Tester, others say transferring federal lands would burden Montana

2014-08-06T06:00:00Z 2014-10-06T19:55:19Z Tester, others say transferring federal lands would burden MontanaBy ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian missoulian.com

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and a panel of advocates argued against proposals to transfer federal lands to state or private ownership during a Missoula visit on Tuesday.

“For some, that might sound good on the surface,” said Tester, D-Mont. said. “Montanans know how to manage the land. But the state Legislature also has to have a balanced budget. And there’s no way we could absorb our share of the $200 million the federal government now pays. The only way to keep the state budget whole would be to sell off those public lands.”

National Wildlife Federation representative Hayley Newman cited a 2014 Colorado College survey finding that 95 percent of western U.S. residents had visited public lands at least once in the past year.

“I guarantee those people took away lifelong memories,” Newman said. “There are all these green blots on the map, and in my experience I’ve come to realize how different and unique each of these forests is. Top-down national forest plans don’t account for what’s going on and needed on the ground.”

Tester clarified the difference he saw between local input and local ownership.

“The folks who know the forest best are the folks who see it every day,’ Tester said. “But there’s a huge difference – local ownership means access is severely restricted. We’ve seen that pattern in the past. We want Montana voices to be heard when it comes to the management of federal lands. That’s what the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act does and what the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act does. These are ground-based collaborations that have made their way to Washington.”

Tester authored the FJRA, which would make the U.S. Forest Service release at least 100,000 acres of timber on three national forests over 15 years for logging and other economic activity. It would also designate about 637,000 acres of new wilderness and 360,000 acres of recreation areas allowing some motorized or commercial use in Montana. The Rocky Mountain Front bill would preserve existing economic and recreation uses along 208,000 acres of the mountains west of Great Falls while designating 67,000 acres of wilderness.

Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has co-sponsored a different bill by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., that would mandate logging on 50 percent of the . Forest Service’s available timberland and raise barriers to legal challenges of timber sales. Daines also co-signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to “oppose (place-based) Senate proposals that promise to break the current paralysis for a select few, but do not amount to national policy solutions.”

“It was disappointing that he (Daines) signed that letter,” Tester said. “It would be great to have him on board, and hopefully he’s not so boxed in he can’t still get on board. I think there are plenty of arguments to be made how state-based local management decisions are better handled than the top-down management that Doc Hastings has.”

Daines did not return requests for comment on the letter or public lands transfer Tuesday.

Tester agreed with Nick Gevock of the Montana Wildlife Federation that Congress appears to be setting the Forest Service up to fail by reducing its budgets and personnel while management tasks and challenges increase. This summer, Congress failed to pass a supplemental funding bill that would have allowed the Forest Service to cover much of its anticipated $600 million in firefighting expenses as natural disasters, rather than raid its annual budget by eliminating day-to-day management activity.

“If we don’t start managing forests in a different way, we’re going to lose infrastructure,” Tester said. “We’re going to lose it, and then it will all be on the taxpayer.”

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) Comments

  1. 00dk
    Report Abuse
    00dk - August 07, 2014 11:04 am
    Seems pretty simple...transfer to state ownership, NO private sales, exclude the feds(who milk every project dry till the states and public are over paying for mediocre work at best!) and put Montanans to work. This fed take over has got to stop! These fed lands WILL be the first to go in order to settle debts with other countries. It is already happening and will snowball until we have nothing! If that is not feasable, clean up the fed programs of their ridiculous work ethic and the tool bags they claim as workers and conservation alists! Have a nice day.
  2. Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria
    Report Abuse
    Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria - August 06, 2014 7:05 pm
    Tester is right.
  3. gato
    Report Abuse
    gato - August 06, 2014 3:40 pm
    Sometimes it's not all about the money.
  4. WhiteHat
    Report Abuse
    WhiteHat - August 06, 2014 1:47 pm
    Tester's advice sounds like King George's saying the colonies would be overburdened being independent from England.
  5. js350454
    Report Abuse
    js350454 - August 06, 2014 10:35 am
    This is Tester's second public meeting in Missoula in just over 2 months. He is not hiding and has nothing to hide from. Were you at the public event yesterday? Or were you hiding? I was there. Montanans overwhelmingly approve of Jon Tester. The only thing Democrats should be ashamed of is not holding elected republicans accountable for the slow destruction of our country.
  6. js350454
    Report Abuse
    js350454 - August 06, 2014 10:29 am
    jus wundrin - Based on your comment you must not be a hunter or a fisherman who uses public land. You mus be a 1%er multimillionaire who already owns a private hunting preserve. You can must be able to afford to buy all the land and close access to the rest of us to hunting and fishing for your own personal gain... or you are paid by them to comment here... or you are simply brainwashed by them.


