(Matt K obviously thinks little of the wilderness bill that came out of Jon Tester's office. We've heard a lot of criticism from both sides against the bill, but we're still waiting for a response to the criticism and some positive advocacy for the bill's main points... - promoted by Jay Stevens)
Yesterday, Senator Jon Tester's office issued a press statement claiming his logging bill "picks up steam with more than 1,000 'citizen cosponsors.'" (http://tester.senate.gov/Newsroom/pr_091409_cosponsors.cfm)
Really? See http://missoulanews.bigskypres... and http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.1... and http://www.newwest.net/topic/a... and http://www.newwest.net/topic/a... .
Apparently, because .1% of Montanans have signed up as "citizen cosponsors" of Tester's Logging Bill that constitutes the bill really "picking up steam?"
Of course, one can safely assume that most of those 1,000 "citizen cosponsors" are associated in some way with the "Beaverhead Partners," (ie MT Wilderness Association, MT Trout Unlimited, National Wildfire Federation and five timber mills) who back in the winter of 2006 started a self-selective, exclusive process producing what now forms the meat of Tester's mandated logging bill.
Oh, and it's worth point out that Tester's bill, which was introduced in the Senate last July, currently has a whopping total of zero congressional co-sponsors.
Yep, it's sure "picking up steam." Apparently members of Congress, especially the Dems in control of both houses, aren't real keen on the idea of Congress mandating logging...or for the first time ever allowing military aircraft to land in Wilderness areas...or undoing the legacy of Montana Sen. Metcalf by releasing previously protected Wilderness Study Areas.
Also, this statement from Senator Tester is worth a closer look:
"Folks in Montana understand that our forest communities are in crisis, and the old ways of making decisions about our forests have failed," Tester said. "This bill is a made-in-Montana plan. It's a new way of moving forward to protect our communities from wildfire, put folks back to work in the woods, and preserve our hunting and fishing heritage for our kids and grandkids."
Well Senator Tester, at least the "old way of making decisions" was open and inclusive and certainly didn't purposefully exclude interested citizens or organizations, as the Beaverhead Partnership and the Blackfoot-Clearwater proposal certainly did.
At one point - not that long ago - the entire forest and wilderness movement would have rallied around these concepts of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. What's happened?
Also, if Senator Tester really wants to "put folks back to work in the woods" (anyone else sick of cheap cliche from politicians?) he should look at the Bitterroot National Forest, which sits right next to Beaverhead-Deerlodge.
Right now the Bitterroot National Forest has over 20,000 acres of logging/fuel reduction/thinning projects ready for implementation through the "old way of making decisions" coupled with an open and inclusive collaborative process.
And look, we didn't even need a law mandating the logging! But, of course, the timber industry isn't much interested in these projects because there is very little demand for lumber...something else which Tester's approach completely ignores. I guess it's more politically safe to just say, "Let's put folks back to work in the woods!"