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.
In eastern Montana, oil and gas production is booming, while in the western part of the state the timber industry continues its decline. This begs the question, can we create a viable, long-term timber industry? An industry for the 21st century, not the previous one? An important step in achieving this is to provide the industry a predictable supply of timber from public lands. How do we do this?
It’s only January and I’m already tired of the political games of 2012. With that said, I’d like to address a question to Rep. Rehberg. Mr. Rehberg, do you or do Montana’s sawmill owners know more about the timber industry? That’s an honest question because, if I’m not mistaken, the sawmills who support Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act say that it’s good for their business. But in a recent tour of newspaper editorial boards you’ve claimed the bill doesn’t guarantee timber work. So who has it right?
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act drew public praise at a recent Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing. Sherman Anderson and Wally Congdon, a logging company owner and a cattleman, both applauded the bill for it’s effort to sustain the timber industry as well as create recreation opportunities and support local economies.