Billings Gazette: Guest opinion: Tester’s forest jobs bill would boost state industry

As timber mill owners and managers in Montana, we’re disappointed that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, a bill to create jobs for loggers and mill workers, was prevented from passing in Congress last week. Hundreds of workers in our mills, along with hundreds of independent contractors and vendors we work with, all supporting hundreds of families and whole communities throughout Western Montana, are disappointed by congressional inaction on this bill.

For the last five years, we’ve been working closely with people who don’t always agree with us. Together, we’ve developed a new way to approach forest management that creates jobs by requiring more work to get done in the woods while also protecting the places that we all love to hunt and fish.

We’re not going to give up. The gridlock in the forests — not to mention Congress — bolsters our belief that Montanans have far more to gain by focusing on our agreements instead of our differences.

Obviously, not everyone agrees even on that point, including our lone voice in the House of Representatives, Denny Rehberg. But the majority of Montanans do agree. Polls have shown strong public support for this bill, and as Montanans push harder in the months ahead for forest jobs, recreation opportunities and better stewardship overall, we want our congressman to start pulling on our behalf.

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