Tester: Ignoring challenges of Montana forests ‘is not an option’

Senators, witnesses testify on landmark Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A U.S. Senate panel today spent several hours hearing opinions about Senator Jon Tester’s landmark Forest Jobs and Recreation Act before a packed house on Capitol Hill.

Tester himself testified before the Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee.  He was the first in a panel of witnesses representing different views of the legislation.

Tester said ignoring the challenges facing Montana’s forests “is not an option.”

“We address them head on. This bill was not created overnight,” Tester said.  “The concerns people have about it here will not be fixed overnight either.  But I did not come to the U.S. Senate to shy away from hard issues.  This is what is important to the people of Montana.  They worked tirelessly toward a solution for our forests.  And so will I.”

Senator Max Baucus, a cosponsor of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, joined Tester in speaking in support of the bill, calling it “remarkable” for what it aims to do.

The legislation was written with input from loggers, conservationists, hunters, ranchers, anglers and motorized users.  The bill creates jobs by requiring 100,000 acres of logging over ten years in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests.  It improves forest health.  It creates new permanent recreation areas.  And it safeguards some of Montana’s best fishing and hunting habitat.

Sherm Anderson, owner of Sun Mountain Lumber in Deer Lodge, testified during today’s hearing.  Anderson praised Tester’s willingness to introduce the bill, adding, “I can’t say enough about your guts in bringing this forward.”

“Is everyone happy with the results?  No,” Anderson said. “Does everyone get everything that they want?  No.  But this bill is a great start.  We must try something new, because obviously what we’ve done in the past and what we are now doing is not working.  I—and the majority of Montanans—are convinced this will work.”

Tester’s written testimony, prepared for delivery, is online HERE.