During his recent visit to Montana, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack praised Sen. Jon Tester’s forest bill and expressed his support for the legislation as a pilot project (see “etc.,” March 11, 2010). As a supporter of the bill I’m glad to see these two decision-makers reach common ground.
The idea of Tester’s bill as a pilot project makes a lot of sense to me. The bill is groundbreaking because it advances new ideas for timber harvest and restoration. I think they’re good ideas, but they’re also new ideas and new ideas do require some trust. The bill has a clear and finite time frame and it applies to well-defined forest areas here in Montana. There is also built-in monitoring and assessment, necessary features of any smart experiment. Change takes courage because we don’t know what it’s going to look like when the dust settles.
Thanks to Secretary Vilsack for coming to Montana and honoring our senator’s vision for conservation and restoration on public lands.