As a seasoned wilderness ranger, as someone who believes strongly in the protection of our remaining wild landscapes for the benefit of future generations, and as a young person who hasn't seen a new wilderness created in Montana in my lifetime, I couldn't have been happier to stand with other supporters of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to hear from the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Jon Tester.
We may have all generally looked the same, but the diversity of the crowd became apparent when Tester opened the discussion to the audience. Timber industry employees, ATV users, sportsmen, environmental educators and wilderness advocates alike joined together in support of what could become the new model of federal land management in the West - collaboration and compromise.
All sides can never get all they want - that's not how politics works - but all sides know this is a large first step in the right direction, and that should this bill prove successful, more of its kind may be on the way.
The time is right for a bill that combines the efforts and goals of a wide range of Montana's population. Let's work together to make the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act a reality.
Zack Porter, Missoula