Cabinet Resource Group
'a grassroots environmental organization'
P.O. Box 238
Heron, Montana 59844
406-847-2024

 

Bull River

CRG is keenly aware of the importance of Bull River. Many groups work in a positive manner to protect and improve the Bull River valley ecosystem. They seek to provide habitat protection and recreational opportunities. Some of them work with landowners to protect the land, water and wildlife in the Bull River area. 

Among the groups are Avista, Clark Fork – Pend Oreille Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Green Mountain Conservation District, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. CRG has representation on several of these organizations and CRG is supportive of their efforts.
Scotchman Peaks Courtesy C. Compton

Two major projects already achieved are Wood Duck 1 and Wood Duck 2. These encompass 153 acres of permanent conservation easement. They protect bull trout, west slope cutthroat trout, elk, moose, bear, waterfowl, and many other species. The lead organization in this was The Conservation Fund.

Green Mountain Conservation District’s review of all applications – Form 310 – relating to stream management in much of CRG’s geographical areas of concern is a vital role in maintaining the quality of streams.

 

Community Awareness Network
CoGen Plant Thompson Falls Montana
CRG is supportive of the efforts of the Community Awareness Network – CAN - which opposes the creation of a coal fired power plant in very close proximity to numerous natural features and residents' homes in Thompson Falls. The facility would be injurious to the health and well being of residents, to fish and wildlife, and to air quality. The numerous investors considering the project and then totally withdrawing from it is a clear indication of its impracticality.

 

 


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CLIMBING WALL IN TROY
The Kootenai Rocks is a loosely organized group in the Troy-Libby area of Montana. It has raised funds to construct a climbing wall in the new Troy Gym.

It has been immensely popular. CRG contributed to the wall which closely relates to the varied outdoor activities the CRG encourages in its geographical area of concern.

HIGHWAY 200: SLIPPING AWAY
In the summer of 2006 the Montana Department of Transportation [DOT] drilled near mile marker 16 on Montana Highway 200, just a short distance east of the Noxon, Montana, turnoff.

The Sanders County Ledger reported more than 16 feet in height of former road surface collapsed alongside the side slope, one layer on top of another.  Being in the vicinity of the proposed Rock Creek Mine.  It aroused the interest of several persons.
 

This collapsing had been going on for years and merely was covered with another layer or road each time it occurred.  At the bottom of the tall stack of debris was a broken drainage culvert discharging water.  Serendipitously it was learned from a former worker on this part of the highway that this was where truckloads of rocks and boulders were poured in the spot and they just sunk from view.
 

Further investigation disclosed this was the site of a geologic strike-slip fault and several springs.  The latter compounded the problem.  Concern arose that exiting problems would be exacerbated by drainage from the proposed Rock Creek Mine.

 

The matter was referred to the Montana Department of Transportation [DOT]. That resulted in drilling which sought to determine the depth of the fault, its composition and structure, and the best way to stabilize the area.
 

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ], the state agency handling the studies and granting some permits for the mine, never investigated this problem nor did it notify the DOT of the possible effects the mine could have on repair of the road.

 

The initial drilling disclosed a quarter mile segment of Highway 200 which could fail and slide into the Clark Fork River [Brian Collins, MDOT  Project Engineer].   This could be catastrophic for residents of the area, those traveling Highway 200 at the time, transportation in the Clark Fork valley in Sanders County.

 

Further studies by the state concluded that drainage from mining exploration drilling at Rock Creek – 168 gallons per minute – would not pose a problem since the drainage would not go in that direction. It was also concluded that the mine operation – 3 million gallons per day would not damage the road. Presently the state is planning to put a new drainage system under the road at the site described.

 

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MONTANORE CANT BE PERMITTED AS PROPOSED

The EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote responses to the Environmental Impact Statement on the Montanore mine proposal.  They show the project can’t be permitted as presently  proposed.

The EPA gave the supplemental statement by Montanore  an EO-2 rating., Boy Fishingmeaning the EPA has environmental objections to the proposal.

EPA wants more data on groundwater drawdown, especially in relation to seasonal draining of Rock Lake in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

EPA also expressed concerns about reduction in surface water flow which are not in compliance with Montana’s Water Quality Act.

EPA’s order requires an exploration of ways to avoid or minimize destruction of federal wetlands before  resorting to land mitigation to replace such losses.

Fish and Wildlife Service gave serious concerns about the impact on grizzly bears, lynx, and bull trout.

