We’ve talked about Mary Rey before. He is under secretary for natural resources and environment in USDA, and thus oversees the U.S. Forest Service. Before that he learned the ropes from none other than Larry Craig and became a lobbyist for the timber industry.

In the past, he has barely escaped jail for defying court orders, and most recently is busy trampling on states rights to open national forest logging roads as acess to proposed and under constrution trophy homes deep the the forests.

These energy sucking, hard-to-service palaces are being built over the objections of states and counties that will have to pay the bills.

Rocky Barker discusses Rey today. D.C. political appointee flouts states rights and local control. Letters from the West. Idaho Statesman

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Earlier. Rey to explain Plum Creek deal. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

11 Responses to Former Larry Craig aide and timber lobbyist, uses federal position to help access to trophy home sites deep in the forest

  1. avatar Roy says:

    No hyperbole from you or Rocky, here Ralph. What about the plum for both Plum Creek and Montana that Max Baucus slipped into the farm bill? Are you going to mention that to the flock as well? You call it pork when the Republicans do things like that. I agree that as a public official, Rey needs to be more on the up and up with this dealing, but then again so should Baucus. Both have been making backroom deals with Plum Creek. Be consistant if you want any credibility, Ralph.

  2. Roy,

    I’m not familiar with what Baucus did. So Please tell us. Plum Creek is the timber company from hell.

  3. avatar Roy says:

    From the Missoulian…..note they try to stick to facts and leave out the hyperbole……

    Opinion
    Trusting a closed-door deal: If Plum Creek, Forest Service are striking a good bargain for Montana, why keep it secret? – Sunday, June 1, 2008

    A land deal of massive proportions involving public officials, public money and public resources is swiftly moving forward – while the public is being left in the dust.

    U.S. Forest Service officials have been negotiating with Plum Creek Timber Co. executives in closed-door meetings for months over long-standing road easements that may or may not grant access for uses other than logging. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey says they do. Many others say they don’t.

    Hanging in the balance is the question of whether Montana counties will end up responsible for maintaining roads and providing emergency services to subdivisions built miles from the nearest town and in the middle of wildfire-prone forests. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the answer to that question because when some county commissioners in Montana asked to see the easement agreements, Rey basically told them they would have to sue for them.

    Actually, what he said at first was that commissioners would have to look through their own files to find them, which would have been an exercise in futility since commissioners wouldn’t know which agreements to look for, nor which parts of them might be subject to “clarification,” in Rey’s words. Now he’s saying the commissioners’ request is under consideration.

    It’s more than a little disturbing that one government agency isn’t willing to share information with another, and that the public is being excluded from decisions that stand to have a significant impact on us. It really shouldn’t come to this, but if the only way to see the Forest Service’s easement agreements with Plum Creek is to take the agency to court, then so be it.

    Meanwhile, the federal farm bill was approved by a veto-proof majority in Congress, and included in that bill is a provision that could throw a lot of taxpayer money Plum Creek’s way. The provision essentially provides $250 million for land conservation by financing land buys through the sale of tax-credit bonds.

    Given all this, we doubt last week’s announcement that Plum Creek is ready to sell off about 300,000 acres of the 1.2 million acres it owns in Montana was entirely coincidental. Plum Creek said it would accept $500 million for the land. The state and federal governments could purchase it by using – surprise! – the money provided through the farm bill provision, plus an additional $100 million from state agencies, and the rest could be raised by the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, the two conservation organizations that have already begun meeting with Plum Creek to discuss which lands should be included in the deal.

    This has the potential to be a win-win for both the public and Plum Creek. Not only would Plum Creek get to sell off a large portion of its lands all at once, those lands would still be managed to allow for logging. The public would not only gain ownership of large swaths of forested land, we would also be saved the headache of trying to figure out how to protect private property in those areas from wildfires.

    Even better, if the deal involves enough acres in Missoula County, we could finally wrest the authority to protest zoning enacted by the county. Right now, Plum Creek owns more than 400,000 acres in Missoula County, which amounts to more than half the private land in six of Missoula County’s nine zoning regions – meaning it may protest and potentially cancel any attempt at zoning. While some state legislators have pledged to remedy this during the next session, a large enough land sale could resolve the issue, too.

    But we don’t yet know for sure. Though the farm bill provision appears to be a done deal, we haven’t been let in on just how its use will play out in Missoula County.

    We have no problem with Plum Creek angling to get itself a good deal. As a publicly traded company, its interests lie with its stockholders.

    But we can’t understand why our public officials, with the notable exception of county commissioners, aren’t pressing for more public involvement. They are supposed to be acting in the public’s best interests and at the very least, we deserve access to the same information Plum Creek has been given. After all, it’s our money that’s being offered.

    And it’s not at all clear that we’re getting

    a good deal.

  4. avatar Scott says:

    Roy,
    You have a very strange reading of the where the “plum” is. The acquisition money in the Farm Bill is so that a good chunk of Plum Creek ends up as public land – producing trees and wildlife, not subdivisions. It does not benefit Plum Creek. Their alternative is to subdivide their timberland. The citizens of the US (esp. Montana) are the beneficiaries of these funds.

