Update on Grantsdale groundwater discharge permit

This is the second brief filed by B4P counsel in our lawsuit challenging DEQ’s groundwater discharge permit for the Grantsdale Additions subdivision.
Excerpt…
IV. CONCLUSION
Bitterrooters ask that the Court determine DEQ acted unlawfully by failing to follow the statute and regulations in granting an exemption to non-degradation review. DEQ’s decision was arbitrary and capricious in light of the voluminous public comments raising concerns about nutrient pollution that DEQ failed to address in its decision-making process. Failing to complete a non-degradation analysis that includes the consideration of cumulative impacts from increased groundwater discharge in the Bitterroot Basin. The Court should find the DEQ’s approval of the Grantsdale groundwater discharge permit both arbitrary and capricious, and violation of § 75-5-
301(5), MCA, and Admin. R. M. 17.30.715(2). Bitterrooters request the Court declare the Permit void and remand the matter to DEQ for consideration of impacts to surface waters as required by statute cumulative effects and degradation of the Bitterroot River.
Read the entire document below
Read more…Grantsdale-Pls-Response-Brief-final.pdf

Bitterrooters for Planning wins major lawsuit against Ravalli County in Legacy Ranch subdivision case

Bitterrooters for Planning wins major lawsuit against Ravalli Coun

Local non-profit advocacy group Bitterrooters for Planning won a significant legal victory with a July 31 court ruling that nullified county approval of the largest residential subdivision in Ravalli County’s history.
B4P challenged Ravalli County’s August 2014 approval of the 639-home Legacy Ranch subdivision adjacent to the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge in Stevensville.
Read more…. Read more…Legacy_Ranch_OPINIONANDORDER.pdf

Bitterrooters challenge MT_DEQ approval of groundwater discharge permit for Grantsdale Addition

Excerpt “This case presents important issues of first impression regarding DEQ’s obligation to protect surface waters from pollution generated by subdivision waste – water. DEQ violated the plain language of §75-5-301, MCA, by failing to assess the potential for surface water impacts even though the subdivision will discharge up to 60,000 gallons of sewage with high concentrations of nutrient pollution each day into the shallow, rapidly moving groundwater aquifer close to the Bitterroot River. DEQ failed to gather any site specific data about ground – surface water connectivity. DEQ then failed to respond to the voluminous evidence the public provided on hydrologic connectivity. Read more…. Read more…June 26 Grantsdale Addition briefing.pdf

Ravalli Co Commission meet 10 am Thurs Mar 12

The county commission meeting scheduled for Thursday March 12,  to consider public notice and participation policy is for the commission to consider adopting the changes requested by the Bitterroot Star in our settlement proposal over the Big Sky Development lawsuit.

It will be a meeting where the public can voice their opinion over that $675,000 settlement.

If the commissioners adopt them as proposed with no changes the Star’s lawsuit against the commission will be dismissed. It is very important for the public to attend.

Below is a note from B4P:

Greetings all, Please read the message above from Michael Howell. This meeting takes place at 10 a.m. on March 12. It’s imperative that we can get as many people to attend this as possible. To remind you: the previous commission met behind closed doors to cut a deal with the attorney representing Paul Wilson, a land developer who sued Ravalli County over a commission decision (the commission on which Jim Rokosch, Kathleen Driscoll and I sat) to reject his proposal to use the county road department to bring Eight Mile Creek Road up to legally-required standards. He pledged to buy the materials. The law required him to pay for both materials and work crew. We rejected his proposal, he sued and the judge remanded the decision back to the Foss-Stoltz-Burrows commission. The commission agreed to the Wilson proposal AND awarded him $675,000. The judge was shocked, the original county lawyers were shocked. The Bitterroot Star sued the county over a decision that was made under shady circumstances. Before the lawsuit could progress very far, the county paid the lion’s share of the $675,000. It’s on your most recent tax bill. I don’t know the specifics of the Star proposal, but I do have faith in the Howells. They’ve been on this smoky-room decision since the beginning and I urge your attendance and support. I’ve asked Michael Howell for some specifics to pass on to you. I’m also expecting some information from Glenda Wiles, admin. asst. for the commission, on Monday.

