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  • Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    A Positive Response

    FROM
    SENATOR JOHN TESTER
    Sometimes It Works
    photo courtesy of Jon Tester
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    .. We hope all those folks in Montana appreciate this response. This is as strong of a position paper as you will see in this day and age.

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    Dear _________ ,
    Thank you for contacting me about proposals to transfer federal lands to the State of Montana.  I believe that transferring our public lands will be harmful to our state's economy and our outdoor heritage.
    Public lands are a cornerstone of Montana's way of life.  Outdoor recreation alone contributes $6 billion to our state's economy, and our ranchers and agriculture producers contribute billions more.  These lands are critical to balancing Montana's budget.
    While Montana is strong fiscal shape today, the state can't afford to manage an additional 30 million acres of land indefinitely.  The federal government spends more than $400 million a year managing this land.  In addition these federal lands bring in  $50 million to Montana counties in the form of Payments in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools.  And federal wildfire fighting costs routinely top out in the hundreds of millions.  Our state just doesn't have the resources to provide that level of support.
    To fund that kind of management, Montana likely would have to sell off some public lands to pay to manage the rest.  And those folks that could afford to buy those lands wouldn't be regular Montanans, they would be wealthy out-of-state interests who would quickly put up "No Trespassing" signs on these lands.
     Federal management of these lands hasn't always been perfect, and there are plenty of areas for improvement.  That's why I worked with Montanans from all walks of life for years to craft my Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.  This bill protects critical wildlife habitat, requires the Forest Service to harvest 100,000 acres of pine-beetle infested timber, and guarantees access to public lands for recreation.  And it is why I supported a new Farm Bill that allows for expedited timber harvest on Forest Service land where there is strong on-the-ground support.
    As we look to improve forest management, we need to make sure all Montanans have a seat at the table.  I will keep your views in mind as I continue fighting for public land management that works for Montanans.  Please don't hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.

    Sincerely,

    Jon Tester
    United States Senator
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    Comfort Food:   Mac 'n' Cheese 'n' Spam