    Rey, on the other hand, is enriching Plum Creek (and the cost of the potential public acquisition) by his interpetation of the Plum Creek easements across public lands and thereby increasing the value of the private Plum Creek holdings.

    His arrogance towards the state of Montana and the communities that will have to serve the wildland subdivisions that he is entitling is just another example of selective states rights from the Bush administration.

  5. avatar Roy says:

    Scott,

    Plum Creek is going to benefit from the farm bill at the tune of $500 million dollars. And the tax payers have to swallow the additional $300 billion in ethanol subsidies and food stamps that was also part of the farm bill ‘package’. If Baucus deal was so good, it could have stood alone in full discloser to the taxpayers. By the way, has Baucus ever taken campaign contributions from Plum Creek? You think this coming election cycle there will be a nice contribution forth coming to Baucus? How about Tester? He jumped Rey and Plum Creek early on, but has been quiet lately. What’s up with that?

    $1,667 an acre is not a bad price to get for land, expecially in one big 300,000 acre chunk. No commisions either. Only makes the remaining 900,000 acres even more valuable, doesn’t it?

  6. avatar Scott says:

    Roy,

    I am not going to defend the way $$ is authorized & appropriated in Congress or campaign finance. That is not a subject of this thread and you & probably agree.

    But consider the consequences of the acts of Baucus & Rey:

    The Baucus authorization will benefit the public:
    1) The entire $500 mill. purchase price does NOT come from the farm bill…….more like $250 mill. The Nature Conservancy is going to put up a substantial portion of the purchase price.
    2) The property (mostly) ends up as public lands.
    3) The property does not get subdivided by Plum Creek. Plum Creek could probably get more for the land by subdividing & selling – so how does Plum Creek get the “plum”?

    Rey, on the other hand, is directly adding enormous value to Plum Creek holdings and ignoring the impacts to the public………and possibly making the public acquisition too expensive. All without public review and input.

  7. avatar Roy says:

    Scott,

    Plum Creek currently has a number of acres in Montana for sale on the open market for far less per acre than the Baucus/NC/State of Montana deal is willing to pay. How was that price negotiated? In Rey’s discussions with PC, do you think this land purchase was at all discussed? I have a hunch it was.

  8. avatar Roy says:

    Also if this PC land is logged over ‘moonscape’ as Rocky and Ralph would lead one to believe, why would anyone, including the government,want to buy it in the first place?

  9. avatar Scott says:

    Roy,

    Where did Ralph or Rocky suggest that the PC land that the TNC & TPL would buy is “moonscape”? I challenge you to document that.

    TNC & TPL have negotiated the purchase price – not Baucus or the Feds – and it will have to be supported by appraisal.

    From your responses, it seems like you don’t even read my posts. Did you get it that TNC is putting up approx 50% of the purchase price? Did you understand that Rey acted soley for the benefit of PC and to the detriment of US & Montana citizens? While there is plenty to criticize about Baucus and the “process”, it is clear that he was acting mostly – if not entirely – for the benefit of the public.

    ‘Nuf said.

  10. avatar Roy says:

    From Rocky’s article…….

    “The company is Plum Creek, which liquidated tens of thousands of acres of timber in the 1980s leaving huge clear cuts that helped convince many Americans that logging was bad.”

    From Ralph in an earlier post……

    “Plum Creek is the timber company from hell.”

    Sorry for interpreting Ralph and Rocky’s comments as ‘logged over moonscape’. My personal experience’s of PC timberlands are not that drastic. If anything, for the most part, they have been managed far better than USFS timberlands.

    TNC negotiate the price for the land that will be purchase with $250 million federal dollars?

    Not sure what exactly what Rey did or said…..I wasn’t there. Neither were you. I understand that whatever it is you want to believe is pure speculation. I have stated that whatever Rey negotiated behind closed doors, should have been open to the public. That’s where the problem is.

    Why didn’t TNC negotiate in front of the public reguarding this land purchase that is using federal and state dollars?

  11. avatar natehobbs says:

    Ughh anytime I hear of Larry Craig or his office I get sick..the more I look into it the more angry I become…He spoke at the congresional hearing over a oil bill on c-span..one of his slides proposing areas we explore for oil had among other places…Rocky mountain shale oils, and the yellowstone area.

    The supercabins annoy me to no end, close down roads with giant gates and ‘residents only’ signs than next thing you know there is a strip of asphalt in the middle of what once was forest area leading back to there residence…than we have to pay for massive fire fighting efforts to protect there cabin in the middle of nowhere that sits empty the majority of the year and whose owners put in little to nothing into the local economy’s where the home stands.

    Even worse they than demand local governments for better winter plowing, EMS accesse ect ect and on and on…I say states and local goverments should ignore Washington and abide by the original easement codes…let the multi million dollar cabela queens plow there own roads in winter and figure out how to get water to there establishments on there own expense.

    Things they should of thought of before they built a megahome in the middle of a forest anyway…

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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