By Montana Grant

Posted: June 8, 2019

Communities across Montana are trying to protect our forests too death! As the Forestry agencies strive to apply proven forestry practices to our wild places, well-meaning but misinformed organizations, landowners, and Preservationists block their efforts.

Proper Forestry means managing the forests to be healthy and survive for centuries. Timber Stand Improvement, Controlled Burns, Thinning, and Timber Harvests are a few ways that this is done. Forest fires are less of a problem and wildlife benefits from these practices. Few creatures live or thrive in a mature, dense forest. Deer and elk prefer edges where the sun nourishes forbs and grasses for forage. Little sunlight reaches the floor of a mature forest.

Timber is a natural resource that has a prime value at one point during its life. Like agricultural crops, harvests must occur, or the products go to waste. Using smart Conservation practices ensures proper use, sale, and protection for future crops. Preservation means keep off and let nature take her course. Timber is lost, burns, rots, and is wasted. If a farmer never harvested a hard-earned crop, we would call him stupid and wasteful.

It seems like wealthier and more organized groups want to Preserve the forests. The view, look, and feel of the forests is special but always changing. Forests are created over 80 or more years. The wonderful forests we have are a result of a lifetime of smart Forestry practices that all citizens pay for. In California, poor Forestry practices and Preservationist thinking have resulted in many large forest fires. Not harvesting and wasting these prime resources cost all of us.

Forestry is not Free.  Forestry occurs over decades, not seasons. When the forests are harvested, the money goes back into the state for other Forestry needs. Conservation pays for itself. When timber sales are blocked, taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Wealthier residents and tourists would like nothing better than to fence off our public lands and watersheds. Selfish and uninformed wildlife, fishery, and Forestry practices benefit only the few that have the funds to preserve their resources. Fires, erosion, disease, and abuse honor no boundaries and who ends up paying for the damages?

How many forests must burn up before Preservationists figure it out? Recently wealthy communities in Bozeman blocked a planned timber sale. Their beautiful playland was going to cut down! Once timbered, the forest would be replanted and prepared for the next generation but, the short-termed view of a timbered forest is not as appealing. Initially stumps, slash piles, and few trees are not what they are used to.

 Watching nature reclaim this area is also amazing and beautiful. Trees become grasses and flowers. The transition invites additional and diverse wildlife. Eventually, after another 80 years, a wonderful resource can be recycled once again. Wood needs to come from somewhere to build homes, fences, and products.

Without Natural and managed change, Wildlife loses, Citizens lose, and the Preserved forest become a prime candidate for fire. If it burns, everything loses and any timber value or benefits to wildlife are also lost just to Preserve a short-termed view!

Our wonderful open spaces and forests didn’t just happen. Let’s continue to support the trained professionals to manage our future forests and special places.

Montana Grant

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