Opinion

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Letter

Concerns About Swan Forest Initiative

It appears Montana can only turn a profit by claiming it would get three times the price for its logs

Why won’t Lake County Conservation District Chairman Jim Simpson respond to our concerns about his Swan Forest Initiative that would have Montana take over the logging of 60,000 acres of the wildlife-rich Flathead National Forest and share the alleged profits with Lake County? It appears Montana can only turn a profit by claiming it would get three times the price for its logs by over-logging fish and wildlife habitat.

The Flathead National Forest Plan’s logging analysis is based on actual stumpage/log values and shows it loses about $100 on each load of logs sold. Mr. Simpson flat-out refuses to tell us why he uses a stumpage estimate three times larger than actual values to show the profit that could be made if Montana controlled the logging instead.

We’ve also pointed out that FireWise Montana indicates that the type of logging Mr. Simpson intends to do on these mature federal forests would result in younger forests that would produce flame lengths three times as high and cause fire to travel at three times the speed. Yet Mr. Simpson is going around with a slideshow saying this logging will reduce fire spread.

He hasn’t responded to us about that either. Instead, he says he’s simply taking a vote on whether people think he has a good idea or not. He appears more interested in running a scam than in having a public dialogue that discusses the facts.

We think Mr. Simpson should listen to his three LCCD associates who wrote in 2016, “Enough time and money have been spent on this dead-end proposal. It is time to let it die.”

We urge you to tell Mr. Simpson the same by visiting swanforestinitiative.org, emailing swanstudy@gmail.com, or mailing a letter to the LCCD at 64352 U.S. Highway 93, Ronan, MT 59864. These lands belong to all Americans, not just to Lake County.

Keith Hammer, chair
Swan View Coalition
Kalispell

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