Independent Record: Constructive collaboration

In her recent column, Julie Altemus, the head of the Montana Wood Products Association, raises good points about the need for a “better forest climate” (Your Turn June 29). We will not save jobs for mill workers and woods workers, or the workers their jobs support, if we play the game of divide-and-conquer. While we’ve tolerated the us vs. them, timber vs. wilderness fights, (and too often only heard the loudest, most extreme voices on every side) there has been no progress in decades for either the Montana timber industry or wilderness advocates.

We know what works to end the fight. Get constructive people to sit down together, learn about each other’s concerns and then work together for a common goal. It happens. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, now awaiting action in the United States Senate, reflects the outcome of just the kind of constructive collaboration that can make progress for all Montanans. Yes, we can expect a few voices to still attack this legislation, but a majority of Montanans see it as a win-win solution. So, for jobs, for great recreational opportunities, for ourselves and kids, let’s back Sen. Tester as he pushes to get this proposal enacted into law.

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