Opinion

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Letter

Swan Forest Initiative A Win-Win

Please give this project a “go”

The Swan Forest Initiative (SFI) would turn management of a small parcel of National Forest lands over to Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC). Any revenues would go to the Lake County Conservation District, which since 1945 has improved agricultural land use practices, minimized soil erosion and mitigated noxious weeds.

Recent pressure to return federal lands to the states illustrates frustration over a distant federal bureaucracy managing our lands. While our forests mature and become susceptible to pests and fire, debate goes on over logging sales. Localized management goes a long way toward relieving that pressure. An obvious benefit is that sustainable logging becomes a management tool, which reduces forest fuels and provides value-added jobs for Montanans.

What are the objections to the Swan Forest Initiative?

“It’s a land grab” — not at all. Ownership remains federal. The public retains all current rights to this public land. Of Montana’s 17.4 million acres of National Forest lands, SFI’s 60,000 acre tract is .003 of our state’s total.

“Profits from federal land go to Lake County unfairly.” Budget reports reveal that federal harvests are at best net-neutral, and typically require subsidies to show a profit for taxpayers. This reality is justly lambasted by hyper-environmentalists who should be supportive of the SFI, since fiscal responsibility becomes LCCDs. They are stepping up to take the risk that they can manage the lands profitably. In fact, their budget analysis resulted in annual profits of $300,00 to $500,000 after four years.

“Only the federal budget can provide the level of expertise required to properly manage forests.” Montana DNRC has proven it can manage its forests sensibly and locally.

Please give this project a “go.” See swanforestinitiative.org. I commented, and you can too at swanstudy@gmail.com, or mail your comment to 64352 U.S. Highway 93, Ronan, MT 59864.

Carmine Mowbray
Polson, Montana

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