Tag Archives: Jon Tester

‘Our land, our legacy’ campaign launches

Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area - photo by Sally Carlson
Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area – photo by Sally Carlson

A message from our friends at the Montana Wilderness Association…

On Monday morning, February 5, we helped launch the campaign for our Our Land, Our Legacy – a diverse group of Montanans from across the state who have come together to celebrate and defend Montana’s 44 wilderness study areas (WSAs), which comprise more than 1 million acres of Montana’s wildest, most pristine public lands.

Five of our wilderness study areas, a half-million acres in all, are under attack by Senator Steve Daines, who introduced a bill in December (S. 2206) that would open these areas to oil and gas development and destructive off-road vehicle use.

Each of the folks featured in Our Land, Our Legacy has a special relationship to one or more of the WSAs and can speak on behalf of these places like few others. We’re proud to have them as our partners in fighting tooth and nail for Montana’s wildest, most pristine public lands.

The launch of Our Land, Our Legacy drew a wave of media, locally and nationally, from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle to the Ravalli Republic to U.S News & World Report. On Tuesday, Our Land, Our Legacy advertisements opposing Sen. Daines’ bill appeared in newspapers across the state.

Then on Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (SENR) held a hearing on the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, which would add 80,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Mission Mountains Wilderness Areas. With support from a spectrum of interests, from timber to outdoor recreation to conservation, this proposal is truly the product of grassroots collaboration happening in Montana, and it shows in the 74 percent approval it gets from Montanans. We couldn’t be more grateful to Senator Jon Tester for championing this bill.

The grassroots, bipartisan roots of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act stands in stark contrast to the other Montana public lands bill that got a hearing in the SENR on Wednesday – Sen. Daines’ WSA bill. In the hearing, Sen. Daines claimed he had the support of Montana’s communities for this top-down, one-size-fits-all bill.

Only a few hours later at a Ravalli County Commission meeting in Hamilton, Montana, MWA members proved Sen. Daines wrong.

Oh so wrong.

Thanks to the mobilizing efforts of our staff and volunteers, around 250 people showed up to the open meeting, held to address a letter the commission sent to Senator Daines in support of stripping protection from two of the WSAs in the bill – Sapphire and Blue Joint, which mostly lie in Ravalli County.

A staggering 153 people signed into the county meeting as opposed to Senator Daines’ bill, only 41 in support. Over the course of the next few hours, 52 people testified against the bill, 20 in favor. Moreover, 78 people sent the commission emails opposing the bill, compared to 20 in favor.

Read more about the meeting.

Please take a moment to visit the Our Land, Our Legacy website. Be sure to watch the video featuring some of the Our Land, Our Legacy spokespeople, and then sign the letter asking Montana’s congressional delegation to take a more balanced and inclusive approach to Montana’s WSAs.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, let the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee know that you oppose Sen. Daines’ bill, S. 2206. You can email the committee at fortherecord@energy.senate.gov.

 

Tester bill wants ban on mining near Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park sign at the North Entrance - Jim Peaco, NPS, October 1992
Yellowstone National Park sign at the North Entrance

Sen. Jon Tester wants to firm up the ban on mining leases on public lands near Yellowstone National Park . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has introduced legislation to permanently ban new mining in an area of Montana just outside Yellowstone National Park.

The Montana Democrat says responsible natural resource development is an important part of Montana’s economy but the doorstep of Yellowstone is one place that should be protected.

Tester’s proposal would withdraw federal mineral rights on some 30,000 acres of public land in the Custer Gallatin National Forest just north of Yellowstone.

Read more . . .

Proposed Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act draws critics, supporters

The Swan Range - Lee Boman
The Swan Range – Lee Boman

The Missoulian’s Rob Chaney posted a good overview of the issues and debates surrounding Senator Jon Tester’s new wilderness bill, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The article includes links to supporting documents . . .

A week after Sen. Jon Tester released his Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act, some wilderness advocates question what it might really do.

Now designated as S. 507, the bill resurrects a portion of Tester’s 8-year-old Forest Jobs and Recreation Act affecting the southwest corner of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. That bill ran into opposition from some environmentalists and U.S. Forest Service officials who objected to the way it mandated commercial work in the forests.

The new bill has raised eyebrows for the compromises it’s made with mountain biking groups.

Read more . . .

U.S. Interior secretary touts public lands, funding in Montana

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was at Hauser Lake near Helena last Tuesday, talking about public lands and funding. Kudos to Debo Powers for spotting this one . . .

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke to a crowd of public land employees and conservationists at Hauser Lake northeast of here Tuesday to promote public land and full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, raise awareness about the outdoors economy and unveil new funding for youth in conservation.

Speaking to the media afterward, she commented on the recent takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, the cancellation of an oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area earlier this year and her decision not to visit coal-dependent communities in southeastern Montana.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who traveled with Jewell, said Devil’s Elbow at Hauser Lake, a Bureau of Land Management campground, was a befitting place for the discussion because it has benefited from LWCF money in the past.

