Monday, January 28, 2013

State resolution would snub Tester forest jobs bill

Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, Friday presented a resolution to the Montana Legislature opposing U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Bill. House Joint Resolution No. 8 would establish no law; if passed, it would simply be a statement of opposition to Tester’s bill. But it still compelled more than 40 Montanans to speak to the resolution during a committee hearing Friday. Tester’s bill, initially introduced in 2009, was born when three working groups approached him separately with the idea of creating wilderness in exchange for guaranteed timber harvest and a streamlining of regulatory approval for timber contracts.While some roadless or wilderness study areas would be converted into wilderness, Tester’s bill would also guarantee motorized recreation in other areas. Tom France, who opposed HJ 8, was part of the collaborative group that negotiated the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Plan. Two other groups worked through their differences on the Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. “We visited with (Sen. Max) Baucus and (Rep. Denny) Rehberg, but it was Tester who said, ‘I see a theme here,’ and threw us all together,” France said. “Saying no to (Tester’s) bill is saying no to collaboration.” The 18 opponents to White’s proposed resolution included wildlife advocates, hikers, hunters and those from the timber industry. The 26 proponents included Beaverhead and Madison County commissioners, geologists and mining officials, members of Citizens for Balanced Use and livestock owners, many of whom had grazing allotments in the proposed wilderness areas. White, a first term legislator, is an executive co-chairman of CBU...more

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