I hunt and fish all over southwest Montana and know that public lands help Montana prosper economically. That's why I'm a long-time supporter of Sen. Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.
It's frustrating to watch the wheels of Congress grind painfully slowly, but I've been inspired by the hard work of the mill owners, sportsmen, conservationists and business people who found common ground and asked Congress to get the job done. They've persistently worked to make sure the bill works for Montana.
Congressman Daines' recent letter to Speaker Boehner, urging him to oppose any state-specific forest management bills passed by the Senate, is a slap in the face to Montanans. Why hasn't he engaged in good faith with Tester and supporters of the bill to make further refinements if he doesn't think it will work? Holding out for some sweeping top-down national forest reform will not solve the actual on-the-ground problems we see in Montana.
We need to move forward with better forest stewardship to reduce fire hazard near communities and restore fish and wildlife habitats. Congress needs to do the hard work Montanans know how to do — work together to solve problems.