Some Commissioners want the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to manage the national forest. We have two choices, neither is satisfactory. Continued management by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), or the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
The USFS is an inefficient bureaucracy that does a poor job at great cost. Last time I lived in Darby (1969) there were four mills and a booming logging industry. Now we don’t harvest trees, we let them burn in the summer, breathe the smoke, and spend a lot of money fighting the fires.
The DNRC’s forestry division works well. If it could grow and keep its efficiency DNRC could do a better job than the USFS for less money.
Some Commissioners believe that DNRC will sell more timber than the USFS and cover its increased costs. Not likely. Every timber sale will be litigated and the USFS has lost on a regular basis; the state will do no better. Losing means that the state pays not only its litigation expenses, but the obstructionists’ expenses. DNRC has not had to litigate its sales because the proceeds from its sales go to the School Trust Fund (Fund). Income from the former national forests would not go to the Fund and litigation would continue.
If the national forests are transferred to the state they are not taxed, nor do we get Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) from the federal government. If DNRC takes over the forest, Montanans pay the increased cost.
Two conservative philosophies are in conflict, without a good choice. Local control versus higher taxes. Many people in this county want local control. Almost all the people in the county do not want their taxes raised.
For my part, I choose no increase in my taxes.