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Tester disowns forest bill changes

2010-06-10T00:00:00Z Tester disowns forest bill changesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 10, 2010 12:00 am  • 

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has dismissed a proposed rewrite of his forest bill as “dead on arrival,” and promised to publicly post his counteroffer that is expected next week.

Tester’s bill would create new wilderness in parts of Montana, while increasing logging requirements and establishing permanent recreation areas.

A Senate committee recently came up with its own version that does away with the logging and other mandates that are central to a deal crafted by a group of Montana loggers, environmentalists and others.

“People assume it’s mine, and it’s not because it does not have those components in there,” Tester said of the new draft. “It’s dead on arrival, as far as I am concerned.”

Tester promised to publicly post on the Internet his counteroffer expected next week, and will also post any other changes he proposes as a final version is negotiated by the Senate in the coming months.

The unusual step follows criticism from opponents who felt the Senate committee version should also have been widely released. Tester said he has nothing to do with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee proposal.

“If they are somebody else’s drafts, then they are somebody else’s and I will not be posting those online,” Tester said.

Tester said his counteroffer will make clear to fellow Democrats in Washington D.C. that he is serious about logging requirements and recreation areas. He will make certain allowances, though.

“They will be significant changes to the first bill, but it is not going to significantly change the timber or recreation components,” Tester said.

Tester said the Senate committee is going to have to realize that all the major parts of the plan need to remain intact, and there is no way they can turn it into just a wilderness bill.

“This is a Montana solution for a forest in Montana,” Tester said. “We don’t need a D.C. bill. We need a Montana bill.”

The Montana Wilderness Association, part of the group that helped craft the original idea, said the final bill has to include logging in order to keep the coalition together.

“I don’t think there is any doubt about this going forward,” said Jan Sensibaugh, MWA executive director. “We are committed to the bill and we are committed to the partnerships we formed through drafting the bill.”

Some environmentalists are attacking the plan for allowing so much logging and creating too little wilderness.

Matthew Koehler, an outspoken opponent, said he prefers the committee’s “discussion draft” and criticized Tester for not widely circulating it once the senator’s office got it.

“The point is that Sen. Tester has had a copy of the discussion draft for a few weeks and he has only shared it with the timber industry and political insiders,” Koehler said. “Requests for him to provide it to the public have been ignored.”

Tester said his bill tries to find the middle ground in contentious land battles and “frivolous lawsuits” that have gripped the state for decades. It creates more than 600,000 acres of wilderness, mostly in southwestern Montana’s Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and mandates roughly 100,000 acres of logging.

“There are folks out there that want this bill to die. Some are on the far right, some are on the far left,” Tester said. “We’re going to continue to fight to get this bill out of committee. We have our challenges out there, make no mistake about it.”

Tester said the process could stretch into next year.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. F-22
    Report Abuse
    F-22 - June 11, 2010 8:13 am
    Wheels and rails are what built this country.....and are what will keep it strong in the long run. Move to the Northwest Territory/Yukon and eat worms with the grizzlies and nuts with the squirrels if that is the lifestyle you like. As the weakest link in the food chain, God gave us brains, rather than brawn for sustanence and survival. We are yet a step above the beasts, and I prefer not to re-gress into the stone age as a caveman----nor will I feel guilt because I inhabit the earth and utilize its resources too.
  2. badshot
    Report Abuse
    badshot - June 10, 2010 5:10 pm
    I agree with Wildlifelvr and others. Use the wheels your creator gave you and maybe you'd get healthier and thinner.

    As for the Logging: Lack of Logging and Fighting Wildfires are a major direct cause of the Bark Beetle infestation. The Beetle's attack forests that are at end of life. The Tree's were designed to release their seeds after a burn. Large stands that haven't been burned or logged turn into whats called a dead forest, of which only a portion is used for wildlife security.

    The city folk (that includes Helena by the way) need to let the Biologists, Forest managers, and the people that live in and know the forest, due the right thing. The right thing is what works in the long run, not what feels good at the moment.
    Animals thrive on properly logged areas after a year or two.
    I love wilderness areas, but you either have to log them responsibly or not fight the fires if you want them to survive the way they were designed. Look at the Gates of Mountains Wilderness, most of it is all gone...
  3. enu_22
    Report Abuse
    enu_22 - June 10, 2010 2:57 pm
    Our forests should become defacto wilderness areas! Hike in or ride in on horseback; no motorized vehicles.
  4. Wildlifelvr
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    Wildlifelvr - June 10, 2010 1:32 pm
    I think it's a sad day when people only care about themselves. The forests should be protected. There are plenty of open roads for vehicles. There are plenty of snowmobile trails too. Some places like Hedges is closed to snowmobiles for the elk heards so hunters have something to eat come October. Also many motorized roads are closed due to people on their ATV's and dirt bikes driving OFF road and causing extensive damage to our forests. Maybe if people stopped destroying something so beautiful man can't make, the forest service wouldn't have to protect it as much.
    F-22 said: "It is a sad commentary, what has happened with forest management in the northwest, particularly Montana in the past 30+ or so years. Road closures, stricter regulations, obliteration of mining and logging operations on public and private lands---what has amounted to basicically a defacto wilderness agenda from the left, strangling common sense management practices. And now we have the pine beetle infestation. I think future management ought to include all uses for all peoples. Components of proper management should indlude a blend of adequate access(yes motorized), foot, horse, snowmobile, etc., logging, mining along with designated conservation areas/parks/trail systems. New proposed wilderness areas should be considered under the appropriate processes. Our forests should not become defacto wilderness areas! "

  5. GreenMachine84
    Report Abuse
    GreenMachine84 - June 10, 2010 12:29 pm
    yeatsy said: "Thank goodness the Senate is intervening in this bill! How can we have wilderness when we give 100,000 acres to the logging industry to rape and pillage. Wilderness needs to be wilderness in and of itself."

