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Sunday’s online article by Standard State Bureau reporter Jennifer McKee on Sen. Jon Tester’s wilderness/timber bill for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest was very accurate and an exceptionally good summary of the Beaverhead Partnership, except for one phrase: “The Forest Service accepted the plan.”

The Forest Service accepted the partnership proposal as it accepted any comment from the public. It gleaned a few ideas from it. But no, the Forest Service did not adopt the partnership’s wilderness/timber proposals. That’s why the partnership went to Tester to try to legislate the idea. The story goes on to say that the eventual forest plan didn’t satisfy the partnership group.

The unfortunate outcome of the partnership was to cast doubt on the integrity of the forest planning work that people had felt was open until about 2006. The partnership’s political shenanigans then put the forest plan on hold for a time and it never regained public trust.

Now Tester wants special legislation for decisions that should be left to forest managers. Does this mean we’ll get special laws for each national forest? If we do, it’s the end of “national” forests – they’ll become legislated fiefdoms of the local congressional delegation. That’s not a good outcome. And mandating a cut isn’t good forest management either.

The partnership group was on to something, but drew up their drawbridge too soon, before bringing in the Mike McGinleys and Matthew Koehlers and others who were definitely left out.

Then the partnership sold their idea like it was the best thing since sliced bread and they did that very effectively.

But, putting their plan into law is not the right thing to do. Let the forest planning process work. Tester should not be monkeying with that.

(Note: I’m now retired, but was public affairs officer for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest from 1989 to 2008.)

Jack de Golia,

Henderson, Nevada

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