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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Jul 24 2015

Striking a Balanced Approach to Our National Forests

Sen. Tester urges protection of our wildlands in recent Senate letter

Featured, Partners in Conservation

Montanans know that what makes Big Sky Country special is our abundance of natural resources. Our wildlife habitat, our stunning mountain scenery, and our cold, clean water make Montana one of the best places in the world to live, work, and play. What also sets the Treasure State apart from others is our ability to come together to find collaborative solutions to Montana’s public land management problems in a way that advances diverse interests rather than pitting stakeholders against each other.

Recently, five U.S. Senators, including Sen. Jon Tester, sent a letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Maria Cantwell, the chairwoman and ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The letter stated that any improvements to forest management must address three issues in order to gain bipartisan support and succeed as legislation:

  1. More active forest management, including restoration
  2. Increased recreational opportunities
  3. The protection of our backcountry

The letter goes on to say that those of us who live, work, and play in or near our national forests deserve “a more locally-tailored approach to land management.”

We couldn’t agree more.

For years, Montana Wilderness Association has advocated for a common-sense approach to forest policy that both improves national forest management and protects the wild places that set Montana apart from other states. The recent vehicle for that approach has been the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

In January, MWA and 42 others organizations, businesses, and individuals sent a letter to Montana’s entire Congressional delegation outlining our recommendations for forest management, recommendations based on decades of working neighbor to neighbor.

Judging by the letter he and his colleagues sent to Sens. Murkowski and Cantwell, it’s apparent that Sen. Tester has taken Montanans’ recommendations to heart. The five senators state in the letter that any forest management proposal should:

  • Advance collaboratively-developed National Forest projects that increase the pace and scale of forest and watershed restoration;
  • Adopt a landscape-scale approach to managing and conserving forests, including conservation designations ranging from Wild and Scenic Rivers to Wilderness;
  • Safeguard the intent of bedrock environmental laws; and
  • Ensure opportunities for public involvement in forest management.

You can read the letter here.

Join us in thanking Sen. Tester for advancing common-sense solutions for managing our forests, solutions that embrace protection of our wildlands and wild rivers. And please ask Sen. Daines and Rep. Zinke to take a similarly balanced approach, one that includes protecting our wild places along with restoring healthy forests across the state.

Senator Jon Tester: (202) 224- 2644
Senator Steve Daines: (202) 224-2651
Congressman Ryan Zinke: (202) 225-3211

- John Todd, acting state program director