Jack Thuloske; Hamilton, MT talk on January 28, 2015

This is a video of Attorney Jack Tuholske speaking January 28, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Bedford Building in Hamilton, Mont. Jack is Montana’s leading public interest and environmental law attorney. His topic is: The Road We Must Travel: Environmental Law in the 21st Century.
Video was taken by Kelsey Milner for Bitterrooters for Planning.

Citizens Outraged over Attack on Our Public Land

As reported in the Bitterroot Star and the Republic, commissioner Suzy Foss has arranged for Ken Ivory (a Utah state representative and CEO of the American Lands Council) to speak to elected officials and selected business people about how to get federal land (your birthright) transferred to state and local control.

A group of concerned citizens has put together some counter activities to inform the general public on this sneak attack on our rights and to counter the half-truths and mis-information spread by the American Lands Council and Mr. Ivory.

First, at 11:00 am this coming Monday (December 9th) morning, our group will present a citizens’ resolution of support for our federal public lands to our commissioners and ask them to adopt the resolution. Should be good theater! We need to pack the house.

Second,  in order to provide a more “fact-based” treatment of such “land grab” efforts, Bitterrooters for Planning is bringing in Professor Martin Nie, from the College of Forestry and Conservation at UM, to give a free, public lecture  on these Sagebrush Rebellion style movements. His lecture is Monday, December 9th, at 6:30 pm in the Community Center in City Hall (Bedford Bldg.) at 225 south 2nd street. Dr. Nie has published extensively on the topic and recently provided expert testimony to the Montana Legislature on the matter.

Third, Mr. Ivory is scheduled to make a public presentation on how local governments can take over federal public lands on Wednesday, December 11 at 6:30 pm in the Eagles Lodge on 2nd street. We need a strong turnout to show Mr Ivory and his ilk that Ravalli County citizens do not appreciate such anti-American activities designed to take away our rights. American flags will be available for waving.

It is easy to say this is just another Sagebrush Rebellion type movement that will fade away like all the others. But we cannot take that chance – these people are well funded (Koch Brothers) and are not going away. And we need to express to our commissioners in no uncertain terms that this land-grab effort cannot not stand.

Ravalli County Commissioners move forward on Public Land Grab

Here is a fact sheet produced by a group of concerned citizens with information on our county commissioners’ efforts to gain control of our American public lands! Please read and add your outrage to this travesty. Tell your commissioners that you are opposed to such “county supremacy” ideas and that you strongly object to proceeding down this road! Also, here is a Citizens’ Resolution, composed by the same group, that will be considered by the BOCC at a commissioners meeting in early December. It reaffirms Ravalli County’s support of our public lands.

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FACT SHEET

AMERICAN PUBLIC LANDS in AMERICAN PUBLIC HANDS Citizens’ Response to Raid on American Public Land Ravalli County Commissioner Suzy Foss has announced a public meeting for December 11, 2013, 6:30 PM at the Eagles, 125 N. 2nd Hamilton, MT. The purpose is to hear from a speaker, Mr. Ken Ivory of the American Lands Council (www.americanlandscouncil.org) and a state representative from Utah, to discuss “the regional movement to transfer our public lands…as contracted in our states Enabling Act…to state and local management”. Many citizens see this as an unpatriotic move toward privatization of our NATIONAL public lands, which are the birthright of every American from ‘sea to shining sea’.

This Tea Party privateers’ sneak attack on our American public land is another attempt at the old, discredited Sagebrush Rebellion. (Definition: “Failed movement led by conservative Western politicians to cede federal control of western land to individual states, promoting private ownership and commercial development.” www.termwiki.com) One might think Ravalli County Commissioners would have their hands full doing the work they were elected to do, especially with the turmoil they have riled in the Road and Bridge Department, Treasurer’s Office, Health Clinic, etc. However, they seem to have spare time to spend on issues entirely beyond their jurisdiction.

The language of the Enabling Act is clear: MONTANA STATE ENABLING ACT (Approved February 22, 1889.) [25 U.S. Statutes at Large, c 180 p 676.] “AN ACT to provide for the division of Dakota into two States and to enable the people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington to form constitutions and State governments and to be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and to make donations of public lands to such States.”….“Second. That the people inhabiting said proposed States do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States,…” A few self-serving people seem to have forgotten about America’s original rebellion against exclusion from a wealthy King’s private hunting preserve.

However outrageous and un-winnable this effort to disenfranchise citizens across our nation may seem, it is time for those who value our NATIONAL birthright to stand up and fight for it as those who came before us have done.

The love most Americans have for their public land is not based on short-term economics. However, it may be interesting to note some economic facts: *Western non-metropolitan counties with protected federal lands had faster employment growth and higher per capita income. Counties that had more than 30 percent of the county’s land base in federal protected status increased jobs by 345 percent over the last 40 years. By comparison, similar counties with no protected federal public lands increased employment by 83 percent. (Rasker, R., P.H. Gude, M. Delorey. 2013. In Review. The Effect of Protected Federal Lands on Economic Prosperity in the Non-Metropolitan West.Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy) *

Outdoor recreation is important to western economies. Nationally, OIF estimates an economic impact of $646 billion from active outdoor recreation (bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, paddling, snow sports, wildlife viewing, and trail-running, hiking, climbing), supporting 6.1 million jobs. (Outdoor Industry Foundation, The Active Outdoor Recreation Economy: A $730 Billion Annual Contribution to the U.S. Economy, 2006). *Protected natural amenities—such as pristine scenery and wildlife—help sustain property values and attract new investment (The Role of Amenities and Quality of Life in Rural Economic Growth. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 83(2): 352-365.Deller and Tsai 2001)

What you can do: attend the 12/11/13 meeting and bring friends, write letters to the editor, contact the Commissioners, attend Commissioner meetings, vote your values, speak up, sing out, stand up and be counted.

Bitterroot Star: editor@bitterrootstar.com; PO Box 8, Stevensville, MT, 59870

Ravalli Republic: editor@ravallirepublic.com: 232 Main St., Hamilton, MT 59840

Missoulian: oped@missoulian.com; 500 S. Higgins, Missoula,

MT Ravalli County Commissioners: commissioners@rc.mt.gov; (406-375-6500), 215 S. 4th, Hamilton, MT, 59840

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Citizen’s Resolution in support of Public Lands

WHEREAS, the Enabling Act of Feb. 22, 1889 enabling the people of Montana, Washington and the Dakotas to form state constitutions and be admitted into the union, clearly states: “That the people inhabiting said proposed States do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof . . .”; and

WHEREAS, the preamble to the Montana Constitution states “We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.”; and

WHEREAS, the Ravalli County Commissioners took an oath of office pledging to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state of Montana; and

WHEREAS, the USDA Forest Service estimates that 160 million people visited their national forests between 2008 and 2012, contributing $11 billion in recreation spending to nearby communities; and

WHEREAS, the USDA Forest Service spent more than $1.4 billion in firefighting costs nationwide in 2012; and

WHEREAS, state and local taxpayers do not have the financial resources to assume total obligation for the costs of fire management, maintenance of the Forest Highways, road and trails system, and other infrastructure located on America’s public lands within the boundaries of Ravalli County; and

WHEREAS, public lands connect the American people to their natural and cultural heritage, cultivate a conservation ethic, contribute to rural wealth, maintain clean water, support a diverse and healthy wildlife population and nurture the human spirit; and

WHEREAS, the Bitterroot National Forest and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness are public lands owned and enjoyed by ALL Americans; then

Let it therefore be RESOLVED that the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners acknowledges and supports the reality that America’s public lands are held in trust for all Americans;

And let it be further RESOLVED that the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners requests a county attorney opinion on the constitutionality of local county government control of American public lands.