Steve Daines Opposes Any Montana-Crafted Forest Bills, Prefers Big Government Bad Policy

Representative Steve Daines

For someone who likes to suggest he’s opposed to federal decision-making and

Representative Steve Daines
Representative Steve Daines

in favor of more state control over resources, it’s certainly interesting to see Representative Steve Daines writing a letter to House Speaker John Boehner opposing state-specific solutions to managing wilderness and logging on public lands.

Mike Dennison summarizes the crux of the letter:

The July 11 letter, signed last week by Daines and 28 other Republican House members, asks House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to block state-specific bills to increase timber production, because the signers prefer a bill addressing the problem nationwide.

That’s right. Rather than working to help Senator Tester shape and pass a bill that has broad-based support in Montana’s environmental and logging communities, Representative Daines is backing a dead-end, one-size-fits all proposal that has almost no chance of passage and even less chance of meeting the needs of Montana. The self-appointed of “Less Government, More Jobs” is so much more interested in playing politics than governing that he’s proposing a big government solution that will hurt Montana jobs and threaten our wilderness areas.

And that’s not even the most craven thing about the Daines letter. Despite not having the integrity to communicate concerns or work with Senator Tester on his bill, Daines lacked the courage to even inform his Montana colleague.

Even worse, he won’t even tell the truth to the Montana press or public, suggesting that he “he hasn’t taken a position” on Tester’s bill. That’s right. Despite Tester having introduced the bill, the single most important piece of wilderness legislation in the state, in 2009, Representative Daines wants the people of Montana to believe that he hasn’t decided if he supports it or not.

His letter to Speaker Boehner makes it clear that’s simply not true, that Daines is nothing more than a legislative obstructionist, more interested in being able to using logging for politics than someone honestly involved in crafting a solution. The alternative that he really hasn’t made up his mind? Not even Dennis Rehberg was that incompetent or overmatched for the needs of the House.

Since Representative Daines won’t work for a workable compromise developed by Montana stakeholders, he should at least have the courage to admit it. I wouldn’t wait for that.

As a final note, this latest round of discussion about Montana’s wilderness has led predictably to  a very narrow minority of the Montana conservation community continuing its obsessive focus on attacking Senator Tester’s balanced bill, inexplicably giving a free pass to Representative Daines, who has signed off on a Republican proposal that will “timber bill that would require every national forest to designate an area for logging, with annual timber harvest targets.” The Daines-supported bill will also make legal challenges to timber harvests far more difficult, and put the interests of the timber industry far ahead of the interests of protecting wild spaces. Montanans interested in supporting wilderness and public spaces should probably give their support to organizations that are more interested working to ensure our tradition of wild spaces and public access than groups more interested in waging war against everyone but the real enemy.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Whether wielded by a Republican or a Democrat, an ax makes the same sound as it hits a tree: “Hack!”

  • Thanks, Don, for the link to my Twitter account. If anyone actually bothers to scroll through all my tweets I’m pretty sure they will see that I have NOT – in any way, shape or form – “giving a free pass to Representative Daines” on the issue of mandated public lands logging and national forest management. 

    The fact of the matter, which Don choses to ignore, is that over the past year I’ve posted dozens and dozens of tweets, blog posts and on-line newspaper comments blasting Rep Daines for his so-called “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Community Act.”  

    So, in this sense, Don is once again not telling people the truth, as I have, in truth, “waged war” “against the real enemy.” 

    Finally, it should be pointed out that bad public lands forest policy from Democrats is not a solution to terrible public lands forest policy from the GOP. There is a reason why Tester’s mandated public lands logging bill is opposed by the likes of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, WildEarth Guardians and many, many others. 

    Again, this fact is obviously ignored by Don. But I do have to wonder, do all these groups also constitute a “very narrow minority of the conservation community” to Don as well?

    P.S. Don, I’m also still waiting for you to provide a link to any independent poll on Tester’s FJRA that wasn’t paid for or commissioned by supporters of the bill. Thanks.

  • MatthewKoehler Yes, that post about the Republican forest bill from last October is real evidence that you’ve been holding his feet to the fire.

