As a restoration ecology student at the University of Montana, I’ve been following the statewide discussion over forest management issues very closely.
I was born and raised in Carson City, Nev., and I’ve been a wilderness enthusiast all my life. Since 1999, Nevada has successfully protected over three million acres of land as wilderness and national conservation areas. In the last 27 years, Montana has successfully protected exactly zero acres.
The reason Nevada has been so successful is because wilderness groups don’t work alone. They partner with other private interests and they work with local and federal decision makers to make sure they’re representing a set of management concerns that includes the concerns of local communities.
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is a bill that is being advanced with similar intentions. The groups backing it aren’t looking narrowly at singular management concerns. They’re looking at the whole forest and as a result they have the strong backing of two powerful senators—Sens. Baucus and Tester. It’s nice to see that you still get rewarded for playing well with others. I hope Montana soon joins Nevada and other states that are passing bills and protecting wild places.