Tester's forest bill would be good for Montana

Billings Gazette
Tom Roy
Friday, January 13, 2012

Rep. Dennis Rehberg is touring the state, saying in one breath that government needs to get out of the way so small businesses can prosper -- and in the next breath that he intends to stand in the way of legislation Montana's community-based sawmills say would help them thrive.

Rehberg's opposition to the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act doesn't make sense -- at least not the way he explains it.

The FJRA was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester, and Rehberg is running against Tester in this coming November's election. Is that the real reason for Rehberg's opposition?

Montanans worked together, setting aside differences, to come up with this bill. This is a made-in-Montana solution that is about us, our forests and our future -- not partisan politics.

The FJRA promotes large-scale stewardship contracting that would put loggers to work in the accessible front-country. It would reinvest money from timber sales in forest restoration at the local level -- replacing fish-blocking culverts and improving recreation facilities.

People who oppose all logging or all protection of wilderness may oppose this bill, much as Rehberg does, but most Montanans aren't like that. None of us can have everything we want, but through compromise -- through FJRA -- we all gain a lot.

Tom Roy

Missoula

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