    Go get em!

  • dpogreba 

    Anyone reading these comments will see clearly that above I wrote:

    “The fact of the matter, which Don choses to ignore, is that over the past year I’ve posted dozens and dozens of tweets, blog posts and on-line newspaper comments blasting Rep Daines for his so-called “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Community Act.””

    In response to that statement of fact, Don Pogreba decides to focus – not on the dozens and dozens of tweets, blog posts and on-line newspaper comments I’ve written blasting Daines – but on ONE specific blog post I wrote. 

    You see, Don wants to focus on this one blog post because it was written in October of last year. If he’d actually focus on the “dozens and dozens of tweets, blog post and on-line newspaper comments” I’ve made, he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I’m not sure what debate technique Don is using here, but it’s pretty easy for anyone paying attention to see through it.

    I just spent a few minutes on my Twitter account and came up with 7 pages worth of Tweets that I’ve made from this week going back to mid-April, which do in fact clearly hold Daines and/or the Montana GOP and resource extraction industry’s “feet to the fire” on the issue of Daines mandated logging bill and also the GOP’s land transfer scheme. Here’s a link if anyone is interested:

    Don and I clearly don’t like each other very much, and I’m totally fine with that. However, Don seems to be really factually challenged when it comes to trying to have a discussion or a debate with me, and I’m totally not fine with that. 

    This dust up is just the latest example. I believe I’ve held Daines, the Montana GOP and other MT GOP politicians’ “feet to the fire” on national forest management issues more than 99.8% of Montanans during my almost 20 years of living in the state. 

    What Don finds so troubling is that I’ve also held some MT Dem’s “feet to the fire” on these same issues, especially over the past 8 years as the MT Dems have basically adopted much of the same rhetoric and policy as the MT GOP (mandating more public lands logging, gutting ESA protections, etc) as far as public lands management is concerned.

    Once again, I believe that bad public lands forest policy from Democrats is not a solution to terrible public lands forest policy from the GOP.

    As I’ve already mentioned, there is a reason why Tester’s mandated public lands logging bill is opposed by the likes of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, WildEarth Guardians and many other. 

    But Don doesn’t want to even address this fact, which in and of itself speaks volumes. Thanks.

  • MatthewKoehler dpogreba Matt, I have to disagree on your “Democrat = Bad, Republican = Worse idea. Without regard to the relative merits of the bills, the Democrats present a far more insidious challenge to our forests because they are perceived to be less bad than the Republicans.

    Tester, for instance, brought in a bunch of bought collaborators to act as window dressing for his FJRA. Don refers to them as “the environmental community,” which is why Democrats are insidious – they will slowly undo decades of hard work by real conservationists because they are perceived as “less bad.” .

    I prefer the term “timber lobby shills” for both parties, with Republicans less dangerous because that’s what we expect of them. The enemy outside the came is far less dangerous than the one within.

  • MarkTokarski 
    Mark. You’re delusional.
    I disagree with mandated logging, but at its worst, the FJRA mandated 10,000 acres per year for ten years,  of logging on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
    The Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF is 3.3 million acres in size. Multiply 10,000 x 10. You get 100,000 acres, or roughly 3% of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge.
    Oh the Humanity.
    On the other hand you have individuals in the Republican Party who vocally oppose the existence of public lands. And who vocally want to sell them off.
    You tell me who is more insidious. There is a correct answer.

  • Hello 
    I’d like
    to offer up a (not so) quick correction regarding the actual logging mandates
    in Tester’s FJRA. The following info is taken directly from the latest version
    of the bill, as found directly on Sen Tester’s website. As you can see, the
    mandated logging part of the bill has been altered. It now currently reads:
    the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, a minimum of 5,000 acres annually
    until the date on which a total of 70,000 acres in the National Forest have
    been placed under contract; and 
    on the
    Kootenai National Forest— 2,000 acres during the first year after the date of
    enactment of this Act; (ii) 2,500 acres during the second year after the date
    of enactment of this Act; and (iii) 3,000 acres during each subsequent year
    until the date on which a total of 30,000 acres in the National Forest have
    been placed under contract.”
    So, as
    far as the BHDL NF is concerned, if Tester’s bill were to be signed into law,
    that 70,000 acres could be logged in 1 year, 10 years or 15 years. 
    It’s also
    important to keep in mind that this logging acreage is above and beyond the
    amount of logging already taking place on the BHDL NF through the normal timber
    sale program.
    Plus it’s
    also worth keeping in mind that Gov Bullock and a few people also just
    nominated (with no public notice and no opportunity for public comment) over
    580,000 acres of the BHDL NF for expedited ‘fast track’ logging that is except
    from the requirements of NEPA.