The Montanore Mine, like the Rock Creek Mine, would mine ore beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness.

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Public Supports Grizzly Bears

A recent survey of attitudes toward grizzly bears in Sanders and Lincoln Counties in Montana [Cabinet-Yaak area] discloses that the majority of residents support grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak area.

The survey was lead by Kim Annis, Master of Science, Wildlife Biologist, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Sarah Canepa, Masters degree in Science, Lands Specialist with Vital Ground Foundation, and Wayne Kasworm, Grizzly Research Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzly Bear Support at Cabinet Resource GroupThe survey began in 2006 and the study was published in 2007.

The survey was developed cooperatively by the Yaak Valley Forest Council, state and federal agencies, non-profit groups and members of the public. All were concerned with grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak area.

The methodology employed met standard requirements for a valid survey. Participants were randomly selected by telephone number from residents of Heron, Noxon, Thompson Falls, Trout Creek, Troy and Yaak. Of those telephoned 85% [502] agreed to participate.

Some of the major results were:

v 90% believe people can prevent most people-grizzly bear conflicts.

v 70% believe grizzly bears belong in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem and should be preserved for future generations.

v 62% are willing to accept changes to garbage disposal methods if it will help prevent problems with grizzly bears.

v 57% support efforts for grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem.

v  The above 57% soared to 75% if it can be done without moving problem grizzly bears into the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem from outside that area.

v The above 57% declined to 44% when queried about the recovery plan goal of 100 grizzly bears in the ecosystem. [see U.S. Fish and Wildlife Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, 1993]

v 32% are not aware that the motorized access restrictions on certain U.S. National Forest lands are due, in part, to grizzly bear management.

A summary of the results in more detail and a copy of the report, can be downloaded free from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) website.

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AMERICANS WANT CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER, WILDERNESS AND MORE ROADLESS AREAS
For years the majority of Americans have spoken out for clean air, clean, water, more wilderness areas, and more roadless areas. These results have shown up repeatedly in scientific surveys, polls, and studies with a high percent of validity.

In 1983, Jack Utter, University of Montana, polled 400 Montana citizens regarding wilderness. Montanans
strongly approved of the idea of wilderness. They strongly opposed the use of natural resources located in wilderness areas. Certain resources, under special circumstances, lowered the percentages.

Eight years later, Gundars and Johansen, University of Idaho, polled 2670 U. S. residents of wilderness counties. 81% felt wilderness areas were important to their counties. 65% were against mineral or energy development in wilderness areas. 53% stated that the presence of wilderness was an important why they live in the area or moved to the area.

In 1998, a study by Cordell, Tarrant, McDonald and Bergstrom, 56% of those polled felt we did not have enough
Hunter Remedial Advanced Education Wanted Forest Wildlife Service protected wilderness and about 29% thought the amount was just about right. 53.7 of those polled in western states felt there was not enough. Only 2.5% thought there was too much. Those favoring more wilderness valued the protection of water quality, wildlife habitat, air quality, passing such lands to future generations and protection of endangered species among other things.

From 1999 through 2001 the U S Forest Service held three comment periods for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Over 2.2 millions comments were received in support of the rule which is so vital to creation of wilderness areas. The most recent of the comment periods resulted in 13,891 comments from Montana residents in support of the rule. The support in Montana exceeded that of 24 other states.

A national survey in 2002 by Republican pollster Linda DiVall indicated that 76% of Americans supported President Clinton’s policy of permanently protecting roadless areas from development. It also revealed that 62% of Republicans thought likewise. 78% of the independents agreed. In this poll, a solid majority in each geographic region of the U.S. felt the nation did not have enough permanently protected land in the national forests.

Cross Country Skiing Montana Forest Wilderness ProtectionA national poll by the Los Angeles Times, in 2001, disclosed that 9 out of 10 said it was personally important to them that wilderness and open spaces be preserved. 40% of those polled said they were environmentally active. With the exception of Alaska, the majority said they didn’t want the search of new sources of energy to impact the environment.

