As a college student at the University of Montana who has spent my whole life hiking, climbing and exploring the secluded wilderness of Montana, Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is an essential stepping-stone toward protecting this freedom. With the FJRA’s most recent inclusion in the Senate’s Interior Department appropriations bill, we have a chance to move forward.
This legislation would protect around 700,000 acres of Montana’s backcountry as wilderness. Not only this, but it would allocate money toward improving damaged streams and wildlife habitat. Also, recreation and protection areas will permanently guarantee the use of non-motorized mountain bikes.
Designating many wilderness study areas as pure wilderness areas, allowing them lasting protection from development and machinery during a time when motorized use is becoming more and more common, would bolster conservation efforts. National environmental laws that are already in place would remain untouched, and logging will not take place on inventoried roadless lands in the backcountry.
For those of us who live in Montana and enjoy the countless activities available through our amazing landscape, Tester’s bill provides a way to ensure that Montana’s wilderness is afforded the protection it needs.