    True, the BHDL NF is 3.3 million acres, but what percentage of that land mass
    is actually forest? Maybe 20%? And how much of that forest is actually outside
    inventoried roadless areas and designed Wilderness? And how productive are
    these forests really, in what’s one of the coldest, driest, highest parts of
    Also, for historical comparison, it’s important to keep in mind that the
    average acres logged per year for the BHDL NF from 1954-1996 was 3,213
    Even during the logging heydays of the Reagan years, the average acres logged
    per year on the BHDL NF was 4,613 acres/year (see:
    So, as anyone can see, Tester mandating a MIMINUM of 5,000 acres of logging per
    year, ON TOP OF the normal BHDL NF timber sale program, ON TOP OF the 580,000
    acres of the BHDL NF that Gov Bullock and 7 hand-picked people just nominated
    for ‘fast track’ logging exempt from the requirements of NEPA does start to add
    up to what would easily be the MOST LOGGING in the HISTORY of the BHDL NF.
    Whether that reaches a “Oh the humanity” level of logging, I suppose, is up to
    anyone’s personal view. But to in any way, shape or form minimize the amount of
    logging that could take place on the BHDL NF under Tester’s mandated logging
    bill, the normal timber sale program and now the Bullock Farm Bill ‘fast track’
    logging seems a little disingenuous….especially if we are going to compare the
    public lands logging levels that may be coming on the BHDL NF with the actual,
    documented logging levels on the BHDL NF from 1954 to 1996, including during
    the Reagan years.
    Finally, let’s also consider for a second what Tester successfully mandating
    more logging on the BHDL NF does for America’s entire National Forest legacy.
    Will other members of Congress begin to introduce bills mandating more logging,
    mining, grazing, fracking and oil drilling on federal public lands in their
    state?What happens to our federal
    public lands system, science and public input once this genie is let out of the

  • namelessrange MarkTokarski were talking 2% of industry in Montana. While I believe we need a plan for the beetle blight… yesterday…

    The fact is and always will be that. we need to preserve the trees and forests for our water supply to stay clean.

    While I like Testers bills more than others.It still has gaping holes in it. But I will take it before any bill the republicans serve up to the Koch Brothers and ALEC!

  • namelessrange MarkTokarski So typical is it of debate tactics to pick out one small part of a large debate and frame the entire debate around it that there must be a name for it! Is it taught? In a private memo somewhere? 

    Tester turned on us as soon as elected, uncloaked, and lo and behold, we had another timber lobby guy on our hands. There’s far more to this bill than mandated logging of 130,000 acres of wildlife habitat. You know this as well as I do. There was the closed-door deliberations, the selection of collaborative groups that had been taken over  by foundation money as the “environmental” sponsors (as if Tester would not know who to call on to help him), immediate attacks and attempts to criminalize true conservationists from the process, and attacks on a hundred years of sound forest management – roadless protection from the 90’s gone, local advisory groups to manage a fragmented system … just as a camel is a horse designed by committee, this bill was a wish list from teh timber lobby, who only used a few buzz words to disguise a very bad bill. 

    Far better to do nothing. I stand by my words. Daines has now promoted a similar bill, and is less constrained to sound like he gives a shit what conservationists think. At least with Daines, the enemy is out in the open.

    As I’ve said many times before, if you Democrat really want to help, don’t try to help. You cannot. Your money comes from the same sources as the other party.

