The bill, which balances increased logging and forest restoration with protection of wilderness and recreation areas, is scheduled for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing July 30th.
As Montanans, we all have a lot to gain from better stewardship of our national forests. We depend on our public lands for jobs, clean water, and outdoor recreation. More and more, however, it becomes more evident that few stand to benefit as much as business owners, even those whose businesses aren't tied to public lands in any obvious way. As a business owner, I see our unique outdoor heritage as Montana's competitive economic advantage.
The passage of wilderness-related legislation is always a lengthy process requiring multiple tries.
Now, thanks to an early hearing and growing business support, the third attempt may be the charm for Sen. Jon Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.
In anticipation of a July 30 Senate committee hearing on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, Business for Montana's Outdoors, which represents 60 business owners from 20 Montana towns, sent a letter Tuesday encouraging Montana's three congressmen to work together to pass the bill before the year's end.
Congressman Steve Daines,
I would like to thank you for your support of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. As a Flathead Valley resident, I am encouraged by your bipartisan support of a bill that protects wildlife and our outdoor oriented way of life. This shows me that you are committed to acting in the best interest of Montanans.
It's not exactly a match made in heaven, but a match made by the Montana electorate.
The state's congressional delegation, when Congress reconvenes in the new year, will consist of U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, Democrats who have both served in their respective posts for several years now, and newly elected Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.
While politicians are busy reminding us at every opportunity that it's election season, it's important that Montanans across the state take a moment to remind candidates that we're also in the middle of a different season: hunting season. And if there's one message that hunters need to send to candidates for office, it's that good wildlife habitat equals good hunting.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced the inclusion of his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in a Senate appropriations bill at a rally Friday on the University of Montana campus.
"If you join me, we'll be able to get it across the finish line," Tester told some 100 supporters from UM and the woods and sawmills of western Montana.
Tester said after a number of conversations he had with Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island who chairs the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, Reed "understands how important this bill is to our national forests."
There is a wonderful place in the extreme southwest corner of Montana. It's a mountain range critical to wildlife migration, and it harbors the absolute headwaters of the Missouri River, one of the state's mighty blue-ribbon trout streams.
The Centennial Mountains and its highest point, Mount Jefferson, are one of Montana's most rugged landscapes. This rare east-west range has nearly 100,000 roadless acres and supports healthy populations of mule deer, elk, moose, and bear. That's why most Montanans agree it should stay that way.