Senator Jon Tester says progress on his popular Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is an example of the responsible, bipartisan cooperation that Washington, D.C., needs more of.
Tester's landmark proposal, which is supported by Montanans across the political spectrum, creates jobs by requiring the logging and restoration of at least 100,000 acres of timber in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests. The bill, which also creates permanent recreation areas and protects hunting and fishing habitat, will be considered by the Senate after November's election.
At a rally in Missoula, Tester said that this summer's record-setting wildfires and persistent smoke make passage of his bill more urgent than ever.
"We can't wait any longer," Tester said. "We need to responsibly manage our forests, and living here in Missoula you folks know exactly what I'm talking about. You see the effects and smell the effects of doing nothing."
Despite Tester's bipartisan bill receiving widespread support from mill owners and fire chiefs to conservationists, the House of Representatives last year stood in the way of Montana jobs.
In light of the millions of acres Montana lost this summer to wildfire and beetle kill, Congress needs to put politics aside and recognize the urgency of the moment, Tester said.
"This bill is a product of Montanans working together responsibly to do what's best for Montana and to create jobs, and Congress could learn a lesson from the way Montanans found this solution," Tester said.
Tester has always kept the latest version of his bill on his website at tester.senate.gov/forest.