Read more . . .

Forest Service backs off (for now) on reductions in Montana trail maintenance funding

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker
Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

Read more . . .

Also read: Forest Service backs off planned cuts in trail maintenance in Montana (Missoulian)

Daines, Tester criticize wildfire and trail funding

Chinook Helicopters on Marston Fire, Aug 19, 2015
Chinook Helicopters on Marston Fire, Aug 19, 2015

Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are not happy about the state of Forest Service funding for fighting wildfires and maintaining trails . . .

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the looming wildfire season, Montana’s senators are calling for reforms to the agency’s forest and trail management.

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on the agency’s $4.8 billion budget request for the next fiscal year.

Tester and Daines criticized Tidwell for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency has revised its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, which encompasses all of Montana and has 28,000 miles of federally managed trails, the agency plans to reduce appropriations by 30 percent over the next three years. There is an estimated $25 million in deferred trail maintenance in Region One, according to a Forest Service report.

Read more . . .

The rise of the conservative conservationist

Tristan Scott over at the Flathead Beacon has a long, very interesting article discussing the conservation movement on the right side of the political spectrum. . .

It’s late August in Montana and the North Fork of the Flathead River is running low and slow, snaking through a chalky corridor of wildfire smoke, its steep banks inscribed with the tracks of deer and grizzly bears, wallpapered with a mix of blackened snags and young lodgepole pine, and scored with clusters of radiant fireweed.

The smoke blotting the sky overhead hangs in contrast against the transparency of the water below, magnifying the burnished bottom-stones and the shimmering flashes of bull trout, rainbows and cutties.

Somewhere downstream from the Glacier Rim river access, about 10 miles north of Columbia Falls, a ClackaCraft drift boat cuts through the glassy surface, which longtime fly-fishing guide and oarsman Irv Heitz navigates from his perch in the middle of the boat, rowing and setting his clients up on fish. At the bow, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, dressed in zip-off Columbia cargo pants and a T-shirt, leans against the boat’s leg bracket, casting a dry fly at the tail of a riffle that’s usually filthy with trout.

Read more . . .

Celebrating Glacier National Park’s North Fork – Aug 24

From our friends at the National Parks Conservation Association . . .

Greetings, friends!

We’re planning a summer celebration of Glacier National Park’s North Fork, right on the riverbank the morning of Aug. 24.

Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines together will welcome Canada’s Consulate General Marcy Grossman to commemorate a truly historic transboundary and bipartisan alliance, forever protecting the communities and culture of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Places such as Waterton-Glacier and the North Fork Flathead River Valley do not happen by accident. They are choices that we make together – choices such as the recent Canadian and US legislation that protects our North Fork heritage. Please join us to celebrate the priceless gift of many more summers on the river! We’ll bring the coffee.

Details and directions below…

Celebrating Glacier National Park’s North Fork

Directions to Blankenship Bridge (for non-North Forkers):

  • Enter Columbia Falls on US Hwy 2
  • Turn north on Nucleus Avenue
  • Turn Right at the “T” intersection, onto Railroad Street
  • Continue 8.5 miles up the North Fork Road
  • Turn Right on Blankenship Road
  • Continue 2.4 miles to Blankenship Bridge
  • Cross the bridge; parking is on the left

Tester urges feds to cancel oil & gas leases in Badger-Two Medicine

Sen. Jon Tester is joining the chorus asking for cancellation of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has joined Blackfeet tribal leaders in their efforts to have all federal oil and gas exploration leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area next to their reservation canceled.

In a letter Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Montana Democrat said he agreed with the Blackfeet Tribe that Jewell and Vilsack’s departments “clearly have not just the moral obligation but also the legal authority to cancel all existing leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.”

Tester visited the Blackfeet Reservation earlier this month and discussed the issue with tribal leaders. They maintain that 47 leases in the 165,000-acre area were illegally granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in 1982.

Read more . . .

Tester gets ‘four Pinocchios’ for statements on logging litigation

Senator Jon Tester seriously misstated the effect of lawsuits on logging projects in Montana, causing a minor public furor and earning him “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post . . .

Our inbox started flowing with e-mails from outraged residents of Montana shortly after Montana Public Radio ran an interview in which Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)  asserted that “every logging sale” in the state was “under litigation.” The complaints also reached the radio station, as within a day, Tester’s staff offered a revised statement that focused on “volume” rather than sales. Marnee Banks, his spokeswoman, apologized for the original statement, but Tester himself made no comment.

But when we asked Tester’s staff for evidence to back up the revised statement, they simply directed us to the U.S. Forest Service, rather than explain the data themselves. It’s taken a few days to unravel the numbers, but this is a case of apples and oranges, with a few limes thrown in.

What’s the actual effect of litigation on logging in Montana?

Read more . . .