BHA endorses Forest Jobs and Recreation Act

To: Senator Jon Tester
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510-2604

Dear Senator Tester

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers strongly endorses the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act sponsored by you and currently under consideration in Congress.

Montana’s national forests are important for both the people of Montana and for Americans more broadly. In short, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act will guarantee and protect outdoor access and opportunity for today’s outdoorspeople and for generations to come.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are dedicated hunters and fishermen from across the country. Our outdoor activities are partially or wholly dependent on National Forest lands across the United States. America’s public lands are the envy of the world for outdoor recreation, appreciation of natural ecosystems, and pursuit of wildlife and fish. Here in Montana, our culture, way of life and wellbeing depend on well-managed ecosystems providing habitat for all native fish and wildlife, and specifically quiet, natural lands in which to pursue our outdoor activities. At the same time, Montana families and communities also depend on a predictable sustained flow of raw material to keep sawmills and other wood-processing infrastructure in place.

We believe the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act appropriately provides for a working forest on the most compatible lands, while protecting the most pristine lands as Wilderness. Continuing to manage for forest diversity through timber harvest on already roaded lands offers much opportunity to surrounding communities, as well as hunters and anglers who also want to use these lands. Our members understand that some disturbance in fire-dependent ecosystems such as beetle-prone lodgepole pine is necessary to create vegetative conditions favorable to deer, elk and moose along with many other non-game species. We believe the proposals in the Act will provide desirable vegetative conditions while managing road access to provide non-motorized hunting opportunities and important wildlife security.

Also, managing the road system with only necessary roads will minimize sediments to our important cold-water fisheries habitat. We very much appreciate provisions in the bill to protect and restore the headwaters of some of Montana’s blue-ribbon trout streams. These headwaters provide priceless clean water, far downstream.

Our wildest lands on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Lolo and Kootenai Forests are at risk from pervasive and inappropriate motorized uses. Mountain goats are vulnerable to winter disturbance when these animal’s energy conservation is important to their survival, and winter displacement can mean death. These wildest lands also provide the secure wildlife habitat for many hunted species that allow big bull elk and mule deer to grow to maturity and provide opportunity for liberal hunting opportunities. Because these lands are economically and ecologically infeasible to develop, there is little conflict with Wilderness and other uses. Meanwhile, thousands of miles of roads and trails will remain open across Montana for people who enjoy responsible ATV riding outside of Wilderness Areas.

We urge you to continue to pursue passage of this well thought out Act.

s/ben long and joel webster
Ben Long, Kalispell and Joel Webster, Missoula

s/greg munther
Greg Munther, Missoula
Montana Chapter Chairman

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