If there is one common ground all Montanans share it is that everyone values wilderness for various reasons. As an avid recreator, I also appreciate the magnificence that is wilderness. I have traveled extensively throughout the West and have noticed the devastating effects that development and mismanagment can have on national forests. Therefore, I realize there is far too much at stake if Montana’s national forests remain unregulated. Those in opposition to Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act believe it falls short of achieving proper management, and some in favor admit they wish it managed some areas differently. Nevertheless, this bill accomplishes much more than the alternative of the past 27 years—that of the status quo of mismanagement.
The prospect that areas will be designated as wilderness preservation for wildlife, that folks who are accustomed to recreating in certain areas can rely on continuing to do so, and that others concerned about impending beetle kill spread or in dire need of employment will find some relief inspires me. I only hope this bill will pass out of committee and see its day on the House floor. It deserves a chance to prove its worth to all Montanans.