[The editorial letter posted here was shared with StopTheSwap.net before it was posted at Idaho County Free Press. In the Idaho County Free Press, Commissioner Brandt's editorial letter was printed in full, yet this excellent editorial on the behavior and community outrage about Western Pacific Timber from a long time Bozeman, MT resident -- did not receive the same editorial priority or courtesy. Readers were forced to go online to continue reading the entire article. Why does Commissioner Brandt receive priority space, but citizens who write in do not? Seems a little biased if you ask any citizen opposed to the Alternative F proposal. ]
January 14, 2012
This letter addresses the proposed land exchange between the USFS and Western Pacific Timber.
I join my sister Kim Chenoweth of Grangeville in opposing this land exchange for numerous reasons. I have a B.S. degree in Forestry (1973) from the U. of I. and have resided in Bozeman, Mt. since the mid 70′s. Since 1978 I have been in the real estate profession and have followed the various Gallatin National Forest land exchanges over the years.
Big Sky Lumber Co. (Tim Blixseth) did an exchange with the USFS to “block up” public and private land ownerships next to Big Sky resort.
The result was the now-famous “Yellowstone Club”, an exclusive gated ski and golf community for the very wealthy with no public access.
No doubt you have heard of the many difficulties and controversies associated with the Yellowstone Club including water pollution issues and environmental degradation. You may contact the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for information and records relating to these issues.
The bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club and it re-emergence under new owner Cross Harbor has been well documented with many lawsuits (some still pending). There was a claim by the State of Mt. Department of Revenue for income taxes owed by Blixseth of which another lawsuit was contemplated to be filed against the State. There are additional lawsuits against Credit Suisse which was the lender for the Yellowstone Club. These are very interesting and involve accusations of Blixseth diverting multi-millions in loan funds from the Yellowstone Club for personal use. This can be followed in Missoula, Mt. courthouse records and Montana newspapers.
This proposed land exchange between USFS and WPT involves private lands in the Upper Lochsa that are already logged and located at higher elevations with less accessibility in return for prime lower elevation lands that are not logged and offering excellent public access for recreation and other opportunities for both local Idaho residents and public at large. If this exchange is approved we can no doubt expect extensive logging and degradation of these lands for private use and profit and, most likely, a reduction or elimination of public access.
In today’s forest management plans public access is at the forefront of many pending issues and decisions nation-wide. Big Sky Lumber has not been known for its environmental records here in Montana. I am asking all of you to please be aware, investigate, and do your research regarding WPT and Blixseth before considering this land exchange.
When the public loses access it is gone forever!