Tester to speak during grazing seminar

The Havre Daily News

by Tim Leeds

The keynote speaker during an agricultural seminar is Montana’s junior senator, who will focus on his legislation on Montana forest policy and how it would affect agriculture.

Sen. Jon Tester’s communications director Aaron Murphy said Monday that Tester will speak Wednesday during the dinner at the winter grazing seminar being held in Havre by the Hill County Conservation District.

Tester, a Democrat, primarily will speak about his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which would require at least 100,000 acres of timber be logged in the Beaverhead- Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests over 10 years.

It also creates six recreation areas, safeguards hunting and fishing areas and releases 76,000 acres of land currently managed as wilderness. The bill has stirred up some controversy, with environmentalists saying it allows too much logging, while others say it creates too much wilderness area.

Montana’s Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, has been holding listening sessions in the state himself this month to collect input on the bill.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said in December he supports Tester’s bill, as does Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Murphy said Tester’s presentation, which will start about 6:45 p.m. during the dinner at the Duck Inn Olympic Room, is likely to be relatively short.

He said some other issues also will be addressed in the presentation, although the focus will be on the forest bill.

Jennifer Kenck, administrator of the Hill County Conservation District, said about 70 people have registered for the two-day seminar, although more are likely to attend and register at the seminar itself.

“I am sure we will get quite a few locals,” she said. People from all around the state have registered, Kenck said.

The two-day seminar starts with registration at 10:13 a.m. Wednesday at the Olympic Room. The presentations start at 1:30 p.m., with Darrin Boss of Montana State University’s Northern Agricultural Research Center near Havre the first presenter.

The banquet begins at 6:30 p.m., following a social hour that starts at 5 p.m. Russell Nemetz, ag director of the Northern Broadcasting System, will act as master of ceremonies. Larry and Phyllis Miller from Elk Water, Alberta, are scheduled to perform cowboy poetry during the banquet as well. Kenck said people can attend the banquet for $21. To register late for the seminar, with a final presentation scheduled for 11:20 a.m. Thursday, the cost is $55.