The following year, 2003, a poll conducted by Zogby International showed that the majority of Americans want more wilderness. Strong support was shown for wilderness and it crossed political party lines, regions of the U.S., age groups, religious and ethnic backgrounds. 71% of those polled indicated that 10 percent or more of all lands in the United States should be protected as wilderness. When told that 4.7 percent was permanently protected, close to two-thirds believed that “not enough.” 51% of the Republicans said it was “not enough.” 72% of the Democrats polled and 70% of the Independent concurred with the majority of Republicans. The margin of error for this study was +/- 3.2 percent

In 2004, the U.S. Forest Service released results of 600 public meetings and hearings held in all national forests. With 1.7 million comments being received, more than 95% supported the strongest possible protection for the nation’s remaining roadless areas

Two years later, hundreds of Montana businesses voiced strong support for backcountry in the national forests. In March they urged Gov. Schweitzer to keep the backcountry natural and free of roads. Over 350 businesses were involved.

In 2007, a survey was made in Colorado – a state much like Montana, but with more people – of residents of that state. 71% of those polled agreed that quality wilderness is more important for recreation, tourism and wildlife than for energy development and motorized recreation. That level of support was consistent in all areas of the state, including very rural counties with much federal land. The support never dipped below 59% in any area. Pro-wilderness support was strong in both political parties, 85% for Democrats, 76% for Independents, and 52% for Republicans. Only 37% felt that wilderness unfairly restricts off-road vehicle users and mountain bikers.

Montana’s Attorney General filed an amicus brief in favor of the roadless rule in 2008 in a case brought by other states. This was done primarily because of the widespread support for the rule among Montanans.
The Governor cited many reasons why the roadless rule was important. Several counties in Montana had also expressed – in writing – support for protection of the rule. Included in these were several with substantial roadless areas.
 

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Citizens for Responsible Development.                     

In 2006, a group of concerned residents of Heron, Montana founded CRD.  A plan for a gated development of 74 sites clustered in the vicinity of a lodge to be built aroused them to action.

 

CRD raised serious questions about several issues connected with the proposed development……

Ø  the density of the development

Ø  the effects on air quality

Ø  the effect on the inadequate Heron bridge

Ø  the adverse effect on poorly maintained and repaired county roads

Ø  the inability of local emergency services to handle such a subdivision

Ø  the deficiencies of the developer to properly meet the requirements of environmental assessment, water

    quality and availability, septic proposals and storm water drainage

 In spite of these shortcomings the County Commissioners approved the development.

 

CRD went to court and lost all the way up to the Supreme Court of Montana.  Not opposing responsible development, but knowing that this development did not meet those criteria, the CRD appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.    In May, 2009, the Montana Supreme court decided the case in favor of CRD.

 

Some of the interesting comments of the Montana Supreme Court in this decision were:

 

            § 76-3-604(2), MCA, required the Board to make an initial or “baseline” determination

            about whether the application contained sufficient information for review of the subdivision

            and to notify the Developer of this determination. This necessarily includes a determination

            of whether the EA contained sufficient information as well, because the EA, when one is

            required, must be submitted with the application   [17]

 

            ¶19 CRD’s next contention is that the EA was inadequate because it did not contain

            the contents required by law, even if all of the information submitted by the Developer

            throughout the process is considered. We first note that CRD uses expansive language

            to describe what it believes an EA must contain, arguing that an EA must be “comprehensive”

            and offer a variety of proposed solutions for all impacts a proposed subdivision may create.

 

            Although portions of this later-submitted material are pertinent to the EA, they are not

            organized to satisfy EA requirements, but rather address other specific concerns….. Thus,

             information which could be relevant to the EA is buried in documents created primarily for

             other purposes.  [20]

 

            Subsection 603 also requires that an EA contain “a community impact report containing

             a statement of anticipated needs of the proposed subdivision for local services, including. . .

            . roads and maintenance . . . and fire and police protection….. However, while the EA and

             accompanying materials explain that the fire and police services are insufficient for the

             current needs of the community, there is no summary of the probable impacts that the

             proposed subdivision, which could potentially double the population of Heron, would

            have upon these already strained services. Would the anticipated growth in the number

             of local residents fostered by the new subdivision be served by existing services, or

            by an anticipated growth in local services, or would the subdivision exacerbate existing

             problems and further erode the ability to provide local services to all residents? The EA

            failed to provide “a summary of the probable impacts” upon these services.

