We’re talking about the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, which Tristan Scott does a good job writing up on the Flathead Beacon. I’d like to add that this is a package of bills, and that many federal laws and regulations governing the state are affected.
Let’s get right into the good stuff here:
- 430,000 acres are now protected from mining and drilling;
- 67,000 new acres are being tacked-onto the Bob Marshall Wilderness;
- 208,000 acres around the Front are now a conservation management area…whatever the hell that means;
- 5,000 acres of mineral rights are being returned to the Cheyenne under the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act;
- Grazing rights have been extended from 10 to 20 years, something that really helps out our ranchers;
- 4 Montana irrigation districts can develop hydropower on their canals and ditches, a great win for our energy bills…and sales to out of state consumers.
This is a big win, but there will be some things people complain about, such as mining and timber issues.
That nearly half-million acres is right up against Glacier National Park, and that’s where some of the first oil drilling in the state of Montana started. Hell, maybe it’s all tapped-out now, I dunno. At least it won’t be developed...and that gets us to the 14,000 acres.
Well, maybe those two are right and in a few years we’ll look back and say so. Of course they won’t be thanked for being right – you never are after the fact…the resentment toward you just grows (I’m sure people like David Ewer knows a little something about that).
All in all, this is good, however, because a lot more people in Montana benefit than suffer. What’s more, we’ve got Tester, Daines and Walsh all working on it. I’m personally happy to see Walsh get some good press and a good photo op like he did today. I don’t know him, but he seems like a good guy that means well and unfortunately had his ass run through the ringer earlier this year. I’m glad to see he’s got an accomplishment.
But then Max Baucus was the one to introduce this legislation before heading off to Red China (Coal-Smoke-White might be more appropriate today).
This is what compromise can look like, too, as Tester makes clear. He was the real leader on this after Baucus, although Daines did do a lot in the House. And that’s something to think about – Daines can do the right thing, and that’s important to remember, because we’ve got him for 6 years…at least. When you can point to him protecting the environment and not doing what coal and oil companies and corporations want, that’s a big deal.
But what about those 14,000 acres that some will be bitching about? I guess that’s why we call it compromise. Hopefully we’ll see more of it, because I’d always rather have something over nothing when the end of the day comes along.