Congressman forgets he obstructed bipartisan proposal to cut wildfire risk
BILLINGS, Mont. – Congressman Dennis Rehberg this week called for “a reasonable balance” to cut wildfire risk and improve forest management—after years of standing in the way of a bipartisan proposal to do just that.
Montana farmer Jon Tester introduced the landmark Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in 2009. The popular, bipartisan proposal gives the U.S. Forest Service the tools needed to better manage Montana’s forestland. Tester’s bill—agreed on by loggers, sportsmen, conservationists and recreation enthusiasts—will create jobs by requiring logging and forest restoration.
Tester’s bill has been hailed as a visionary solution to cut the risk of wildfire while supplying Montana’s timber mills with the supply needed to stay in business and minimizing the risk of stifling lawsuits. The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act resolves decades of disagreement between conservationists and loggers by mandating timber harvest near communities and protecting some of Montana’s prized backcountry
Rehberg opposes the bipartisan Forest Jobs and Reaction Act simply because Tester authored it. Last year, Rehberg “worked to keep it” from becoming law.
But this week, during very brief remarks at a fire information meeting in Colstrip, Mont., Rehberg called for a proposal to “let us actively manage our forests so we don’t create this fire danger.”
“We have that ability,” Rehberg said. “And there are laws in place, and there are regulations in the way, that are keeping us from doing that. And there are some of us that want to change that, but we run up against the opposition each and every time.”
“If Congressman Dennis Rehberg is saying we need better forest management, he should stop standing in the way of Jon Tester’s Montana-based solution so people who really care about this issue can start addressing the problem,” said Alexandra Fetissoff, a spokeswoman for Montanans for Tester. “Unfortunately for Montana, Congressman Rehberg isn’t looking out for us.”