    If you are not a 1%er multimillionaire, why do you fight for their benefits above your own? Do you think they care about you? They do not need our help to get more power. They can already buy our politicians. If you fight to give the 1%er multimillionaires our public lands, and they win, you cannot vote them out of office to change management policy... plus they would rely on public money for fire suppression, etc. So you and I will lose twice if they win.


    Wake up!
  7. Smilely
    Report Abuse
    Smilely - August 06, 2014 10:06 am
    Only a fool would believe that the federal government and 350 million Americans would allow the State of Montana and its people take over the management of the federal public lands in Montana today. The federal government is the only ones capable of managing precious lands in Montana. Montana needs to be and is being saved from Montanans. These bills are going nowhere. They are a pipe dream. They are dead in the water. What these fools are forgetting is the federal lands in Montana today belong to ALL Americans and they are NOT for sale. In addition, do not be fool by these bills the FJRA or the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. If you are an advocate for wilderness these bills are the absolute worst thing that could happen. These bills not only would provide for the wholesale destruction of the vast majority of our Inventoried Roadless Areas but open up many more to motorized vehicles. Also these bills would open up areas to development and motorized vehicles that if left exactly the way they are today they would continue to enjoy many of the same protections as wilderness areas - as in no motorized vehicles. These bills would also terribly compromise the integrity of the wilderness areas we already have by opening up the Inventoried Roadless Areas that surround our wilderness areas acting as buffer zones. Just imagine what a disaster that would be with roads surrounding and up close to wilderness boundaries: sounds from logging operations right up against and surrounding the boundaries, and the same with ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and easier access for the masses of people who really want a more civilized, more comfortable, more convenient, and more easily accessible forest experience and this is exactly why wilderness was created in the first place to keep this type of user far from the last few remaining areas where people can go experience the complete opposite. The other advantage of leaving things right the way they are right now is most of these Inventoried Roadless Areas have no names on them and as soon as you put a name on them they will be over ran. The longer we take to decide on a travel plan for our national forests the better off for preservation, because in the future when open land is even scarcer the federal government will be more apt to designate them wilderness areas which they rightly deserve. Remember, and almost everyone has said it before, there are things in life more important than money; and having less than 5% of our total land mass in the U.S. road less are one of those things. Come on timber industry let us see some REAL innovation from you when it comes to TRULY sustainable logging so that the miserly 5% of the total land mass of the U.S. that includes wilderness areas, national parks and Inventoried Roadless Areas can be left in peace and quiet the way WE the people deserve. Go have at it – the other 95% of the land mass and stop trying to be so hard-headed.
  8. whatsupwiththat
    Report Abuse
    whatsupwiththat - August 06, 2014 9:59 am
    The budget aside, which for most states would be catastrophic, the main issue is the loss of public lands (the lands that you and I own) and the recreation that is attached to them. This nothing more than the extreme conservatives (OK, the tea party) trying to get their hands on what is left of the public lands that you and I have access to for a one-time payment and then the unrestricted abuse by the industries that make their living off you and I. Do not misunderstand, I believe in multiple-use of public lands to support jobs associated with the extractive industries, I simply believe that these are better managed on a federal level than on a supposed state level where these lands would go to the highest bidder. So, let the stupid remarks from the right rain down-make no mistake they want everything they can take and the first step is the transfer of our lands.
  9. Watching
    Report Abuse
    Watching - August 06, 2014 9:58 am
