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Reading all the various letters about Sen. Jon Tester’s bill has been very interesting. The latest one was from a group of former council members of Montana Wilderness Association (guest column, Feb. 22). I worked on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the county commissioners there, so I understand their disappointment. The county commissioners invested time and effort into the forest planning process, as did the developers of the Tester bill, only to have that process fail them all.

The Forest Service must do something to fix the planning process. Consider making a requirement to come to the table. If you do not participate, you have no further standing to be heard beyond the planning process. Or, the Forest Service needs to look at processes of other agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and get Tester to help legislate that change.

Groups of “obstructionists” masquerading as environmentalists know they can prevent almost all management by taking the agency to court. The difference between these groups and real environmental organizations are that real environmental organizations care about some aspect of the environment, i.e., Trout Unlimited. Also, some true environmental organizations get infiltrated by “obstructionists” so those organizations have to be clear about their missions. MWA has a number of “obstructionists” within their midst. Most of the time, they can be discovered by delving into their true understanding of wilderness. Do they know that the most important aspect of wilderness is the ability of wilderness to allow natural processes to operate? Can predator/prey relationships be allowed and can fire run its natural course? Does introduced vegetation, i.e., knapweed, disease or insects make allowing natural processes unlikely?

I think Tester and the groups with him were sincere in their efforts but they have not addressed the real problem.

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Barry Hicks, Bonner

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