  • MarkTokarski 
    Mark. You are the one who equated the two and brought up FJRA. I merely reference the actual bill’s consequences, which aren’t nearly as severe as the Republican’s wish-list.
    There are things I don’t like about the bill, but you must realize. NREPA is dead. We will never have large blocks of wilderness created again. Wilderness designations will be small or complimentary.The best we will do are similar to what are in Tester’s Bill: Recreation Management Areas. As I’ve said before, the wilderness movement is dead because it shuts out a large part of the “green” contingent – that being mountain bikers. Large roadless areas will never be established unless they allow for biking, and to some degree, snowmobiling.
    I brought up the actual consequences of this supposed “timber lobby wish-list”. One third of one percent per year for ten years of the Beaverhead Deerlodge would be mandated for logging.
    They clearly don’t dream big.

  • MarkTokarski Only a hack like You would Equate Pluto to Mars? Cuz they are both planets and ergo like every other Argument you open your mouth up for….. YOUR WRONG.

  • MarkTokarski Markie Toke you have been smoking too much out of the Colorado dispensaries …..A man who cared for Montana SOOOOO much he moved from it to Colorado 7 years ago. 

    So outta of touch nowadays he doesn’t even realize most Montanans have been united about our view and forests since we defeated MSTI.

    You don’t know the Nuances of Montana anymore, you just read the headlines on the web…. give it up Mark, worry about your state of Colorado and how all that fracking throughout the state. will turn it into a cesspool in ten years.

    Nowhere is there enough Gas in our state, except the NE Corner to frack. I know I talked to the Oil and Gas Board here…. 

    Montana has more of a chance to even stay green during the next 25 years because of wind patterns for Climate change. while your state burns up like Texas. A hunters Paridise for Years to come because our citizens are invested for a more Agraian society in the furture, because it is truly our biggest draw in Tourism
     Now if we can only keep Northwest energy from trying to sell our water in a few years… we will be set for another couple of generations of Natural Peace.

    You walked away from all of it…. because of your superior Mind. LOL

    Live with those concequences while we laugh at your failed attempt at Equivalency

  • @MatthewKoehler
    Matthew, it took a while to get back to you, but you posed a
    couple interesting questions.
    According the the National Land Cover Dataset, which is a
    summary provided by the USGS of different land cover types in the U.S. When clipped by the
    boundaries of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, we find that the BDNF contains 2,484,306 acres of forested land. That’s roughly
    75% of the BDNF. Far greater than 20%. Within the BDNF Forest Plan, logging can
    occur on 1.9 million acres within the forest – those areas outside of Wilderness
    and Inventoried Roadless. As you well know, much of Wilderness is the steep and
    rocky devoid of timber anyway. You conveniently leave out the fact that nearly
    580,000 acres of wilderness would be created under the FJRA.
    In my reply to Mark, I was specifically talking about the
    FJRA, which according to your updated numbers, would potentially log 2.8% of
    the FORESTED land in the BDNF, and only on 3.6 % of the available land where
    timber harvest can occur(outside wilderness and roadless areas). You railed against
    the FJRA long before Bullock’s “Fast Track” proposal, so I know your beef runs
    far deeper than the combined impact of both.
    You also know I’m sure, that of Bullock’s proposed fast tracking, only a
    fraction will actually ever be logged. I’ll make a prediction that less than 20%
    of the 580,000 will ever be logged under the new Farm Bill CE in the next
    decade. I’d be interested in your prediction.
    But for the sake of argument let’s do a worst case scenario. 580,000 + 70,000 =
    650,000. Say all of it were logged. I agree it would have incredible impacts,
    and many negative ones, but given the absolute worst cast scenario in the BDNF,
    23% of the FORESTED lands would be logged.
    Does it make sense in light of history?
    I’m not sure.
    Is the demandfor this much timber out
    Probably not in those amounts.
    What would the FJRA have done for America’s National Forest Legacy?
    Wilderness to the system 8 times larger
    in terms of size than the acerage that would have been logged.
    Certainly not perfect. Certainly not my “king for a day” scenario. But a fair
    trade, in my opinion, and not nearly as dramatic a scenario as Mark makes it out to be.

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