Helena Independent Record OpEd: Act uses compromise to break the gridlock

Seeking a better way, groups representing the timber industry and recreational interests developed the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership five years ago, staking out common ground. Through the help of Sen. Jon Tester, their initial proposal became part of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA), an effort to break the gridlock surrounding these issues on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and portions of the Lolo and Kootenai national forests.

More than 20 years ago, many of the same individuals and groups participated in a process that resulted in the Deer Lodge Settlement agreement facilitating the withdrawal of lawsuits against the Deer Lodge Forest Plan and allowed the Forest Service to move from gridlock to management. These groups have a history of resolution, not obstruction.

FJRA proposes to protect our way of life and our legacy of managing our land wisely while creating jobs in our forests and protecting resources. Montanans have participated in dozens of public meetings, hundreds of individual meetings and offered thousands of comments that have been used to build understanding and provide constructive changes. The result has been broad support for FJRA from conservation and recreation interests, timber companies, local communities, and economic-development groups. Critics who oppose compromise have sniped at a process that has mainstream Montanans working for resolution.

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