Sending a new congressman to Washington, D.C., is like sending a child off to school; you hope he doesn't fall in with the wrong crowd. Unfortunately, when it comes to national forests, Rep. Steve Daines has fallen in with the crowd that puts politics before people.
Daines joined a move to quash a series of Montana-made pilot projects, aimed at improving national forest management. These pilot projects are the result of thousands of hours invested by folks from timber, hunters and anglers, wilderness advocates and other Montana citizens.
Montanans share a deep affection for our national forests. These lands support jobs, clean water and our way of life. Meanwhile, Montanans are frustrated with forest management gridlock. We see dead trees and threatened watersheds. In many areas we have joined hands to find local solutions.
As a private citizen and retired Forest Service ranger, I've invested long hours in collaborative efforts to improve forest management. With Montanans solving Montana problems, we have the best chance to break the gridlock and see change on the ground. That is why I was frustrated to see Daine's name on a letter to the Speaker of the House. The letter asked the Speaker to quash any state by state bills aimed at addressing the gridlock on our national forests. Instead they demand a one-size-fits-all national fix.
Montanans' voices and involvement should help decide what is best for our forests not Washington politics.
Daines speaks of putting Montana first. But by putting his name on that obstructionist letter, the congressman fails to live up to his campaign promises.