ALERT: Senator Tester’s landmark forest jobs bill to get Senate hearing December 17th

SAWS Action Alert

Comment Deadline: Contact the Senate Public Lands and Forests subcommittee prior to December 17, 2009

Why should snowmobilers be concerned about S.1470?

Please be aware should Montana Senator Tester’s bill S.1470 advance from U.S. Congressional committee and become law it will not only affect Montana but may set a precedent for the future of snowmobiling access in other states. ┬áThe end result of this bill is 1.1 million acres of new wildernss or de-facto wilderness in Montana. Although the majority of specified wilderness (600,000 + acres) will result in the Beaverhead DeerLodge National Forest, other forests including the Lolo, Kootenai and Gallatin will also be affected. ┬áBottom Line= Hundreds of thousands of acres in Montana┬á(not miles of trail), ACRES will be closed to snowmobilers.

Abbreviated content from a letter submitted by Montana SAWS rep, Janine Stewart, to the Montana Snowmobile Association and the snowmobile community will help you to understand the core issues of S.1470.  The letter appeared in the November 2009 issue of the MSA NEWS.

To the snowmobilers of Montana and those that visit our state to enjoy this outstanding sport in Big Sky Country.

Have your heard about the wave of the future in how forests might be managed?

IF not, you should be aware that Montana’s Senator Tester has taken on a formidable task in trying to please “everyone”; at least that’s the claim.┬á The “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009” S. 1470 now sits in the Senate committee presented by Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Senator Tester has presented this bill in introduction proclaiming it to be a “win-win” for Montana with regard to employment, recreation and environment.┬á The bill is certainly not titled correctly, perhaps “Montana wilderness and temporary forest jobs” is more appropriate.┬á It certainly did not involve motorized recreation from its inception. This bill does not have overwhelming support from Montana citizens and especially the multiple-use and motorized recreation community including many snowmobilers. Research? ….Basically this bill has to do with timber companies, wilderness association and conservation groups teaming up with their plan and then throwing in a smidgeon of recreation after the ground work called the Beaverhead DeerLodge Partnership felt the heat from the snowmobile, motorized and mechanized recreational communities. A quote from one of the opinion items appearing in the Montana Standard newspaper appears as; “For several years, the Beaverhead and Madison county commissioners along with local groups hammered out an agreement with the USFS. After the last comment period was up, along came a group of environmentalists and timber companies that handed the USFS their version, which the USFS promptly took. This bill uses that version and is completely at odds with what the local communities wanted.”

There are some very interesting sections of the bill that could earn support for those that would like to see our forests returned to a healthy state but this is an all or nothing bill when it comes to accepting all or adding more wilderness to get anything to play through for any other interest. On the other hand those timber components are short-term. 10-15 years at best, and recreation-well that’s considered to be a “gift” to recreationists to gain support.┬á There are other interests such as livestock, ranching, mining and just plain old grass roots county governments that see a loss in revenues in the future to fund education and transportation.┬á The media chooses to minimize those views.┬á It has not been made public knowledge of how the few snowmobile clubs and motorized factions that have supposedly signed on in support, signed on to support projects in their local areas not knowing how it would affect the entire Southwest section of Montana or were told that the overall acceptance of the bill was nothing they should be concerned about.┬á Beaverhead DeerLodge National Forest acreage makes up the majority of the wilderness in this bill.

Let’s not fix something that’s not broken. Cross Country and Back Country travel by snowmobiles has existed in many of these areas for generations.┬á All of those that snowmobile do not just ride established trails. Snowmobile use should continue to be allowed at the levels that access currently exists.