    Not all logging is raping and pillaging as you call it. Responsible logging in Montana is the reason we have wilderness to enjoy today. Responsible logging is so oftenly confused with clear cutting and deforestation. Responsible logging has always replanted the areas they've cut in and kept the undergrowth and brush under control to prevent fire danger. A recent issue that we have seen with the stop of logging is the rapid growth and spread of the pine beetle. If we intend to have any forest left we need to allow logging to push the pine beetle back and pray for a cold enough winter that would kill them off. The beetle is not native to this area so it needs to be controlled.

  6. sledmike
    Report Abuse
    sledmike - June 10, 2010 12:18 pm
    Mr. Tester had to know that he could not split the baby. On the other hand, groups like Mr. Koehler's had no intention of such. Start at the "Best Place" campaign website and do a little research on some of these supporters and then those subsequent groups' supporters. Quite the spiderweb. Some are laser beam, straight arrow environmentalists...some drag one foot along in their conviction to reduce our economy and our country by any means, green gangsterism if necessary...others I'm sure are in possession of spaceship boarding passes. No matter which group, they all proclaim their unwillingness to negotiate or even participate in any process or discussion short of their own complete and utter victory over evil forces as they define them. Zealots are as zealots do....and they are always convinced in their selfless righteousness and the evil that is our reluctance to accept their 'truth' wholesale as espoused by disciples of earth church.
  7. F-22
    Report Abuse
    F-22 - June 10, 2010 11:40 am
    It is a sad commentary, what has happened with forest management in the northwest, particularly Montana in the past 30+ or so years. Road closures, stricter regulations, obliteration of mining and logging operations on public and private lands---what has amounted to basicically a defacto wilderness agenda from the left, strangling common sense management practices. And now we have the pine beetle infestation. I think future management ought to include all uses for all peoples. Components of proper management should indlude a blend of adequate access(yes motorized), foot, horse, snowmobile, etc., logging, mining along with designated conservation areas/parks/trail systems. New proposed wilderness areas should be considered under the appropriate processes. Our forests should not become defacto wilderness areas!
  8. yeatsy
    Report Abuse
    yeatsy - June 10, 2010 8:52 am
    Thank goodness the Senate is intervening in this bill! How can we have wilderness when we give 100,000 acres to the logging industry to rape and pillage. Wilderness needs to be wilderness in and of itself.
  9. Matthew Koehler
    Report Abuse
    Matthew Koehler - June 10, 2010 8:42 am
    Links to the PDF copies of the discussion draft re-write of Senator Tester's FJRA are available at:
    http://mtlowdown.blogspot.com/2010/06/testers-forest-bill-transparency-and.html

    Tester's forest bill, transparency, and the legislative process
    By John S. Adams, Great Falls Tribune, Capitol Bureau Chief

    ----------------

    "New Draft of Tester Bill Put Together by Senate Committee"

    http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/new_draft_of_tester_bill_put_together_by_senate_committee/C41/L41/

    ----------

    For Release: June 3, 2010

    Coalition Calls on Senator Tester to Release New Draft of FJRA for Public Review and Input

    Missoula, MT – Today, members of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign called on Senator Tester to make public a new “Discussion Draft” version of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) that was put together by the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and given to Senator Tester last month.

    “Our coalition calls on Senator Tester to share with all Montanans the Committee’s draft rewrite of his bill,” stated Matthew Koehler of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign. “Since the Committee’s draft includes significant new language, we believe it’s in the best interest of all Montanans and Americans for Senator Tester to make a copy of the Committee’s draft available for public review and input. This step will ensure transparency and give all members of the public an equal opportunity to review the new draft language.”

    The Committee’s new draft drops the controversial mandated logging levels on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests and drops Senator Tester’s 12-month timeline for environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, which the head of the Forest Service called “flawed and are legally vulnerable” during last December’s Senate hearing.

    The Committee’s new draft also adds language requiring that any project carried out under the bill must fully maintain old growth forests and retain large trees, while focus any hazardous fuel reduction efforts on small diameter trees.

    The Committee’s draft drops several of the controversial Wilderness provisions, including those allowing helicopter landings for military training exercises and herding livestock with ATVs in Wilderness, but other provisions that compromise the integrity of the proposed Wildernesses remain in the new draft.

    The Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign (LBPWC) is a coalition dedicated to wildlands protection, Wilderness preservation and the sound long-term management of our federal public lands legacy. The coalition includes 5th generation Montanans, small-business owners, veterans, retired Forest Service supervisors and district rangers, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, outfitters and guides, scientists and community leaders.
  10. Therightchange
    Report Abuse
    Therightchange - June 10, 2010 4:10 am
    The lightweight junior Senator from Montana does not even have enough presence or power to put his own bill without amendments thru a committee. This is what you get when you vote for a incompetent like Tester.
  11. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - June 10, 2010 12:40 am
    Run chicken run, it was your plan to begin with.

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