Tester introduces much-anticipated Forest Jobs and Recreation Act
Bill will put Montanans back to work in the woods, protect clean water, hunting & fishing
(TOWNSEND, Mont.) – Standing with loggers, outfitters, conservationists, hunters and fishermen who spent years working together on a plan for Montana’s forests, Senator Jon Tester today introduced his much-anticipated legislation to reform forest management to “make it work” for Montana.
“Our forests, and the communities and folks who rely on them, face a crisis right now,” Tester said today at a news conference at RY Timber in Townsend. “Our local sawmills are on the brink, families are out of work, while our forests turn red from an unprecedented outbreak of pine beetles, waiting for the next big wildfire. It’s a crisis that demands action now. This bill is a made-in-Montana solution that took years of working together and hearing input to create a common sense forest plan.”
Tester said his 80-page bill, formally called the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, will create jobs, protect clean water and keep Montana’s prized hunting and fishing habitat healthy for future generations.
The legislation is based on ideas brought to Tester by Montanans of all stripes who teamed up, despite their differences, to work out plans for Montana’s forests. Tester met with many other Montana organizations and individuals, and used the input to write his legislation.
Tester’s Forest Jobs Bill affects Montana’s Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the Three Rivers District of the Kootenai National Forest and the Seeley Lake District of the Lolo National Forest.
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, in part:
- Requires the U.S. Forest Service to harvest at least 70,000 acres over ten years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
- Requires the U.S. Forest Service to harvest at least 30,000 acres over ten years in the Kootenai National Forest.
- Creates a new Big Hole National Recreation Area.
- Sets aside forest areas for snowmobiles and bicycles.
- Releases 76,000 of acres of BLM land to uses such as timber harvest and recreation. Right now that land, part of seven Wilderness Study Areas, is not official wilderness but has been managed as if it were.
- Ensures about 677,000 acres of prime hunting and fishing habitat now and for future generations of Montanans through wilderness designation.
- Does not impact grazing rights.
Tester today encouraged Montanans to read and weigh in on his Forest Jobs Bill.
Tester launched a new information website, tester.senate.gov/forest, which includes resources, maps, a link to the legislation, and a feedback forum. Montanans can also use the site to sign on as “citizen cosponsors” of the measure.
Tester noted that introducing the bill is the first step of the legislative process. The legislation must pass both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before it is signed into law by the President.
“This bill is the product of Montanans working together on Montana values—jobs, clean water, hunting and fishing,” said Tester, a member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee. “Introducing this bill is the beginning of the process. I invite all Montanans to join this effort as we work together to move this legislation forward.”
“For more than two years, Senator Tester has been a strong leader on timber issues,” said Senator Max Baucus. “He knows how important it is to put people back to work in the woods, and to create good-paying jobs. As a fellow Montanan, I’m proud of the efforts Senator Tester has made to keep the timber industry strong, while protecting our outdoor heritage.”
Additional information about Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is available online at tester.senate.gov/forest.
WHAT MONTANANS ARE SAYING…
“This bill provides the means for better forest management for the benefit of all.”
—Sherm Anderson, Owner, Sun Mountain Lumber, Deer Lodge
“Senator Tester’s bill is made in Montana by Montanans for Montanans. It is a bill for the future of our children—their jobs and their outdoor heritage.”
—Tom Reed, Trout Unlimited, Pony
“Our lives are tied to the national forest. It’s where I make my living, out in the forest every day. That’s why it’s so important to me.”
—Tim Linehan, Linehan Outfitting, Yaak
“Ultimately, the greatest success here may be that Montanans of such different backgrounds are working together. These Montanans found a way to sit around the table and work together, not against each other.”
—Suzie Browning, Granite County Commissioner
“Both sides — conservationists and those of us who make their livelihoods from forest products — agree that letting the forests die from insects and disease or burn up is not in our best interests.”
—Tony Colter, Manager, Sun Mountain Lumber, Deerlodge
“Senator Tester’s bill rewards Montanans for doing exactly what politicians always urge us to do: Work together to produce solutions.”
—Bruce Farling, Trout Unlimited, Missoula
“Jon’s legislation will go a long way for folks who make their living in the woods, and hunters and anglers. It’s good for wildlife. It’s good for clean water. And it’s good for Montana’s outdoor heritage.”
—Smoke Elser, outfitter, Missoula
“In my mind, you are part of the problem or part of the solution. Let’s go find it. You can fix a lot of things with that if you use that spirit.”
—Joel Chandler, Kootenai Ridge Riders ATV Club, Libby
“Our state’s hunting and fishing traditions absolutely depend on public access, clean water and healthy wildlife habitats. By protecting and preserving these habitats, we will protect and preserve these traditions.”
—Greg Munther, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Missoula