Clean | Green | Sustainable

Tester’s Wilderness Secrecy Embarrassing

Posted by Matthew Koehler on July 10, 2009

Longtime Montana outdoor writer Bill Schneider takes Senator Jon Tester (and his staff) to task with his latest column over at titled, “Tester, Secrecy on Wilderness Bill is Embarrassing.”

Abandoning campaign promises to promote transparency and openness in government, Senator Jon Tester is demanding a secret, exclusive process to draft Montana’s long-awaited wilderness bill.

As I write this, a privileged few from major green groups and the wood products industry are basically drafting this legislation, and our junior Senator considers the rest of us have-nots, telling constituents–and the media–to wait for the press conference. Instead of carefully keeping his thumb on it, Tester should be facilitating a public process on what direction the legislation should take.

Constituents and media requesting copies of the draft legislation are being told to wait for the news release or call the general number and give their views on forest management. How weird is this? Telling people to call in and comment on something they haven’t seen?

Essentially, Senator Tester is saying to his constituents, “As soon as I make my mind up on what I want to do, I’ll be glad to listen to you.”….

Instead of this closed, backroom process that involves only a handful of tight-lipped insiders, Tester should be willingly sending out copies of the draft legislation or at least a synopsis of what’s going to be in the bill. This would give his entire constituency a chance to at least comment on the general direction of the legislation before the door is mostly closed.

That seems like smart politics, too, sending out trial balloons to get a good read on the buzz the bill will create before it goes into the hopper.

Read Wild Bill’s entire column here.


2 Responses to “Tester’s Wilderness Secrecy Embarrassing”

  1. Matthew Koehler said

    Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 12:59
    To: “Stone-Manning, Tracy (Tester)” ,
    “Swanson, Dayna (Tester)”
    From: Matthew Koehler
    Subject: Tester’s Staff: We’re still waiting for you to break the silence

    Hello Tracy and Matt:

    I’d just like to point out that the silence, secrecy and shenanigans from Senator Tester’s office continues regarding your Wilderness/Logging legislation, as we still haven’t been given a copy of the legislation. This is despite repeated requests all week long and yesterday’s promise from someone in your DC office that we’d at least be given maps of the Beaverhead part of your secret proposal.

    Your spokesperson’s notion that once your secret legislation is introduced into Congress “It will be the beginning of the process, not the end” is insulting to everyone. Do you really think that anyone believes that average, ordinary Montanans and Americans will have more of a say in this legislation once it goes to DC?

    Please stop the secrecy and the smoke blowin’ and open up this process to a broad-cross section of Montanans and Americans, who are the rightful owners of these public lands. All your folks have done is served to reward the secret, selective, exclusive nature of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership. That’s not the way we do things in Montana, even if one of the big Beaverhead Partnership promoters happens to be Tracy’s former boss.


    Matthew Koehler
    WildWest Institute

  2. Matthew Koehler said

    Over the weekend I heard directly from a good source that the three enviro groups (Montana Wilderness Association, National Wildlife Federation and Montana Trout Unlimited) and the four timber mills who were a part of the Beaverhead Partnership signed a “Confidentiality Agreement” prior to the start of their secret negotiations that took place three or four years ago. That’s right! A “Confidentiality Agreement!“

    So, in other words, all Sen. Tester is doing by putting the Beaverhead Partnership bill in his legislation is encouraging and codifying public lands management by self-selected special interests groups or corporations who have signed confidentiality agreements among themselves while excluding everyone else who is an equal owner of these lands. Is this really how we want the future of public lands management decided? I strongly say “no” and I hope other people do too!

    TAKE ACTION: Contact Sen. Tester’s office today.

    Senator Tester’s Washington, D.C. Office
    Phone: (202) 224-2644

    Senator Tester’s Missoula Office
    Phone: (406) 728-3003

    Email Senator Tester via his website at:

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