            Section 76-3-603(1)(b), MCA.  [22]

 

            The Board violated the procedural requirements of 604 by failing to determine that the

             application and EA satisfied the initial, baseline requirements necessary for review of

             the application. The EA was inadequate because it did not summarize the impacts required

             by the statutes, and because much of the relevant information was not provided in

            a cohesive format. Some of the blame for the EA’s shortcomings can be traced to

             inconsistency between the local subdivision regulations and state statute,  [25]

 

 [nota bene: In using the term “Board”, the Supreme Court of Montana is speaking of the Sanders County Board of Commissioners]

 

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Troy Impoundment Pond

In the summer of 2011, Revett made overtures regarding the possibility of a meeting with CRG to discuss the Troy Mine and the Troy Mine Impoundment Pond.  Several meetings were held.  Troy Tailings Pond Courtesy C. HernandezThe mine was toured.

The impoundment pond was visited.  Discuss was held regarding the mine and the impoundment area.

CRG made positive written suggestions to the Troy Mine Revised Reclamation Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement in August, 2012.

Eventually there was an attempt to explore the matter of possible barrels being buried in the impoundment pond.  See article, “Exploration for Barrels”, for more information on this topic.

 

 

 

 

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ROCK CREEK ADIT
In 2008-2009, Kootenai National Forest and Montana DEQ began an Environmental Analysis of the Proposed Rock Creek Mine Adit.  Issues arose regarding the groundwater disposal method and the possibility of major failure of a part of Montana Highway 200 which is in close proximity to the mine site.  CRG contracted for expert analysis of the pending problem.  Kootenai Nat. Forest and Montana DEQ issued a Record of Decision approving the Exploration Adit methodology.

 

BEAVER RELOCATION PROGRAM IN BULL RIVER
Beavers are an integral component of North American’s watersheds and an economically viable means of improving a watershed.

Prior to settlement, there were approximately 10 beavers per stream mile or more than 60 million with a possibility of as many as 400 million. Today the population is  2-4 million or 2 beavers per stream mile. This drastic decline has many unfortunate effects…… increase in stream temperature, decline of wetlands, increased sedimentation, increase in peak flows, and changes in aquatic diversity.

Beaver ponds provide many benefits….

  • elevate the water table upstream of the dam

  • reduce sedimentation downstream of the dam

  • increase water storage

  • improve water quality

  • provide more waterfowl nesting and brooding areas.


The Libby Ranger District, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks are collaborating on a program to relocate beavers in the Bull River. Relocated beavers would come from existing populations in the District.


Cabinet Resource Group has endorsed this program and has donating one beaver trap.  This program is dependent on public donations.

If interested, send you donation to CRG, P.O. Box 238, Heron, MT 59844.
Make checks payable to CRG and note that it is for “Beaver Project”.


 

 

CRG SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
CRG is proud to have awarded scholarships in the amount of $600 each to the following students in the last three years.

        2010:  Mitch Carpenter from Plains High School.

        2011:  Shawn Sacchi from Thompson Falls High School

        2012:   Kaitlin M. Reinsma from Libby School
 

RECENT SPEAKERS AT CRG ANNUAL MEETINGS
The following persons have been recent speakers at CRG annual meetings

Bryan Baxter,  Expert Tracker, Wildlife Biologist

DOUG CHADWICK, Author, Widlife Biologist, Wildlife Photographer

GLORIA FLORa, Former Supervisor, U.S. Forest Service; Founder, Sustainable Obtainable Solutions

Phil Hough, Inveterate Marathon Hiker

Jim Jensen,  Exec. Dir., MEIC

GAYLE JOSLIN, Wildlife Biologist and Researcher, Board Member, Orion, The Hunters’ Institute

KATHERINE KENDALL, Research Biologist, Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project

Erich Peitsch, Avalanche Expert, Glacier Melting Researcher

Jim Posewitz, Author, Exec. Dir. Cinnabar Foundation, Exec. Dir., Orion, The Hunters’ Institute

DR. STEVE RUNNING, Nobel Lauriat, Global Warming

GREG TOLLEFSON, Freelance Writer

JON TURK, Author, Explorer
 


JON TURK ADDRESSES ANNUAL MEETING
Jon Turk was the main speaker at the March, 2012, Annual Meeting of CRG.  Jon’s expeditions have earned widespread acclaim.  National Geographic listed his circumnavigation of Ellesmere island as of the 10 Greatest Adventures of the Year 2011.  His kayaking from Japan to Alaska is listed as one of the 10 All-Time Greatest Sea Kayak Expeditions. With over 65 people in attendance it was one of the largest turnouts for an Annual Meeting.

 

 

 

 


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Last Updated 02/06/2013