By Montana Grant

Posted: December 5, 2019

The Bozeman Municipal Watershed forest is ready for harvest. The East Boulder Project, southeast of Big Timber, is also ready to manage. 4700 acres of Bozeman watershed needs thinning, timbering, and burning. These areas are along Bozeman Creek and Hyalite watersheds.

Forests are Renewable Natural Resources. “Timber Stand Improvement” is an important tool that Foresters use to manage healthy forests. Without care, the forests can become fire hazards, diseased, and unhealthy. It is important to maintain forests for diversity of age, size, and species diversity. With a healthy habitat, wildlife will thrive.

Local groups such as The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, and community associations have filed suit to prevent forest harvest or management. Their reason is to protect the Canadian Lynx. The Forest Service is trying to do their jobs of managing the forests and maintain healthy habitats.

Ironically, Science and research does not support their Lynx protection argument to preserve forests. The issue is about habitat for all critters, while protecting soils, and watersheds. Lynx prefer habitat that is best suited for their main prey, the Snowshoe Hare. Open, mature forests provide poor habitat for most critters, especially hares and lynx. By using Timber Stand Improvement techniques, the critical habitat needed to support lynx is created. Burning in selective areas creates carbon that nourishes grasslands and fertile soil. Debris piles left over from timber work creates nesting cover, den cover, and protection for the very critters that the environmental groups are saying they want to protect!

Without hares, there will be no lynx. Research shows that lynx prefer edges to hunt and nest. A diversity of all size and varied species of trees is best. These conditions are also best for deer, elk, and most critters. Primitive roads, clearings, and edges are exactly the best habitat for many species, including Lynx and Hares. Harvested trees also pay for the management of our forests.

If a farmer raised a crop and was prevented from harvesting, it what would people think? The Forest Service farms the forests. Without proper forest practices, disease and fires will devastate everything. Now we are dealing with reclamation instead of conservation.

Let Nature take her course? People love their mountain views and trees. Many want to Preserve what they are most comfortable and familiar with. This means doing nothing. This is how forests are managed in the fire vortex of California.

It takes 70-100 years to restore a forest. Just look at Yellowstone Park to understand what I am saying. Yellowstone will never look like it did when were kids, in our lifetime. With Timber Stand Improvement, forests can be managed and maintained forever. The harvested timber pays for the work to be done.

Things change. Forests will change with or without our help. Let the Science dictate our environmental needs, not emotions. We all want healthy and wildlife filled habitats. Let’s make this happen together.


Montana Grant

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