By Ray Shaw
I am writing in regards to Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which is nothing more than a Wilderness Bill and more government control – 600,000 acres to be exact, how much wilderness is enough? Montana people that are engaged in everyday life of keeping their businesses going whether they be main street Montana, ranching, recreation, hunting, fishing, etc. were for the most part left out of putting this bill together. In other words the backroom deals went on without us. Why on earth do we have to give the environmental and special interest groups involved in this bill all this wilderness just to put people back to work?
We all know that our forests need cleaning up now to help prevent wildfires and to prevent the loss of our valuable timber resource. We must protect recreation, fishing, hunting, cattle grazing, timber harvest and other multiple uses. Believe it or not we do believe in clean air, clean water, etc. We all want nothing more than to put our timber industry back to work. The sorry thing is that the people supporting this bill will be the first people lined up to stop any logging. Isn’t that sad. Most of these environmental and special interest groups could care less about Montanans and what we are about. As we all know Senator Tester receives more lobbyist money than any other senator or congressman in Washington D.C. All this bill ever was is a payback to these groups. The real people this bill effects were never brought to the table. For instance at a public meeting held in Dillon, which was nothing of the kind, Senator Tester did not face the audience and when done went out the backdoor. Do you call that a public meeting? Left out again.
Many livestock producers in this area depend on public grazing. Many livestock people would end up selling out, either going somewhere else or giving up the cattle business altogether. The cattle industry helps support our schools, hospitals, and small town businesses. Do you get the point?
The Snowcrest Mountains are summer grazing for many of these ranchers. These mountains do not fit the criteria for wilderness to start with. This fall, a group of volunteers and people who run cattle on these permits, with the permission of the Forest Service, spent a whole day spraying noxious weeds on a small part of these permits. This is another reason for not turning the Snowcrests into wilderness. Left unchecked the weed problem will get completely out of control destroying both habitat and water quality. Why isn’t the Forest Service taking care of the weed problem? Is it lack of money or not caring? Hunters, horseman, fisherman, hikers all enjoy the Snowcrests the way they are, why do we need to give in to these environmental and special interest groups? Of course it’s a payoff, and more government control, ya think? This wilderness bill will have a negative impact on all Montanans. Clean and healthy forests plus the jobs that help us get there helps all of Montana. We all must remember that if something is designated wilderness it is wilderness forever and cannot be changed. Enough is enough.
Many people are accusing Congressman Rehberg for the failure of this bill to pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I have said before, this is nothing but a payback to environmental and special interest groups that fill Senator Tester’s pockets. A common sense approach is needed to make all this work and Senator Tester’s bill certainly does not do that. Montanans do not like being left out or pushed aside. Let’s not let politics, environmental and special interest groups dictate what is good and right for all Montanans. We the people should certainly be able to sit down and make this work with a common sense approach.