Posted: May 2, 2013 4:42 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: May 3, 2013 8:40 AM
HELENA - U.S. Representative Steve Daines (R-MT) says that U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is on the right track with his plan to mandate logging on federal land in Montana.
At an event in Helena on Thursday, Daines told the Montana Television Network he could possibly carry Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in the House. He says he still needs to hear from more Montanans.
As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, Daines says environmental groups keep blocking attempts to log on federal land. He believes Montanans need to be allowed to harvest timber off federal land.
"Jon is going down the right path in terms of trying to find ways to get the timber harvest back on track. We used to have 30 sawmills in this state, we are down to seven," Daines explained. "I toured a sawmill in Livingston recently and their biggest issue is they can't get enough logs. The logs they were cutting that day were logs that were burned in the Pine Creek fire last summer cause they got it off private property."
Daines says he is also looking at a more permanent solution which would give the state authority to manage federal forests, but those discussions are still being worked out.
Tester spokeswoman Andrea Helling says Tester meets with Daines regularly and he looks forward to working with him on the issue.
"Jon's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act came about through Montanans working together. Steve's willingness to work with Jon is one more example of the collaborative process driving a bill that will create jobs, improve Montana's forests, increase recreational use, and set aside land for future generations," Helling said.
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act would mandate logging on 100,000 acres in the Beaverhead, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests. It would also designate more than 660,000 acres as wilderness.
Daines' predecessor, Denny Rehberg (R), was a vocal opponent of the bill because of the wilderness designation component. He believed it would lock up land making it harder to gain public access.