The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act balances timber harvests with conservation of the most scenic and wild places in Montana. Intended to promote cooperation and collaboration in the management of national forests, it is the result of just that.
The bill already has the backing of timber interests from the Montana Wood Products Association to the Montana Logging Association, as well as local timber mills like Sun Mountain Lumber and RY Timber. It also has the backing of conservation groups, from Montana Trout Unlimited to the Montana Wilderness Association.
For seven years, these partners and many others have worked tirelessly to balance their interests and create more certainty for all. Rep. Denny Rehberg has been in office the entire time. Now, in the eleventh hour and in an election year, he is proposing massive changes that would replace certainties with contingencies. With so many Montanans in agreement, why would Rehberg not support a bill that accomplishes so much?
The idea that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act won’t create jobs is absurd. It requires the government to sign logging contracts for at least 7,000 acres in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai national forests every year. Most of the areas proposed as wilderness are already managed as wilderness, and these exceptional places will entice people to live, work and play in Montana for many generations.
Creating opportunities to responsibly harvest timber while ensuing that our most scenic and wild places remain vibrant is a step in the right direction, and one that I urge Rehberg to take with us.
Jason T. Brown