Bravo to the members of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project whose op-ed recently appeared in the Missoulian (April 28). Key to their success has been the inclusive nature of developing the agreed-upon management approach.
However, the authors encourage passage of Sen. Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to build upon and complete the work they have begun. Until the iconic landscapes are permanently protected for wildlife habitat and as sources of clean water, the work isn't yet done.
Big game requires big country; almost 700,000 acres of habitat are set aside by this act. The lands identified in the FJRA include some of the best elk, sheep, bear, deer, moose and goat hunting in the state of Montana.
Further, FJRA helps stabilize one of the most important economic drivers in Montana, tourism and recreation, by providing more than 1 million acres of protected Wilderness and Special Management Areas managed specifically for recreation and tourism. According to the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research, out-of-state visitors to Montana spend more than $2.3 billion annually.
FJRA means restoration, timber, recreation, and wilderness protection, which add up to economic development and jobs for Montana. Thank you, Tester, for seeing the vision developed by local groups to protect our lands and way of life.
Daphne Herling, former president of Montana Wilderness Association, Missoula