5 Feb 2010, 11:00pm
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Rehberg wants wilderness ‘phase-in’

Plan addresses concerns that logging would be delayed in current Tester bill

By Jim Mann, Daily Inter Lake, February 5, 2010 [here]

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., is calling for a measure that would phase in wilderness designations as forest stewardship projects are accomplished through legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Rehberg has posted on his Web site comments gathered during 22 meetings held across the state in recent weeks, all focused on Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

An “overriding concern” at the meetings, Rehberg said, is that the bill’s wilderness designations would be immediate, “while there is no assurance that stewardship components would not be infinitely delayed by litigation.”

So Rehberg is proposing a wilderness “phase-in” that would time wilderness designations with active management of other federal lands that the bill addresses.

“While I appreciate the buy-in from the partnerships that helped draft the bill, this legislation affects all Montanans who deserve the right to be heard,” Rehberg said in a press release. “In addition to some other fixes, an incremental phase-in would help ensure logging isn’t bogged down by lawsuits after new wilderness areas are designated.”

But Tester is not so receptive to what he calls a “trigger” provision for wilderness designations.

Responding to an inquiry on the senator’s position, spokesman Aaron Murphy provided this statement: “The loggers who support this bill know trigger language won’t fly in Congress. Jon wants a practical bill that can pass Congress and become law, so folks can back to work in the woods. He’s considered this idea and many other, and he looks forward to discussing them with Congressman Rehberg.” … [more]

Note: Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson who adds, “Language deception from stem to stern…”

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