Tester addresses pine beetle problem

Montana's News Station

On his trip to the Mining City on Wednesday, Senator Jon Tester got a close up look at some of the pine beetle devastation in forests from Great Falls to Butte.

Millions of acres of forests across the west are being killed by pine bark beetles.

As Tester's plane passed low over the Helena and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, the magnitude of the problem showed itself.

"Saw a lot of old beetle kill, which is grey, and a lot of new beetle kill, which is red, and it really does talk to the problem the beetle kill has had on those two forests in particular, over the last four, five, six, seven years," Tester said.

Tester has a forest bill in the works that would require dead trees to be harvested, particularly in areas near cities and other residential areas.  The senator said a key to making his plan work is keeping Montana's timber mills open.

"That is critically important when we talk about managing our forests and having tools to manage our forests with. There's other states in the union that have lost that forest infrastructure and they are in much, much greater problems as far as management goes with our forests," he said.

Tester said he believes the dead trees can be harvested at a profit, giving the government money to reinvest in replacing lost stands.