In 1963, I came to Missoula from an area in west central Wisconsin that once had one of the country’s largest white pine forests that was cut with abandon. The thinking was the supply was inexhaustible. Today the only knowledge I have of Wisconsin’s timber industry is from history books.
After attending the University of Montana and studying forestry practices, I became a timber cruiser at the Kootenai National Forest Sylvanite Ranger Station in the Yaak. The 13-mile trek in was a one-lane gravel road with turnouts. The Yaak had trees bigger in diameter and taller than I had ever seen with seven or eight 16-foot logs. Roads were scarce. With permission from the Canadian government to cut out the old logging road into Fernie, Canada, we would drive 10 miles east in Canada and then walk back across the border to get to the area we were preparing for a timber sale.
Look at it now, roaded and clear cut. Just like Wisconsin, this beautiful forested area has been decimated. This is the reason we need Sen. Jon Tester’s forest bill to pass now. It reaches a compromise that protects the different interests in Montana and will preserve our forests for future generations. The time for passage of this bill is now.