March 15, 2009
August 7, 2007
There are “two sets of rules”… “one for the rich, and one for the rest of us”.
At the present time there are 14 large wildfires burning in Montana and they have consumed a total of more than a quarter of a million acres. I’m quite familiar with two of the fires.
One of them is the Chippy Creek fire and I have posted quite a few photos of it: it is close to where I live. It has now burned about 44,000 acres (about 70 square miles) and I think at the present time it is Montana’s largest fire and will most certainly be the most devastating to our natural resources because it has been burning mostly in heavy timber. I have studied it and believe it will burn until the snows of winter finally extinguish it. It currently threatens about 50 homes, most of which are small ranches and homes that just plain, regular people have built by themselves, and those will most probably be gone by tomorrow night. (In my opinion, 44,000 acres is a ridiculously low estimate of this fire’s real area.)
Sixty miles southeast of the Chippy Creek fire is the Jocko Lakes fire which has now burned only 14,000 acres but is threatening several hundred structures in an area of exclusive homes, many of them summer or weekend retreats for the very wealthy. (I remember when I was a kid growing up in Missoula, the wealthy elite always spent their weekends at their homes on Seely Lake or nearby Placid or Inez Lakes.)
It seems significant to me that Chippy Creek gets scant attention by the media or anyone else, while Jocko Lakes has now been visited twice personally by Montana’s Governor who today said this about it, “This is rated as the number one most dangerous fire in America, so we’re putting as many resources on this fire as we can lay hands on. Folks from North America and beyond will do whatever we can to protect this community.” To my knowledge he has not even made a single comment about the Chippy Creek fire.
Governor, I think we can see where you stand.
Here’s what the Chippy Creek fire looked like today on an afternoon that had storms but very little rain included with them. They were taken about ten miles away, from the top of Mount Baldy.
April 26, 2007
When the new Wilderness Bill was announced, Montana’s only member of the House of Representatives, Denny Rehberg, immediately came out in opposition to it in a poorly worded, poorly organized and factually empty statement quoted in this story in the Missoulian: “I oppose this legislation because it’s a top-down approach that doesn’t properly take into account the impacts on the local economy. Nor does it adequately protect access for hunting, fishing and other forms of recreation,” Rehberg said in a statement. “I’ll continue to work to implement responsible policies to protect Montana’s natural resources.”
Is there perhaps more motivating his opposition to the bill than that simplistic statement implies?
In March, 2007, Rep. Rehberg held a fundraising event at, of all places, the exclusive Yellowstone Club near Big Sky Montana., which is owned by, as pointed out in this story in the Billings Gazette his friend Tim Blixseth. While some of us might have been able to scrape together $1,000 to attend the event, most of us couldn’t come up with the minimum price for a home there ($1,000,000) or even the $300,000 necessary to join their private country club.
Rep. Rehberg’s friend Blixseth is an interesting person. As mentioned in this story in the Missoulian titled “World’s most expensive home’ for sale in Big Sky”, Blixseth “built the ultra-exclusive Yellowstone Club, a members-only ski and golf resort. Several years ago, he sold a 20-acre lot there for $20 million, at that time the most expensive housing lot in the state. He put the club together after buying 140,000 acres of scattered Plum Creek Timber Co. lands in 1992, then going through a series of land swaps with the U.S. Forest Service that consolidated both public and private holdings. Blixseth and his partners paid about $25 million for the Plum Creek properties, he has said”.
There was also an interesting story in the March 5, 2006 edition of the New York Times about the life and career of Tim Blixseth. It appears he is one of the highest-rolling developers in the world today. Here is that story.
Considering Rep. Rehberg’s ties to Blixseth, I am compelled to ask: is Rep. Rehberg motivated to support the preservation of Montana’s natural resources, or the exploitation of them? I am reminded again of the two sets of rules: one for the rich, and one for the rest of us. It is beginning to appear obvious which set of rules Mr. Rehberg has chosen to by play by.
It seems to me that the saving grace here is that Wilderness bill H.R. 1975 is neither in the hands of Denny Rehberg nor Tim Blixseth, really: it is now at the National level and in the hands of the American people. The natural resources that it would protect, while located in the five Western states, belong to everyone in America. Because it is at the National level, you all can play your own parts in this by voicing your opinions to the elected Representatives from your own states.
At the moment, it seems that Montana doesn’t seem to have anyone in the House to defend our natural resources. However, I think a vote of thanks should be given to its sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney from New York and all of the bill’s cosponsors from other states who can be seen listed here.
April 22, 2007
“two sets of rules”… “one for the rich and one for the rest of us”.
The picture painted in this story in the Kalispell Montana Daily Interlake on June 6, 2006 is an idyllic one of a man finding “balance” in his life in the wild outdoors of Montana and helping others to do the same. Problem is, most of it appears to be a lie and many of this man’s activities appear to be illegal as well. The true picture seems to be one of a rich individual’s blatant disregard for both the sanctity of Montana’s wild country and the laws that are in place to protect it.
This story in today’s Missoulian paints an entirely different picture. Read both articles and form your own opinion.
I felt compelled to post this, not to simply emphasize this particular deplorable situation but to illustrate an attitude that seems to be more and more prevalent today; a disregard for nature, a disregard for our laws, and the arrogance of wealth leading to the selfish exploitation of our wild country for personal gratification and gain.