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Forest Jobs and Recreation Act Poll: 73% Say “Yes”

August 12, 2009

MISSOULA, Mont. - About seven in ten Montanans say they like it; 15 percent don't like it; and the rest are undecided. That's the finding of a new poll on Senator Jon Tester's (D-Mont.) "Forest Jobs and Recreation Act."

The legislation means almost 700,000 acres of prime hunting and fishing grounds would be secured for future generations. It would also require timber harvests and treatments in the Kootenai and Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forests, and set aside some forested areas for snowmobile use.

To Tom Reed, with the group Trout Unlimited, the poll also shows that Montanans don't follow political or geographic lines in supporting the legislation, likely because the bill was crafted after years of collaboration.

"People are glad to see folks working together to come up with some reasonable solutions for Montana's forests."

Some critics of the proposal say the outline for timber harvest goes too far and will negatively impact grizzly bears, elk, and fishing in the Big Hole region, although Reed says wildlife experts believe they will not be significantly affected. He adds anglers and hunters have long wanted to see management improvements in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands within Montana's borders, and he believes this act fits the bill.

"It's protecting some of our most treasured high country areas, and allowing recreational use and traditional uses of our forests to continue."

Harstad Strategic Research conducted the telephone surveys of more than 500 registered Montana voters. The poll was commissioned by Montana business owners, loggers, sportsmen and conservationists, including Trout Unlimited.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT