Saturday, October 16, 2021

Alliance seems more interested in obstruction than collaboration

by Paul Bradford
| October 7, 2021 12:00 AM

After more than 15 years of reading various opinion pieces and other assorted claims from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR), including being personally named in their legal filings, the Oct. 3 opinion claim by executive director Garrity of “An unbelievably awful logging project for grizzly bears” pushed me over the edge. Readers of the Daily Inter Lake should beware of the last line in the opinion piece, which includes “We can’t do this without help, please consider donating...”

In my personal experience with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and its executive director, I never saw one instance where the Alliance truly gave a hoot about responsible land management or the local communities in the vicinity of our public lands. Rather, the Alliance leadership is focused on fly-specking fundamentally sound land management projects in court, and then extracting as much money in Equal Access to Justice Act funds (i.e., taxpayers dollars) if they get any sort of a favorable judgment down in Missoula’s federal district sourt.

The Alliance strategy typically is to throw all sorts of legal claims up against an agency’s project (in this case, the Forest Service’s Ripley project), and then hope something sticks. And if one claim is upheld, even though all the other spurious claims are denied, then the Alliance files for EAJA funds. Then the agency is held hostage again, paying taxpayer funds to the Alliance while their mouthpiece trumpets their “victory in the battle against a rogue land management agency that routinely breaks the law.”

Reality is that the agency personnel have the education, training, experience, and a strong personal commitment to quality land management. These folks are working closely with local communities to manage federal land and resources in a responsible manner, which includes actions to make federal lands more resistant to fire near private property.

The Alliance has consistently done nothing to work with the agency to generate projects that help local communities be more fire-safe and fire-resistant, nor will they engage constructively in any land stewardship project produced in a local community collaborative effort.

Rather, the Alliance’s approach is to cast blame and aspersions against responsible and experienced land management personnel, obstruct needed projects, and then try to collect as many federal taxpayer dollars through EAJA claims as they can. Then have the gall to hold their hand out with “We can’t do this without help, please consider donating...”

Sounds to me like it’s more about the money for Alliance for the Wild Rockies than grizzly bear welfare.

Paul Bradford was a professional forester with the Forest Service for 36 years, the last eight as the forest supervisor of the Kootenai National Forest in Libby. He retired in 2014.