Missoulian: Tester: Congress could learn from supporters of defeated forest jobs bill

Congress could learn a lot from supporters of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., told a roomful of timber workers and environmentalists here Wednesday.

“The only folks who hate this bill are to the far right or the far left,” Tester told the people gathered at Pyramid Mountain Lumber Co. “Once we get this done, it puts a whole different model out there that can work in the forests. It can be replicated just about everywhere.”

Tester’s unusual wilderness and logging bill failed last week to remain part of the Senate version of the $1.2 trillion omnibus budget package. The bill combines a new timber management plan with provisions to create about 1 million acres of wilderness and recreation areas in Montana.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who is challenging Tester for his Senate seat in next year’s election, took credit for keeping the bill out of the omnibus legislation. He argued last week that the legislation guaranteed wilderness but didn’t guarantee jobs, saying “it’s not a fair deal for Montanans.”

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