Monday, November 11, 2019

South Crazy Mountains Forest Service Land Exchange Proposal Issues

South Crazy Mountains Forest Service 
Land Exchange Proposal

South Crazy Mountains Forest Service Land Exchange Proposal

I apologize for not getting this out sooner, I had an event that hit my TBI really hard this last month, affecting my ability to work. So this review is not nearly as thorough as normal.

The Forest Service has been negligent, not just in the other aspects of the Crazy Mountains, but in how they are presenting this South Crazy Mountains Land Exchange and what the public will lose. For years this land exchange has stalled and been objected to. I will not retype all the details out in this newsletter, please see the webpage I set up to house the documents, maps and details. In the right hand side bar I also have links to some pertinent comments by others and BHA's video.

Public comments are due on Nov. 18th, just 1 week away.
Their comment page is acting up, but here is the link to comment online.

If you can't get thru the online portal, and since no other comment submission address was provided in the Preliminary EA Proposal, I would suggest emailing your comments to Dee Closson, Realty Specialist,
CCing Supervisor Mary Erickson
Project 56687 - South Crazy Mountains Land Exchange

Mail: Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, P.O. Box 130, Bozeman, MT 59971;
Fax, (406) 587-6758;
or personally to 10 East Babcock Street, Bozeman, MT

Some points of interest:

  • We would be abandoning Trail #272, which goes back, at least, to the 1925 Forest Service Map
  • We have public access easements to Sections 8 & 4 of 2N11E (easement documents on webpage) through Rock Creek Road #199. 8 & 4 overlap by about 48 feet providing access to both.
  • Additionally, I have included a PDF of  of a 1986 Park County Attorney Opinion on corner crossing, which recently helped a member of the public get his corner crossing trespass dismissed in court (please see my notes on the webpage). This could allow further access from FS Section 4 to 3N11E FS Sections 32 & 34.
  • In the bigger Crazy Mountains picture, what is moving and driving all these landowner deals right now, may involve the fact that Senator Daines has received $12,500 (2012-2014) and $7,800 in 2020 cycle from Altria (tobacco industry, top non-individual contributor in Montana), the parent company of Philip Morris USA, who owns the Crazy Mountain Ranch, one of the 3 landowners involved in the proposal. *Remember that it was Daines who submitted landowner complaints and false information to get District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz removed from his position (links and details on webpage).
  • Also, USDA Ag Secretary, who is in charge of the Forest Service has also received contributions from Altria when he was governor of Georgia, as well as gifted flights from Altria, which were part of an ethics investigation. Remember that as soon as Sony Perdue was confirmed, he attended a Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls, organized and sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines; days later Sienkiewicz was removed from his position.
  • No Alternatives were provided that would include an exchange with 1 or 2 landowners, rather than all 3 together, allowing for an exchange with Wild Eagle Ranch (red) & Rock Creek Ranch (blue), but excluding Crazy Mountain Ranch. I don't see an issue with the Wild Eagle and Rock Creek Ranch exchanges, but object to Crazy Mountain Ranch exchange.
  • CMR will permanently reserve rights to operate and maintain the Rock Lake dam and outlet tunnel in the deed through which CMR conveys Section 11 to the Forest Service. CMR would retain its water rights for the volume of water from full pool to the bottom of the outlet tunnel.
  • The Forest Service has not provided an Environmental Assessment for the public to review of the potential hazardous substances, nor environmental impacts, as mentioned above, for us to make an informed public comment. Provided is a PRELIMINARY EA.
  • CMR has a conservation easement exception for "one new recreation cabin which may be built and maintained on the land protected by the CE". It does not state the size of the recreation cabin or preclude outfitting, hunting camps, which could be privatizing that elk herd which is currently available to the public. Listed activities at the CMR now include: snowmobiling, zip-lining, dog sledding, which could affect the wildlife habitat currently under FS public land.

Please take a few minutes to check out the information and submit a public comment to protect our public lands and access.

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Passing of a Montana Conservation & Public Access Warrior

The Passing of a Montana Conservation & Public Access Warrior

Tony Schoonen - shown above with his beloved "River Rat" cap. Photo courtesy of Roy Morris.

Tony Schoonen, an Army veteran and 30 year educator & principal, who currently resided in Butte, Montana, was a passionate conservation and public access advocate. His passing away last night is a tremendous loss to Montana.

Tony was a good friend of mine, a kindred rabble rouser. As I researched access years ago, I kept seeing Tony's name and contacted him. He taught me a great deal about Montana's public access and how they waged war on privatization. Much of the public land and water access that we enjoy today, Tony was right there, fighting for it: from OpEds in the papers, river protests on the Ruby River, legislative sessions, State Land Board meetings and FWP Commission meetings - rallying the Butte contingent for battle.

