By Martin J. Kidston
How many people saw the news clip of Conrad Burns pounding his fists in Washington last week? The one where hes iterating his point, saying something to the effects, those people out there (Montana) are tired of you people here (Washington) telling them what to do.
Its the clip where Burns is saying Montanans are against the presidents plan to protect the nations roadless areas in National Forest. So why wont you people listen, he yells at the senate, pounding his fists between syllables.
Well my hearts aflutter. How proud I am at having a sophist as eloquent as Burns speaking on my behalf.
But if the truth be known and it must I wondered then as I wonder now who Burns was referring to when he said in not so many words those people out there (Montana) dont want your stinking plan.
At last check, the census bureau was still counting me as a person. It seems I have yet to regress to my chimpanzee roots. Whats more, my GPS system says that I, as a person live out there, (hush, its Montana).
As a person who lives out here it should be noted that said person (me) wants the presidents plan, which Im pounding my fists here would close national forests to future road building. Clintons plan would secure 40 million acres of national forest nationwide and protect it from future development.
I support this plan wholeheartedly and public opinion surveys show Im not alone.
Polls conducted by the U.S. Forest Service show that two out of three Montanans oppose construction of new federal logging roads in roadless areas. Whats more, the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners have urged the U.S. Forest Service to recognize the importance of roadless tracts in the Helena and Lewis and Clark national forests. They have asked the USFS to take the necessary steps to insure that they remain in a wild state. The Great Falls Tribune even conducted a state-wide poll, finding that a two to one majority existed among Montanans supporting conservation of wild public lands in and along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Like me, all these people live out here, but were not pounding our fists. Not yet but we may. Were the ones that Burns says dont want the presidents plan
But, oh, how we do. So who is he talking about when he speaks for Montana? It isnt me. Speculations abound. Can you say money?
The best argument Burns has come up with so far is to say, and I quote, the withdrawal is a blatant political move meant to bolster the ailing presidential campaign of Vice President Gore.
Burns sounds like a desperate man reaching for straws trying to turn a good deed into a political headline. To that, the Montana Wilderness Association said it best when referring to Burns and his unwillingness to listen to the voice of Montana.
When the public expresses an opinion they (Burns and Hill) do not subscribe to, they (Burns and Hill) complain that the public was not really represented.
Theyre right about one thing, the public is not represented because Burns and Hill do not listen to the public. They try scare tactics to sway opinion, such as Burns saying this land withdrawal will hurt, possibly even devastate communities throughout the northwest. Note Burns use of the word possibly. Even he cannot tell a full lie.
What Burns does not say tell us is that only one percent of the timber industry will be impacted by the presidents plan. He fails to mention that these roadless areas dont have roads because the land is in rough terrain and is inaccessible to the timber industry. If they wanted to harvest these areas, they would have done so by now. But they havent, and its hard to believe its because they havent gotten around to it yet. The fact is, they cant get to it.
To make it forever roadless would be a loss to no one and a gain for all.