Most of the debate around the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act has focused on the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest. That’s understandable because it’s the largest forest in the lower 48 states. The forest’s 3.3 million acres include 16 mountain ranges. Just about everyone has a favorite place in that forest, so it’s not surprising that everyone seems to have an opinion on the bill.
What most people don’t know is that there are also 4,800 miles of road on the forest and the only legislation that proposes to do anything about them is Sen. Tester’s bill. The bill contains provisions requiring that timber and restoration projects reduce road densities to less than 1.5 miles of road per square mile. That’s a very high standard that reflects the input of conservation groups and sportsmen groups in the development of this legislation.
Probably more than any other forest in Montana, the Beaverhead Deerlodge is a fisherman’s paradise. Tester’s bill wouldn’t just keep it that way, it would make it better by removing old roads and improving fisheries as a result.