Tony was a member and past president of one of Montana's premier hunting & angling organizations, the Skyline Sportsmen Association and local leader of the George Grant Chapter of Montana Trout Unlimited. He had also been President of the Montana Wildlife Federation.

On March 31, 1980, Jack Atcheson Sr., Tony Schoonen, and Jack Jones formed and filed the Montana Coalition for Access on State Public Lands, Inc., funding their work out of their own pockets. The name would later be changed to Montana Coalition For Appropriate Management of State Lands, Inc. This Coalition led the charge for our state lands public access.

Inspired by the State Lands Coalition, another coalition was formed, on April 14, 1980 – the Montana Coalition for Stream Access, Inc., which Tony was a member of. It was decided to first pursue Stream Access, which then became law in 1985.

In 1985, the Public Land Access Association (PLAAI) was created to carry the banner, later embracing stream access, becoming Public Land/Water Access Association (PLWA). Tony became a PLWA Board of Director in 1997, elected as Treasurer, a position he held through 2007. He remained on the Board, in 2008 until his recent passing.

In 2016, Tony was inducted into the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame.
Recently, Schoonen became active in the battle for our public access in the Crazy Mountains, becoming a part of our Coalition lawsuit.

While this is not a complete list of all the many conservation organizations Tony was involved in or the positions he held, nor exhaustive of the many awards or acknowledgements he received, it is representative of his passionate energy and leadership. His booming activist voice, outspoken opinions and rabble-rousing will be sorely missed.

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Friday, September 20, 2019

Biopolitics & Privatization

Biopolitics & Privatization

Hughes Creek Road Public Access - Below is a timeline of the continuing obstruction of our Public Access to our USFS Public Lands in Ravalli County, on the Hughes Creek County Road. Bundy invited by landowners to get involved (Nevada armed standoff w/ BLM & Malheur armed occupation).

Hughes Creek Co. Rd. blocked by private landowner locked gate for over 30 yrs, has been contested during that time.
1/25/2017 - Ravalli Co. Comm. voted to reject the landowner petition to abandon portion of Hughes Creek Rd.
4/2017 - landowners sue - case is dismissed
7/20/2017 - Landowners in Hughes Creek Rd road suit ask Montana Supreme Court to intervene dismissal of lawsuit.
10/12/2017 - Attorney for landowners filed part of his brief in the form of a theatrical play.
7/20/2018 - MT Supreme Court upholds Ravalli Co. Comm. decision to reject landowner petition for abandonment.
9/2018 - Landowners file 2nd appeal
7/9/2019 - MT Sup. Court denies 2nd appeal, Ravalli County Comm. gives landowners 30 days to remove gate or the county will do it.
9/11/2019 After Bundy is invited into situation by landowners, he writes blog article.

PEER: NEW PARK SERVICE E-BIKE ORDER INVALID - NPS Edict Violates Federal Laws and Misinterprets Interior Directive
"A new National Park Service order allowing electric bicycles on park trails violates several federal laws, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which is threatening to sue any park that implements it. Significantly, the acting NPS Director, who issued the order, did not follow the instructions given by the Secretary of Interior."

Theft of our public lands - "The Interior Department is transferring public lands (CA, AZ, NM) to the Pentagon for construction of about 70 miles of border wall, in a move likely to ratchet up controversy over one of the Trump administration’s signature projects. The action by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt moves jurisdiction over about 560 acres currently overseen by the Bureau of Land Management to the U.S. Army, which will use it to construct barriers the president has said will help secure the nation’s southern border against illegal migration."

FWP to pay for CWD testing statewide

Hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose in these areas should stop at a local CWD-sampling check station to have the animal sampled. FWP staff will collect samples and submit them for testing.

"We argue that the Montana Constitution mandates restoration of public, wild bison in our state.
There are no public, wild bison, year-round, in Montana – not by the legal definition of wild bison, nor by a biological definition of wildness. (Wild Bison and the Law)"
Please contact Governor Steve Bullock at and FWP Director Martha Williams recommending restoration of public, wild bison on the CMR National Wildlife Refuge, fulfilling a mandate of our Montana state Constitution.

Our most powerful, high-tech climate solution? Our forests - World Economic Forum
"International focus on fossil fuels has overshadowed most powerful & cost-efficient carbon-capture technology world has yet seen: #forests. Scientific research confirms forests are absolutely essential in mitigating Climate Change - carbon sequestering & storage capabilities."

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT