Reporting from Los Angles (‘The West’ is “The West” to WaPo) Karl Vick in today’s WaPo is back on the Plum Creek / McLodges story addressed in column # 127 “Rocky Mountain Low” of 21 July 2008.

The sources Vick quoted in the earlier story — that EMR heard from after it was published — were not very impressed with Vick’s July coverage.

If Vick has this report about our home territory even partially right, EMR is not at all impressed with ANY of the players.

FEDS: The feds (US Forest Service) are trying to get a new “agreement” in place before 20 January (Inauguration of the new administration) to allow paving roads on public land to access potential Urban home sites on Plum Creek Timber Co’s land. What would you expect from an Agency which is being run by a former timber lobbyist?

MUNICIPAL AND STATE AGENCIES. The municipal and state governance practitioners (and the tut-tut-ers in Congress) are hoping the feds will keep Plum Creek from paving logging roads so they do not have to acknowledge their central role in fostering dysfunctional human settlement patterns.

PLUM CREEK: Plum Creek Timber cannot be so deluded as to think they can sell enough land for McLodges to make a difference in their bottom line.

Many owners of existing McLodges now realize they will NEVER be able to afford to spend another late summer / early fall in Montana. When the snow melts and current owners put their second, third and fourth ‘places’ on the market, the market will disappear.

If selling any significant part of their land for McLodge development is in Plum Creek’s business plan, they might as well file for bankruptcy right now.

ENVIROS: By failing to address the root problem – scattered Urban dwellings and dysfunctional human settlement patterns – Enviros have opened the door to ignorance compounding ignorance. See Larry Grosses’ note on Wal*Mart @ Wilderness Battlefield. Same problem here: The issue is Regional, Subregional settlement patterns – inside and outside the Clear Edges. Fussing over this or that transgression is a losing battle.

Further, ‘conservation advocates’ have never run the numbers. If they had, they would understand that the McLodges ploy is a smoke screen to get ‘conservation interests’ to buy the land and perpetuate the myth that these “Remote and Inhospitable” lands have Urban “development” value. Almost no one would want to develop most of the land. And the rest? If all the location-variable costs were fairly allocated almost no one could afford to “develop” or maintain a McLodge much less subdivisions of them.


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11 responses to “MORE ON MONTANA McLODGES”

  1. Larry G Avatar

    “Bozeman, Montana (FORTUNE) — “I don’t want to own every ranch,” Ted Turner once said. “I just want to own the ranch next door.”

    This is the kind of thinking that has made Turner, the restless 67-year-old (70 now) cable television billionaire, the largest private landowner in America. Turner, the former vice chairman of Time Warner (Charts) who left the company’s board in May, owns 15 ranches in seven states, covering 1.9 million acres. That’s 3,000 square miles – bigger than Delaware or Rhode Island”

    “At Ted’s Montana Grill, above all we are authentic. Real food. Real people. Real passion for the environment. At our Classic American Grill, everything is fresh, made from scratch, just as you order it. No freezer. No microwaves. No boil-in-the-bag. No pretense. And in keeping with co-founder Ted Turner’s focus on the environment, we are an eco-friendly establishment that is as passionate about the environment as we are about our food. Recyclable paper menus, paper straws and reusable glass are just a few of the industry-leading ways we do our part so you can eat great and do good. Ted’s Montana Grill. Who knew making the world a better place could be so delicious?”

    “The Flying D is an 113,613-acre ranch located in southwest Montana just north of Yellowstone National Park. The Gallatin and Madison rivers run through the ranch and the Spanish Peaks Mountains and Lee Metcalf Wilderness are next to its southern boundary. In the middle of increasing development pressures in the Gallatin Valley and Big Sky, the Flying D remains protected open space by virtue of a conservation easement donated to the Nature Conservancy in 1989. Like all Turner Ranches, the Flying D is operated as a working business – relying on bison and hunting as it’s principle enterprises.

    Here’s the question.

    Does Ted Turner live in the right-sized house in the right location?

  2. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Larry said:

    “Here’s the question.

    “Does Ted Turner live in the right-sized house in the right location?”

    There is only one Ted Turner and he has a number of dwellings. He has even more dwellings than that Alaska Governor’s running mate.

    The science of human settlement patterns is about the cumulative impact of many dwellings on a Subregional and Regional basis. For example: 500 or so scattered in the Swan Valley, 300 scattered on the hills above the west shore of Flathead Lake, 900 scattered on the hills around Missoula, …

    EMR does not know Ted well but suspects Turner’s farm and ranch managers do a good job — within the currently accepted standards of land management.

    As pointed out in THE USE AND MANAGEMENT OF LAND, the key issue is NOT owership of land but rather the cumulative impact of land management on a Subregional and Regional basis.

    Right now, Agency, Enterprise, Institunial or citizen ownership is cumulatively doing much for the sustainability of civilization.

    The question is how will these managers pay the bills when fair costs are allocated?

    Under future conditions, buffalo meat raised on the soon to be abandoned — if it is ever built — Wal*Mart at Wilderness and surrounding land will sell for far less than buffalo meat from Montana?

    What about when few can afford to fly to Montana to eat at the Grill or go hunting other than those who already own 100,000 acres?


  3. Larry G Avatar don’t need to go to Montana to eat at Ted’s grill…

    4 locations in the Washington NUR….

    Buffalo are also grown in the Washington NUR…. localvore food….right?

  4. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Larry said:

    “ don’t need to go to Montana to eat at Ted’s grill…”

    You got EMR there, he did not even know those Grills were there.

    But there is only one in Montana.

    To get the meat to this NUR they have to ship by refer truck or airplane, right?

    And when the costs are fairly allocated then the …

    “Buffalo are grown in the Washington-Baltimore NUR”…

    …will less expensive, right?

    “localvore food….right?”

    Right. Too bad Ted uses refrigorators, now fresh buffalo tongue, now that is localvore food …


    1/5/09 4:16 PM

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    I wonder if EMR is ever happy about ANYTHING.


  6. Daniel Nairn Avatar
    Daniel Nairn

    Woah. I just moved to Virginia from Montana. Bringing up the potential Plum Creek sale gives me flashbacks … the bad kind.

    One huge factor in this is the question of who is going to pay to protect these McLodges when fire season comes through every August. Up until now, the forest service foots the bill, so the homeowners don’t have to worry about the destruction of their property.

    The cost of fire insurance really should be figured into this.

  7. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Daniel Nairn:


    You came along in the middle.

    Check out:

    and the linked resources and then let us know what you think.


  8. Daniel Nairn Avatar
    Daniel Nairn

    thanks. This is an interesting discussion.

    By the way, the latest news is that Plum Creek has backed down. Apparently, there will be no deal.

  9. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    Great news.

    We have found over nearly 5 decades in the business of trying to evolve more functional settlement patterns that there is nothing quite like a recession to get people focused on what really makes sense.


  10. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Two final thoughts on this post:

    First if the NRDC post that Daniel cited is correct, and EMR has no reason to believe it is not, then the Karl Vick’s item in WaPo is even worse than first thought.

    Second the downside of a victory for common sense like this is that none of the players noted in the original post (or in Column # 127) will fully address the core porblem:

    Dysfunctional human settlement patterns

    And in this case the silly idea that millions of acres of Remote and Inhospitable Lands (yes it will be defined in TRILO-G) has value for urban land uses, IF ALL THE LOCATION VARIABLE COSTS ARE FAIRLY ALLOCATED.

    Daniel mentioned fire insurance but that is only the time of the iceburg see EMRs 23 October 2006 column # 85 Big (Gray, Brown) Sky and the 3 November 2003 column # 18 Fire and Flood.


  11. Ray Hyde Avatar

    I’ll agree tht you can make an argument that massive number of homes in the Wyoming wilderness might not be the right homes in the right places.

    Now maybe EMR can explain this:

    Home prices in Atlanta have been below those in a 20 city average since around 2000, signficantly below.

    And since the housing bust, they have fallen in price less than half or even a quarter as much.

    Darn those pesky facts. (It’s OK EMR, you can discount them because they came from MSM.)


    No doubt EMR will say that is because they weren’t worth as much to begin with. (Atlanta is not what the market has shown it wants. (Right).).

    And Larry will counter that the bust was caused by crazy loans based on hyperinflated expectations. (Partially fueld by bad ivestment advice offered, for free, from people who think like EMR. You get what you pay for.)


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