Archive for June, 2010

Tester’s forest bill, transparency & the legislative process

June 5, 2010

By John S. Adams, Great Falls Tribune Capitol Bureau Chief
http://mtlowdown.blogspot.com/2010/06/testers-forest-bill-transparency-and.html

Coalition Calls on Senator Tester to Release New Draft of FJRA for Public Review and Input

June 5, 2010

Missoula, MT (June 3, 2010) – Today, members of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign called on Senator Tester to make public a new “Discussion Draft” version of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA) that was put together by the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and given to Senator Tester last month.

“Our coalition calls on Senator Tester to share with all Montanans the Committee’s draft rewrite of his bill,” stated Matthew Koehler of the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign. “Since the Committee’s draft includes significant new language, we believe it’s in the best interest of all Montanans and Americans for Senator Tester to make a copy of the Committee’s draft available for public review and input.  This step will ensure transparency and give all members of the public an equal opportunity to review the new draft language.”

The Committee’s new draft drops the controversial mandated logging levels on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai National Forests and drops Senator Tester’s 12-month timeline for environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, which the head of the Forest Service called “flawed and are legally vulnerable” during last December’s Senate hearing.

The Committee’s new draft also adds language requiring that any project carried out under the bill must fully maintain old growth forests and retain large trees, while focus any hazardous fuel reduction efforts on small diameter trees.

The Committee’s draft drops several of the controversial Wilderness provisions, including those allowing helicopter landings for military training exercises and herding livestock with ATVs in Wilderness, but other provisions that compromise the integrity of the proposed Wildernesses remain in the new draft.