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A Couple of Tweaks Brings Victory for "Forest Jobs" Bill

PHOTO:The U.S. Senate floor is the next stop for the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act from Montana Senator Jon Tester. Photo courtesy of USDA
PHOTO:The U.S. Senate floor is the next stop for the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act from Montana Senator Jon Tester. Photo courtesy of USDA
December 20, 2013

SEELEY LAKE, Mont. – A few more tweaks and a big success for the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and its sponsor, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

The bill cleared a Senate committee this week and is headed for the Senate floor.

It requires more logging and forest restoration, along with wilderness and recreation designations.

Loren Rose at Pyramid Mountain Lumber says the bill was designed by a coalition of members that didn't used to agree on anything, but have stuck together for seven years in crafting the bill.

"Whether you need logs to run a sawmill, or whether you're trying to create clean water for cutthroat or habitat for elk,” he says, “I mean, everybody has a little different take on why you want to do something, but there's a real broad agreement that things need to change."

Even with broad support from diverse interests, not everyone is happy with the bill. There are critics who see too much logging, and others who see too many restrictions on motorized recreation.

Barb Cestero, the Montana director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, says the newest version of the bill contains provisions to address local concerns, such as modifying the wilderness boundaries in one area because of ranching issues.

"This bill has always been about people working together to build a better vision for our public lands, and that type of work never stops."

Tester expects the bill to make it to the Senate floor next year, after the holiday recess.



Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT