By Brian Hawthorne
Senator Tester uses influence on powerful appropriations committee to slip his giant Wilderness bill into this massive pork package. This piggie will pass unless you act. Call your senators immediately. The crown jewel of western snowmobiling, Mt. Jefferson, is included in this Wilderness bill.
Montana's Senator Jon Tester has used his position on the powerful Senate Appropriation Committee to slip his Wilderness legislation into a giant 2000-page government spending bill, the 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Do not e-mail. Do not communicate via web form. Legislators ignore e-mails. They do, however, pay attention to phone calls.
Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 and tell your Senator:
"Please oppose the 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Tell your Senator that you strongly oppose the back-room shenanigans and non-budget related sections of this bill."
Do it NOW. Please.
We've included some background info and links to information on the web below.
The reason Senator Tester's bill hasn't passed already is because it has problems that he refuses to fix. Slipping it in the appropriations bill behind closed doors, along with billions of dollars of pork and deficit spending, is the height of legislative arrogance. We must not let this stand.
Check out this statement from Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg:
"This is government at its worst. Montanans have had zero input on this new wilderness bill. It hasn't even had a public hearing in Congress. What's more, Senator Tester is jamming his unpopular bill into yet another trillion dollar spending bill jam packed with pork. These are exactly the sort of underhanded tactics the American people rejected in November.
Senator Jon Tester from Montana has been pushing the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act for several years. It's billed as a compromise between preservation, forest health and recreation. Tester has been maintaining that the bill actually protects motorized access, as well as designates suitable Wilderness and allows for logging to address forest health issues.
BRC's staff and volunteers have gone over the bill in detail and it "almost" gets there. Believe it or not, there are only a few relatively minor changes that would make this bill palatable. The bill needs to buck up its mandate for timber management and, in order to guard against greenie lawsuits, it needs to clarify its intent on travel management and the popular Mt. Jefferson Snowmobile area needs to be removed from Wilderness designation. If Senator Tester had done these things, I think many multiple use activists could have been convinced to support the bill.
These flaws, or more accurately, the refusal to address any of these flaws, and the refusal to bring local governments to the table, are why Tester's bill has languished in Senate.
Instead of working with stakeholders and making meaningful adjustments, the Senator is simply using his position on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee to bully his way over the concerns of the American people.
So, hidden among $8 billion of earmarks, unpopular health care funding and 2000 pages of borrowing and spending, is his pet Wilderness bill. The Senator and his colleagues waited until one week before the Christmas holiday before letting anyone look at it. This is truly an outrage and it must be opposed at all costs.
In our busy lives, while we put our attention to work and family, many will say they simply do not have the time to call their Senators. While everyone at BRC fully understands, we believe this is perhaps the single most important issue facing recreational users, both motorized and non-motorized, in decades. If this sort of thing is seen as "acceptable," by the American public, it will only be a matter of time before some other Senator decides to slip in a bill that closes your favorite recreational area.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Click here, and enter your zip code. Call your Senator's State office, or the office nearest your home and say: "Please oppose the 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Tell your Senator that you strongly oppose the back-room shenanigans and non-budget related sections of this bill.
More Info On The Web:
Tester's wilderness, jobs initiative attached to federal appropriations bill
Forest Jobs and Recreation Act
A Teachable Wilderness Bill
Wilderness Activists Fail to Close Mount Jefferson in Forest Plan - Push Legislation Instead
Snowmobilers Celebrate Mount Jefferson Victory
Link to the 2011 Consolidated Appropriations Act
National news regarding the Appropriations bill:
Senate Dems unveil $1.1T spending bill
Senate spending bill contains thousands of earmarks
Revolt: Republicans Angry About Omnibus Spending Bill Decry 'Total Mess'
Sen. McConnell On 2000-Page Omnibus Bill: "No One Has Seen It"
Democrats' budget bill: $1.1 trillion; 1,900 pages