    No, everyone does NOT benefit by selling OUR national forest land to private owners, and if you think that, you might want to do a little more "wundrin." You might wonder how you - as a hunter, backpacker, fisherman or back country horseman - would ever have access to those formerly public lands again if they were sold to the highest private bidder. You wouldn't. You're in the minority on this one, wundrin. And to The Truth, who has been wundrin where Jon is: He's been wurkin - unlike his obstructive colleagues in the House.
  10. knapweed
    Report Abuse
    knapweed - August 06, 2014 8:50 am
    As screwed up as the Feds are, selling off the National Forests and BLM land to exploitive and exclusive special interests is a non-starter. The ultimate “lock up”. Any plan, policy or law that tries that, directly or indirectly through States, will mobilize virtually every sportsman against Daines and whatever Republican signs on. Even most conservatives in western states won’t buy in. They’d be idiots to even try that. And they’re dumb as posts to even be talking about that.
  11. Gadfly
    Report Abuse
    Gadfly - August 06, 2014 8:37 am
    The land is not Montana's to have transferred to the state. It is the land of all Americans belonging as much to someone in another state. Montana could not and does not better manage federal land. It would soon all be sold off to development, extraction industries, ranchers, rich people until it would all be gone. State management/ownership would pretty much wipe out true wilderness, of which only 3% of the remaining 2.6% is in Montana. The federal government is already too generous with public land leasing to the tune of 772 leases on national forests in Montana and 3776 leases on BLM land for grazing not counting oil and gas leases. There are 23,000 such leases in 16 western states. These leases are dirt cheap at $1.35 per animal unit per month. The state could not afford to lease at that rate and most leasers probably know that. With leases and in other ways we are already encroaching on wildlife in major, destructive ways. The state management would be worse. This is a conservative right wing idiotic idea that has been going around; but then what can we expect from the right wing nuts?
  12. wondering
    Report Abuse
    wondering - August 06, 2014 8:33 am
    The state of Montana can make money actively managing timber on these lands. Tester thinks we would have to spend as much money as Feds. Not so. Give the state the land and watch the timber industry take off.
  13. nonconfron
    Report Abuse
    nonconfron - August 06, 2014 8:28 am
    Jus...What ya gonna do when:
    Orange fence posts and no trespassing signs stop you from hunting, wood cutting, truck camping on what used to be public lands??????????????????????
  14. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - August 06, 2014 7:00 am
    Tester is a well known for being an Obama stooge and flunky, so how credible is Tester anymore? Not much. He sold his political soul to this demonic Obama long ago. Not many Montanans listen to Tester anymore.
  15. Miss Muralist 12
    Report Abuse
    Miss Muralist 12 - August 06, 2014 1:23 am
    Anyone who doesn't like this should move to Texas. They have almost no public land.
  16. Davy Crockett
    Report Abuse
    Davy Crockett - August 06, 2014 12:57 am
    Sell off public lands? Jon is full of hogwash. The state would hugely benefit in managing public lands by responsible use of Montana's vast natural resources. Those opposed to the idea resort to scare tactics. Since Tester supports federal control of those lands, he must support letting our timber burn instead of using some of it. He must also support obliterating public access which is taking place every year. The state DNRC does a fine job with current state lands, I'll bet they can manage the rest of public lands. Selling it? Never going to happen. BTW, ever stop to think those public lands may be currently held as collateral for debts owed to foreign countries? It is past time for the state to take over.
  17. Greg Strandberg
    Report Abuse
    Greg Strandberg - August 05, 2014 11:56 pm
    This is a good deal. We can log and get at a lot of land for timber and a lot is designated for open use. Tourism employs 80,000 people or so and people are coming here because of these beautiful lands.

    With the forest service kicking in more for firefighting we know we'll be good for a few years. All that open access is great for hunters and fishermen and they won't have to worry about the pristine areas they need being trammeled by development or cut off by private interests.

