I’ve noticed an even higher than usual level of traffic on Sen. Jon Tester’s forest bill lately. I find it encouraging because this type of dialogue is a necessary part of any collaborative process, and it’s a good sign that we have a bill that’s well worth talking about.
Yet, I can’t help but notice a stark contrast between those who stand in opposition to this bill and those who support it. The critics are taking it more personally, but I suppose those at the radical end of any compromise often feel wronged. Folks in the middle though, understand that it is unreasonable to expect this bill to have only wilderness provisions in it, just as it is unreasonable to expect the bill to have only timber provisions in it. They’re willing to acknowledge imperfection and move forward.
They are backing Tester because he’s interested in getting past the division that defines our dialogue over public land management. That’s why Tester is maintaining an open process. This bill is still being amended and rewritten by Tester and by the subcommittee in Congress, and Tester is still open for further suggestions.
This bill is the product of conversations between people who were traditional enemies: loggers, off-road vehicle users and wilderness advocates. They’ve seen that arguing with one another and alienating one another was not working. They were ready to try a different approach.
I’d encourage those in the opposition to follow their example by taking part in the process productively, rather than complaining from the sidelines.