Tuesday, January 6

Plum Creek does the right thing

This is pretty big news, so I just have to indulge myself with a post about Montana.

The ongoing saga between Plum Creek timber company, the United States Forest Service, and the citizens of Montana has apparently come to a (tentative?) conclusion.

Plum Creek owns vast swathes of land in Montana, originally used for logging but now sitting in possession of the holding company. For the last two years, the company has quietly been in negotiation with the U.S. Forest Service in hopes of gaining easements to allow road access for potential residential development in the otherwise undeveloped areas of the state. Local citizens imagined the potential impact of wilderness lodges scattered throughout the open lands of Montana and the inevitable strain on public services they would incur. The prospect of protecting all of these second/third homes from forest fires was daunting enough. With a clear public mandate, the Missoula County Board of Supervisors expressed their disapproval of the plan.

Until recently, the expectation was for Mark Rey, of the department of Agriculture, to push the deal through in the last days of the Bush administration. But Plum Creek unexpectedly pulled out. From a letter sent to the Missoula County Board of Supervisors (and Mark Rey):

"Although we continue to believe that the easement amendment would be beneficial to the general public, given the the lack of receptivity, we have decided not to go forward with the amendment."

At least for a while, some of the pressure to sparsely develop the wild hinterlands of Missoula has abated.