…Senator Tester’s staff have also made statements that the areas designated for wilderness in the BDNF are the same as what appears in the pending current Beaverhead DeerLodge National Forest FEIS.┬á Again a misrepresentation as a number of areas in the bill are not recommended for wilderness in the FEIS including the nationally recognized Mt. Jefferson.┬á Local areas west of Anaconda, Mt in the Twin Lakes, 4-Mile basin area and other Anaconda\Pintler additions are not included in the BDNF FEIS. Senator Tester has in his comments provided the impression there will be additional access for snowmobile use which is dead wrong.┬áMaybe access in some areas in a limited form for residents in areas that snowmobile access is not being taken away from but certainly not equal acre for acre being designated as wilderness and not in the areas in which the most significant portions of snowmobile access will disappear. Snowmobile recreation stands to lose the most with regard to recreational access in this bill.┬á This will be the result of no snowmobiling allowed in areas promoted as wilderness and severe “trail riding” only restrictions in the National Recreation Areas….Kind of like the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Senator Tester had brought some positive actions forward for Montana; this bill however is an endeavor that should go back to the drawing board with truly all user groups represented from the beginning.”

Janine Stewart, Montana SAWS representative

Please use any information from content of the letter and these additional points of reference to offer to the committee and Senator Tester with regard to snowmobile access:

  • The bill has a severe and negative impact on the snowmobile recreation community by eliminating access for back country and off trail snowmobile riding that has existed for at least 30 years.
  • Many areas designated as wilderness in this bill do not meet the true definition of wilderness.
  • Year-round losses of livelihood and enjoyment will result.
  • Senator Tester’s office staff has made statements that the intent of the bill is to leave snowmobile access as it currently exists but no wording changes have been offered to the public about those changes.
  • Transparency has been non-existent with the drafting of S.1470 Senator Tester’s wilderness bill┬á a-k-a┬á “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009”
  • Communities like West Yellowstone, Montana that have experienced business closures every year with the snowmobile cutbacks affecting Yellowstone National Park, which include the recently announced snowmobile entry cutback again this year.┬á West Yellowstone will experience further economic hardship if this bill eliminates snowmobile recreation even further in Montana.
  • Why is this bill necessary to provide for timber harvest?┬á┬áExisting laws, policies and procedures allow for responsible multiple-use of the forest.
  • How does a bill that is based on a 10-year-life with regard to the jobs in the bill provide for the future of Montana?
  • What prevents groups from filing law suits against timber harvest?┬á The Montana Wilderness Association claims their input will prevent this.┬á How is that possible?
  • Wilderness is forever, there is no “future generation management”, and it will not go back to any prospect of ever being utilized for multiple-use.
  • In this day of budget concerns, what costs will taxpayers be subject to with the implementation of this bill?

What can you do?

Please call, mail, e-mail or Fax your opinion to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee prior to December 17, 2009

Energy and Natural Resources Committee
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510 Phone:  (202) 224-4971 FAX:     (202) 224-7970

The link to send an e-mail message to the committee:

and how to contact individual members:

Committee Members
Democrats Republicans
Chairman Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Byron L. Dorgan (ND)
Ron Wyden (OR)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Mary L. Landrieu (LA)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Evan Bayh (IN)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Mark Udall (CO)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)


Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Burr (NC)
John Barrasso (WY)
Sam Brownback (KS)
James E. Risch (ID)
John McCain (AZ)
Robert Bennett (UT)
Jim Bunning (KY)
Jeff Sessions (AL)
Bob Corker (TN)


Here is a link to previous information from SAWS about S. 1470:

Janine Stewart, Montana SAWS Representative
Dave Hurwitz, SAWS Chairman
Scott Chapman, SAWS Intermountain Regional Focal

Copyright ┬® 2009 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

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Tester’s landmark forest jobs bill to get Senate hearing Senator calls December 17 hearing ‘an important step forward’
Wednesday, December 2, 2009  

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A U.S. Senate panel will hold a hearing on Senator Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act-an important step forward in getting the landmark legislation passed through Congress and signed into law.

“Getting a Senate hearing is a key hurdle for any legislation,” Tester said.┬á “But there’s still a long road ahead to get this bill passed so we can put folks back to work, safeguard our outdoor areas and create new recreational opportunities.”

A Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act on December 17.

During the hearing, senators will hear testimony about what the bill does and why it should pass.  It is unknown who will testify at the hearing, but Tester expects several witnesses from Montana.


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