    This is a good deal for Montana and I don't know why Daines doesn't see that. Does he have a plan for coming up with that $200 million we'd need each year to foot the bill?
  18. Plainsman
    Report Abuse
    Plainsman - August 05, 2014 10:54 pm
    Oh yeah, that's what I (and every hunter, hiker, camper, sightseer and fisherman) wants to see in Montana. Sell all the public land to wealthy out of staters and kiss your access for all of those activities good bye. Ever had a rich out of stater buy a huge chunk of prime Montana hunting and hiking land in your area and, before the ink on the contract is dry, post and Absolutely No Trespassing sign on the access. I have and it ain't pretty. So, all you advocates of private ownership of public lands -- stupidest idea and worst policy proposal I have heard in at least the last month.
  19. Smilely
    Report Abuse
    Smilely - August 05, 2014 10:46 pm
    Only a fool would believe that the federal government and 350 million Americans (minus the fools who would want the state of Montana and its people to try managing the federal lands in MT. today) would allow the take over of federal lands in Montana by this state and its people. The federal government is the only one capable of managing the wilderness areas, the national parks and other federally managed lands here in Montana. What Montanans who would like to see the state take over are greatly forgetting is these federal lands belong to ALL Americans and they are not for sale - PERIOD. I'll say it again with an added emphasis: The federal government is the only one capable of managing precious lands in Montana. Montana needs to be and is being saved from Montanans. And about these two sham bills talked about in this article, they are garbage and the American people will not stand for any variation of them. They will never pass and this is not just wishful thinking. They are dead in the water and they are going nowhere.Do not be fool by these bills the FJRA or the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. If you are an advocate for wilderness this is the absolute worst thing that could happen. These bills not only would provide for the wholesale destruction of many of our Inventoried Roadless Areas but open many more to motorized vehicles. Also these bills would open up areas to development and motorized vehicles that if left exactly the way they are now they would continue to enjoy many of the same protections as wilderness areas as in no motorized vehicles. These bills would also terribly compromise the integrity of the wilderness areas we already have by opening up the Inventoried Roadless Areas that surround our wilderness areas right now. Just imagine what a disaster that would be with roads surrounding and up close to wilderness boundaries: sounds from logging operations right up against and surrounding the boundaries, and the same with ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and easier access for the masses of people who really want a more civilized, more comfortable, more convenient, and more easily accessible forest experience and this is exactly why wilderness was created in the first place to keep this type of user far from the last few remaining areas where people can go experience the complete opposite. The other advantage of leaving things right the way they are now is most of these Inventoried Roadless Areas have no names on them and as soon as you put a name on them they will be over ran. The longer we take to decide on a travel plan for our national forests the better off for preservation because in the future when open land is even scarcer the federal government will be more apt to designate them wilderness areas which they rightly deserve. Remember, and almost everyone has said it before, there are things in life more important than money; and having less than 5% of our total land mass in the U.S. road less are one of those things. Come on timber industry let us see some real innovation from you when it comes to truly sustainable logging so that the miserly 5% of the total land mass of the U.S. that includes wilderness areas, national parks and Inventoried Roadless Areas can be left in peace and quiet the way we the people deserve. Go have at it – the other 95% of the land mass and stop trying to be so hard-headed.
  20. jus wundrin
    Report Abuse
    jus wundrin - August 05, 2014 8:47 pm
    Bunk!

    Just sell the land for private ownership jon, and everyone benefits. The fed gets the money from sales, not to mention the income taxes of businesses that operate there. And the state will receive annual property taxes from the new owners.

    .....but da gubment wants power, and land ownership helps provide that.

  21. The Truth
    Report Abuse
    The Truth - August 05, 2014 8:41 pm
    Where oh where has Jonny been? Under his desk since Obama's debacle of an administration has nose-dived in the polls. Wisely he is ashamed of his party and would like to distance himself from the Dems. But Montanans are on to him…he can hide but he can't run.
Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Silver's Lagoon fish stocking

Fish are stocked in Silver's Lagoon at McCormick Park in preparation for children's fishing derbies.

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

Visual note-taking at Asia-Montana Energy Summit

Visual note-taking at Asia-Montana Energy Summit

Watch visual note-taker Alece Birnbach record a 90-minute seminar on global energy in 21 sec…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

loading...

Search our events calendar