by Kate Whittle
When reading Alex Sakariassen's article (see "Aisle crossing," June 27), it seemed as though the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act are in limbo due to a lack of support by people in Montana. This is not the case. The bills are supported by a majority of Montanans—we know what is best for our public lands. The problem in seeing them passed lies in Washington, where a cooperative bill and bipartisan support are difficult to find in action. If Congressman Daines is able to use the support of his state to see these bills through, we would all benefit from the economic and recreational enhancements.
While opposition to these bills is a concern in Washington, it is not in our home state. Daines has seen this support after he backed the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, when we were impressed by his ability to join with bipartisan forces to act on behalf of his constituents. Congressman Daines is an avid outdoorsman himself; he backpacks and bags peaks, and like the rest of us, he understands the need for industry in our state. His family homesteaded on the Rocky Mountain Front. Daines knows where we are coming from in our hope to pass the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to support the timber industry and create recreation areas and wilderness for future generations.
When Montanans reached across the "aisles" between different interest groups to create the legislation that is the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, they shook hands on a Western ideal. The ideal that our public lands can and will be managed for a variety of uses: to benefit the economy and future generations, and uphold the unique beauty of the Big Sky country we live in. By creating this legislation, we made it clear that we are tired of fighting each other in expensive litigation that may never allocate land for timber management, wilderness or motorized and non-motorized recreation. When no one is able to enjoy our public lands, we all lose. That is why the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is supported by 70 percent of Montanans. Now, we'd like to see the same movement by our elected leaders in Washington. Join together and show us that you believe in our way of life, and you are working for the best interest of everyone.