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Senator Tester's forest bill up for public hearing

Published On: Jul 25 2013 11:03:45 PM MDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2013 11:16:08 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Senator Jon Tester is headed back to Washington, D.C., for a public hearing about an act he helped create -- the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. It is a bill that has both sides of the debate fired up.

The bill would set aside land for recreation and land for logging in the Beaverhead, Deer Lodge and Kootenai National Forests. The bill hopes to create jobs and improve forest management.

However people like Steve Kelly with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies strongly disagree.

"You are going to give us the rocks and ice, cut trees down, and kill the wildlife habitat. This was put together in a pretty closed door environment, with logging interests," said Kelly.

He tells us according to their calculations, the bill will do more harm than good.

"We cannot get it confirmed from Tester or his people about this, it will be about roughly 1 million acres of roadless land," said Kelly.

Jeff Batton, the CEO of The Natural Baby Company, supported the bill from the beginning and believes it is something Montanans can benefit from.

"Environment matters a lot to our business. It is one of the main reasons we support this bill. If people take a look at the specifics of this, they can realize, wow, this is a balanced approach," said Batton.                                      

As for the public hearing coming up in Washington, D.C., we asked Kelly and Batton what they expect.

"I think everything in Washington these days is fairly controversial. I am not exactly sure it is going to go incredibly smoothly," said Batton.

"It is going to be like a kangaroo court. It will be the same people he had in a closed door session before the bill," said Kelly.

The fight to protect and strike down the bill continues as we wait to see how it will move forward in our nation's capitol.

The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 30. To read the bill in its entirety you can click here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s37