly prescriptive set of management objectives and standards; and

     WHEREAS, the recent interim roadless policy proposed by federal agencies indicates a strong desire to create de facto wilderness areas and circumvent the authority of Congress (in direct violation of the previously listed laws) and indicates the political direction incorporated into the ICBEMP, which obfuscates the tireless, good faith efforts of local representatives who participated in the ICBEMP process; and

     WHEREAS, public lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are to be managed for multiple use for the benefit of the citizens of the United States, and road closures proposed within the ICBEMP EIS preferred alternative will severely limit the multiple use of millions of acres of public land; and

     WHEREAS, current road closures already dramatically limit physical and financial abilities to control noxious weeds, and the ICBEMP-proposed further closures pose a serious threat of further and more serious weed encroachment into Montana's forests and grasslands; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP has become a political document, rather than a resource management planning document; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP contains too many economic assumptions and too few economic projections based on accurate information; and

     WHEREAS, implementation of the ICBEMP will directly affect management of 16 BLM districts and 30 national forests, all in the western United States; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP coverage extends to 104 counties and 144 million acres of land (72 million acres of which are private), and the ICBEMP implementation will directly and indirectly affect the livelihoods of millions of citizens in the planning area; and

     WHEREAS, a major component of the basic economies of about two-thirds of the affected rural and natural resource-dependent counties would be directly and potentially severely impacted by implementation of the ICBEMP; and

     WHEREAS, the citizens of Montana, Montana's local government units, and Montana's communities have a direct interest in public land management that produces payments in lieu of taxes and (most importantly) forest receipts that generate revenue to the federal treasury and significantly contribute to funding public schools and roads; and

     WHEREAS, it is questionable whether Congress will fund the ICBEMP implementation, and the impacts of inadequate implementation funding would be significantly more disastrous for natural resources than if implementation were fully funded; and

     WHEREAS, the citizens of the United States and communities throughout the western United States depend on the stewardship, sustained yield, and even-flow production of goods and services from multiple-use management of public lands located in those states; and

     WHEREAS, there is increasing national and world demand for renewable, recyclable goods and services, including recreation, wildlife, fisheries, food, fiber, clean air, and clean water; and

     WHEREAS, in Montana, the U.S. Forest Service has reduced timber harvest by over 50% since 1950, even though wood is the preferred raw material for home building, and transferred global environmental consequences were never discussed or considered when decisions were being made to reduce budgets; and

     WHEREAS, domestic raw materials production is being increasingly restricted in the United States, even in light of rising domestic consumption and the United States' position as a massive net importer of raw materials; and

     WHEREAS, decisions are being made on a daily basis and at all levels of government to restrict raw materials production, almost always on environmental grounds, yet consumption is virtually never discussed; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP draft documents fail to adequately and truthfully define and disclose the economic, environmental, and social conditions of Montana's communities and local government units and the future effects on these entities of implementation of the proposed ecosystem management practices; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP represents a top-down management paradigm that reduces or eliminates effective local input to natural resource management and environmental decisionmaking; and

     WHEREAS, the ICBEMP has become a 6-year, over $40 million project, with no end in sight.


     That the federal government be strongly urged to:

     (1) terminate the ICBEMP and issue no Record of Decision on the ICBEMP;

     (2) forward the accurate ecosystem management data developed through the ICBEMP to relevant BLM district managers and U.S. Forest Service forest supervisors;

     (3) ensure that all public comments on the ICBEMP be incorporated into the public record for the ICBEMP;

     (4) forward to district managers and supervisors the public comments provided on the ICBEMP for the managers' and supervisors' consideration related to updates to the land and resource management plans required by federal law; and

     (5) coordinate plan revisions between adjoining management units to provide consistency and connectivity and to consider cumulative impacts in dealing with broad-scale issues that affect multiple jurisdictions.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that federal natural resource planning and environmental management feature site-specific management decisions made by local decisionmakers, local citizenry, and parties directly and personally affected by these decisions for our public lands.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the federal government acknowledge that the alternatives presented in the ICBEMP EIS are inconsistent with but should be consistent with the balanced "Purpose of and Need for Action" statements in the same documents, which are:

     (1) "restore and maintain long-term ecosystem health and ecological integrity" (i.e., restore and maintain a healthy forest); and

     (2) "support economic and/or social needs of people, cultures, and communities, and provide sustainable and predictable levels of products and services from our public lands administered by the Forest Service or BLM ...".

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be sent by the Secretary of State to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, the presiding officers of the Appropriations Committees of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, the Montana Congressional Delegation, the Chief of the Forest Service, and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

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