Changes Senator Tester Considered but Cannot Make
Add trigger or 'phase in' language
- The Issue: Some want wilderness designated only after timber is harvested.
- Why it cannot be included: After people asked Sen. Tester to consider the idea, he asked the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), about it. Sen. Bingaman told Sen. Tester trigger or phase-in language would make the bill "dead on arrival." Senator Tester wants ideas that will work, because this bill is about creating jobs. Today, most of the areas proposed as wilderness in the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act are already managed as wilderness by the agency. So the wilderness trigger has already been pulled -- without clear mandates for forest management. Finally, some people have voiced concern that if a trigger were in place, some anti-wilderness advocates would sue to stop timber sales, just to stop wilderness from being designated. That's an unintended consequence that no one wants.
Add 'hard release' language
- The Issue: Some people have called for the permanent release of public lands from ever being considered for wilderness designation in the future ("hard release").
- Why it cannot be included: A bill cannot legally bind a future Congress. Future generations will make future choices. They may undo what this bill does, or add to it. That is why no bill has ever passed Congress with "hard release."
Remove certain exceptions from proposed wilderness areas
- The Issue: Some people feel the exceptions made in the bill compromise the definition of wilderness. The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act includes exceptions such as sheep trailing and motorized access to maintain water infrastructure.
- Why it cannot be changed: Sen. Tester put these exceptions in the bill to make sure this is a made in Montana solution that works for Montanans. He carefully chose these exceptions he included and they each serve specific purposes to ongoing activities in Montana's local communities.
Strip all timber components, making it a 'wilderness bill'
- The Issue: Some people believe there should be no components in the bill that provide a guaranteed timber supply through forest restoration.
- Why it cannot be changed: Sen. Tester's bill is not a wilderness bill. Wilderness is one fundamental component of the bill. Recreation and timber harvest are other fundamental components of the bill. All three components are intertwined and carefully balanced.