LETTER: Thumbs-up for North Fork, Thumbs-down for Consistency

By Beacon Staff

Congressman Steve Daines deserves credit for advancing the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, but he needs to work on being more consistent and reliable with similar Montana-made legislation.

The day Daines helped pass the North Fork legislation out of the House of Representatives he also voted to pass another local grassroots bill that protected a historic lakeshore in Michigan. This is significant because it was the first time in his career he helped pass a collaborative, solution-oriented bill that includes new wilderness area into law.

If Daines and the House of Representatives are capable of voting to protect the nation’s most spectacular places in Michigan they are capable of voting to protect our most special place in Montana, too. We’ve got a winner with the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives can’t vote on legislation that that hasn’t been introduced. Daines has shown himself to be leader on the North Fork, and now here’s a chance to provide leadership on the Montana sportsmen’s paradise: the Rocky Mountain Front.

The Heritage Act is one of our best examples of a local grassroots citizens’ initiative that would keep a special place – the Rocky Mountain Front – just the way we like it. It was built by Montanans to protect our access, wildlife and ranching heritage. It was introduced in the Senate by former Sen. Max Baucus and is now cosponsored by Sens. Walsh and Tester. All that it needs now is our entire delegation working together in the same fashion Montanans worked together when they originally built it.

After Daines passed the North Fork bill out of the House last month he said: “The North Fork Watershed Protect Act represents common sense resource management – the kind of common sense that Montanans understand and Washington needs more of.”

The same has consistently been said of the Heritage Act by the majority of Montanans, including hunters, anglers, small businesses and local government, but we are still waiting for Daines to take action. His lack of clarity on the legislation makes even less sense now that he has voted to advance similar protections in other states.

I would urge any candidate seeking the Senate or House seat to work to pass Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Daines has a golden opportunity for being more consistent with voters and for honoring the hard work of so many Montanans. This legislation is important for Montana and it deserves the support of our entire delegation.

Tim Aldrich

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