Montana's Logging Debate (No. 701)

First Aired Thursday, September 30, 2010

More than 22 million acres of Montana's landscape is forested.

More than 22 million acres of Montana's landscape is forested. Some want to keep it that way. However, the pine beetle infestation has opened the door to some interesting collaborations between the logging industry and environmental groups. Proposals that once were a sure bet to wind up in court are getting a green light. Is Montana turning the corner on an issue that pitted commercial loggers against opposing groups? Or, will the gloves go back on once the beetle damaged timber contracts play out? 

Montana's ongoing debate over logging has taken some interesting turns over the years, but a recent event has triggered the shift that is underway. Rather than drawing a line in the sand that says "cross it and we'll see you in court," a collaborative approach is emerging on how best to deal with the devastating pine beetle infestations in our forests.

Not only is the physical landscape of Montana's forests changing, the pine beetle infestation has triggered a shift in the political landscape as well.Groups like the Montana Wilderness Association have signed on to projects like the Clancy/Unionville contract between the U.S. Forest Service, and Ry Timber, to log 600 + acres of damaged trees. Therein lies the debate. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies promotes a hands off approach that would favor habitat for elk and other denizens of the forest. Are the Rockies even suited for logging? Is Montana turning the corner on an issue that pitted commercial loggers against opposing groups? Or, will the gloves go back on once the beetle damaged timber contracts play out?

Montana's Logging Debate