[MCN] Dear Forest Service (Part I)

John Meyer John at cottonwoodlaw.org
Fri Oct 21 14:49:04 EDT 2016

Dear Forest Service,

You may not remember me, but I used to work for you on the Flathead
National Forest in northwest Montana after getting a degree in biology from
the University of Montana. You hired me as biological technician. The
"timber beasts" would lay out a timber sale and it was my job to survey the
proposed cutting units for threatened, rare and sensitive plants. If I
found sensitive plants, the area wouldn't get cut.

That was the best job I've ever had. I got dropped off on the side of the
road with a map and a compass and hiked by myself in grizzly bear country
all day. I was paid to write down the names (in latin) of every plant I

After I surveyed for rare plants, I was hired on as a timber technician. I
went into the areas where I didn't see any sensitive plants and measured
trees. I was literally a tree hugger. After that, I marked the trees for
cutting. A stripe of paint across the tree meant it shouldn't be cut.

During that time I heard about the environmentalists trying to stop the
timber sales. I always heard about politicians saying we need to salvage
the trees after the fires so that the wood didn't go to waste.

I remember painting trees during one salvage logging project and finding a
fawn still with spots on it tucked into the base of a burned out tree. That
moment was a huge epiphany for me. I realized that politicians were using
rhetoric and fear to get what they want. The word salvage suggests that if
the trees are not cut, they will go to waste.

So there I was, an ornery twenty something, looking at the baby deer in the
burned tree that needed to be salvaged to prevent it from going to waste.
That event and one other (ask me later) made me decide to go to law
school.  All I wanted to do was sue you. During law school in Vermont, I
was lucky enough to work with my mentor on a lawsuit that invalidated the
construction permit for a $550 million dollar coal railroad in southeast
Montana. After I graduated, we won the case.

Dear Forest Service, I never really  stopped to think of the families that
count on you for jobs. All I knew is that Congress was using words like
"salvage" to paint anyone that questioned you as a bunch of radicals.

So here we are. At least one U.S. Senator from Montana just called a
lawsuit that my organization won for lynx "disastrous
When I stop to reflect on the case, I don't want to put small operations of
business. I grew up in a blue collar family and relatively speaking, I have
never made much money. I don't have health care, I still rent, and I have
bill collectors hounding me after spending a month in the hospital earlier
this year (including a coma). FN 1.

I don't want timber companies and Congress mowing down our National Forests
for their stockholders. Does it ever seem like many of our Senators are
owned by the millionaire and billionaire special interests? It seems like
they help out their corporate buddies and then blame the environmentalists
after their buddies make their money and file for bankruptcy.

Dear Forest Service, we need to get people into the woods. But not to cut
down trees. To monitor for lynx and wolverines. We can't count on the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. They have been captured by high-level
politicians. We need you to take the initiative to set up a multi-state
monitoring project for fisher, marten, wolverine and Canada lynx. When I
worked for you, the government was in the middle of a large-scale grizzly
bear monitoring project. There is no reason why we can't do it again.

This would be a great opportunity to get vets into the woods. My fried Doug
Peacock <http://dougpeacock.net/> is a vet. He said it was grizzly bears
that helped bring him back. Maybe wolverines or other carnivores can help
other vets.

I am doing a 22 day push up challenge to raise awareness for vets. 22 vets
a day commit suicide. We need to get down to zero.

Dear Forest Service, after you do 22 push ups for vets, let's sit down and
figure out how we are going to protect the people, forests, water and
wildlife of the West.

With love,


Footnote 1: I do drive a newer Tacoma. Sometimes I think people are sizing
me up: a new truck, a lawyer, he must make money. I am learning that I
can't believe everything I think. Looks can be deceiving. I make payments.



John Meyer
Executive Director & General Counsel
Cottonwood Environmental Law Center
P.O. Box 412 Bozeman, MT 59771
John at Cottonwoodlaw.org
(406) 546-0149

The information contained herein is privileged and confidential. If you are
not the intended recipient, you must delete this email and inform the
sender of the error.

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