Tester: “widespread bi-partisan support” for forest bill

I received an e-mail this morning from Sen. Jon Tester’s office regarding the “widespread, bipartisan support for Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.”

Click on the image below or here to see the full “Who supports the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act?” file included in the e-mail. 
Tester's support oppose 
UPDATE (12-14-10, 4:40 p.m.): I just received a modified version of the chart above from Mike Garrity at the Alliance for the Wild Rockies [the source of the document is Denny Rehberg’s office] listing quite a few more opponents. Clink on the image below to see higher-resolution image:

UPDATE (12-15-10, 2:30 p.m.): just received another update to this chart:

supporter and opponents 1

First off, it’s worth pointing out that the bill that was attached to the Senate Omnibus Appropriations Act, now titled the “Forest Jobs and Restoration Initiative,” is not the same bill as the one Tester introduced in July 2009, then called the “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.” As I posted yesterday, the final version included in the omnibus bill contains a number of significant changes from the original bill introduced in 2009. You can read about those changes in this post

You can view the entire Senate omnibus bill with links to Tester FJRI in an easy-to-use DocumentCloud viewer here.

The e-mail also referenced a an Aug. 2009 poll by Harstad Research  that found “73% of surveyed Montanans support FJRA based on bill’s description.”

Here’s the poll question Harstad Research asked participants of that poll:

Q 7. Let me briefly describe the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which would do the following:

  • Create jobs in Montana by directing the Forest Service to use light-on-the-land logging and forest restoration projects aimed at improving forest health and reducing forest fire risk;
  • Employ forest stewardship contractors to restore Montana’s damaged streams, forest roads, campgrounds and trails;
  • Guarantee that motorized vehicles will have access to designated recreation areas;
  • Protect Montana’s wildlife habitats and watersheds by designating certain places as Wilderness areas in the Beaverhead Deer Lodge, Lolo and Kootenai National Forests.

Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act that I just described?
Results: Favor–73 percent; Oppose–15 percent; no answer–12 percent.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign is not a single organization, but a campaign that 16 conservation organization from Montana and 39 conservation organizations from around the nation signed-on to. You can see the complete list of groups associated with the LBPWC here.

Here’ are the Montana-based groups that signed the official Senate  testimony opposing Tester’s FJRA:

Alliance for the Wild Rockies (MT)
Big Wild Advocates (MT)
Buffalo Field Campaign (MT)
Central Montana Wildlands Association (MT)
Conservation Congress (MT)
Deerlodge Forest Defense Fund (MT)
Friends of the Bitterroot (MT)
Friends of the Rattlesnake (MT)
Friends of the Wild Swan (MT)
Montana Rivers (MT)
Swan View Coalition (MT)
Western Montana Mycological Association (MT)
Western Watersheds Project (MT)
Wilderness Watch (MT)
WildWest Institute (MT)
Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation (MT)

Also notably absent from the list of opponents Tester sent out this morning is former Democratic Senatorial candidate Paul Richards, who accused Tester of breaking key campaign promise by introducing the FJRA. Richards dropped out of the Democratic Senate primary race in 2006 and threw his support behind Tester, who polls showed was deadlocked with state auditor John Morrison. According to Richards, Tester earned his endorsement by agreeing to certain terms, which Richards posted on his campaign website on May 31, 2006.

According to Richards, the top two terms of that agreement were:

1. Help stop the Iraq War, withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq, and work for peace.
2. Work to protect all of Montana’s remaining roadless wildlands.

As one Lowdown reader pointed out in an e-mail to me this morning, the Senate omnibus bill containing the Forest Jobs and Restoration Initiative “also contains another $158 BILLION for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…the wars Jon Tester vowed to not fund when he ran for office.”

On another note, I’ve received an e-mail from Wayne Hirst, a staunch supporter of the bill who appeared at the unveiling of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act at RY Timber in in Townsend last summer.  Hirst takes issue with criticisms leveled by Matthew Koehler of the LBPWC and Mike Garrity of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies:

   As the person on the “timber” portion of Testor’s bill here on the Kootenai, I must point out some facts that Matt Koehler and Mike Garrity seem to avoid, or outright tell falsehoods about:

   1.  There in NO mandated logging in the bill.  The word “logging” is not there.  The bill mandates “treatment” of these acres, and I have personally discussed this with local USFS people as to just what kind of treatments they will do, or envision.  Logging is one “treatment” for sure. But there are many other “treatments” as well, (now, 1″ brush, as well as needles even are considered “merchantable” and fit in the bill) and the bill defines “treatment” as just using a “tool”.   Now, since that definition was simplified to using a “tool”, there will be court arguments over just what is a “tool” I am sure.

   2. There is no “allowing” motorized use in IRA’s in this bill.   I don’t know about the Beaverhead, although we were just told Monday nite that there is none of this allowed on the Beaverhead, but here on the Kootenai, it has always been clear, due to Judge Molloy’s rulings, that nothing can ever be done in IRA’s, as they must be managed as wilderness. Any statement that motorized use in IRA’s can be done on the Kootenai is just plain false.

  But, I never knew that Rehberg agrees with Mike Garrity and Matt Koehler.  Who would ever have thought that could occur?

UPDATE: Matthew Koehler responds at length to Hirst in the comments section of this post.

UPDATE: Congressman Denny Rehberg is holding an “Emergency Tele-Town Hall Meeting” to discuss Tester’s bill tonight. Click this link for more information.

UPDATE: Another opponent not on Tester’s list: Ruby Valley Stock Association. Montana Standard guest column here.

Again, I urge anyone with thoughts on this bill to e-mail me or post your comments in the comment section below. You can reach me at mtlowdown(at)gmail.com. I’ll continue to post comments as I receive them.