Does Sen. Tester watch PBS?

by Pete Talbot

I certainly hope so. I’ve been able to catch most of the documentary on our country’s national parks, produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, and airing on Montana PBS stations. It’s an extraordinary series.

The show’s subtitle is “America’s Best Idea.” Well, it certainly is one of them. And our national park system is unique to America.

The historical battle to authorize pristine areas “for all people” and to preserve and maintain them for future generations is fascinating. It was often a few dedicated, passionate (and sometimes very wealthy) individuals who convinced congress to establish these national parks, one at a time. The obstacles were many and the arguments against forming these national treasures sound very familiar to the debate surrounding the protection of what’s left of our wild and scenic landscapes today.

Fortunately, the national park advocates of generations ago prevailed. Can you imagine this country without Grand Canyon National Park or Yosemite, Yellowstone or Glacier?

Around the same time the show premiered, Sen. Tester was in Bozeman explaining his Montana wilderness proposal. There seems to be some discontent on all sides of the issue. It’s the usual players: wilderness advocates v. the extractive industries, motorized vehicle riders v. hikers v. mountain bikers v. horseback riders …

Most everyone applauds the Senator for his effort, though, and appreciates his balanced approach (although they wish it was balanced more in their direction).

The final draft is yet to hit the Senate so here’s a plea from a constituent. Jon, as you are weighing the options, please come down on the side of wilderness. If the PBS documentary taught me anything, it’s that they’re not making too much of it anymore and future generations will thank you.

  1. Big Swede

    Jon didn’t have the time to watch.

    Was attending all those town halls meetings on health care.

  2. ladybug

    Jon is lying about so-called environmental groups and lumbermen never before working together to turn public forests into stumps. These very same groups (MWA, TU, TWS, NWF and other collaborators) seldom, if ever, have sued to stop public-forest logging. In fact, these groups have always been pro-timber. Way back in 1992 they supported “releasing” 99% of the “suitable timber” base acres in bills by Williams, and Burns-Baucus. Nothing has changed with these green-wash groups.

  3. petetalbot


    Health Care reform isn’t really Tester’s bailiwick but you bring up a good point. I didn’t want to add this to the post and ruin the beautiful flow of my prose but I applaud Tester for actually going out and meeting with his constituents to discuss his wilderness plan … as opposed to our senior senator who is nowhere to be found (in Montana, anyway) in the health care debate.

    • Big Swede

      And why is that Pete?

      Could it be that the majority of Montanans agree with Tester’s wilderness proposals vs avoiding controversy regarding his perceived vote on health care?

      People have good memories, 2012 isn’t that far away.

      • Roadless Public lands in Montana are a national treasure, and should not left to be dealt with by the generally right wing people of Montana. They are federal lands.

      • petetalbot

        Don’t quite follow you here, Swede. Wilderness is Tester’s bill. It’s the legislation he should be out there explaining, not health care; that’s Baucus’ baby.

        • Big Swede

          You’re right Pete, nationalized health care effecting all the states residents, and then some, is a mere spec of an issue compared to MT wilderness.

          Health Care wasn’t Denny’s legislation either, yet he made an effort to get our opinion.

          • petetalbot

            It’s all about committee assignments, Swede. Max gets finance, ergo health care, and Jon gets interior, ergo wilderness. They’re not going to step on each other’s toes.

            And Denny “made an effort to get our opinion” in a dozen towns with populations averaging less than 2000 people.

          • JC

            Made an effort?

            Hardly. Unless you don’t feel that Missoula’s opinion needs to be heard, in which case you’re just a hypocrite.

            He avoided Missoula like the plague during townhalloween time.

          • Big Swede

            “Stepping on toes” or “towns with 2000” make for some great campaign fodder in a couple years.

  4. klemz

    That’s a non sequitur, Pete. The wilderness bills they’re developing are quid pro quo alternatives to wholesale wilderness expansion. The land in question may already be national parkland (more than half of wilderness areas currently are). What we’re really talking about is getting roadless areas out of the hands of the BLM and especially the Dept of Ag-run USFS.

    Ken Burns didn’t make a documentary about that, though.

    • petetalbot

      Geez, klemz, it was a metaphorical analogy. Give a writer some slack. You don’t see the similarity between the struggle to get national parks and the current battle for more wilderness?

      • klemz

        Of course, I’m being a kill-joy editor. I just red-penned you, sucka.

        • petetalbot

          So, klemz, a writer and an editor are crawling across the desert, dying of thirst. They finally come to an oasis and the writer starts drinking. He looks up and the editor is pissing in the spring.

          “What the hell are you doing?” asks the writer.

          “Making it better,” says the editor.

  5. Jim

    Please, let’s not call this bill a Wilderness Bill. This bill is designed to commercialize roadless wildlands. The lands protected are rocks and ice that would never be logged even if it grew trees. The organizations that put this bill together are the same incompetents that brought the Lolo and Kootenai Accords several years ago. Another process that only allowed participation by non-wilderness activists. It failed, thankfully, because of the process of putting the bill together. Tester still is afraid to bring this circus to Missoula because it would get slammed by folks who understand the importance of wildlife corridors, and the importance of geographically diverse wilderness which protects winter range and low elevation protection. It’s sad to see the organizations who support this bill slowly tearing apart the protections that the great wildlands advocate, the late Senator Lee Metcalf plalced upon these areas. They should be ashamed to call themselves wilderness lovers.

  6. problembear

    seems like jon said that this rehashed conrad burns bill needed more stuff in it to enable it to pass congress…..hmmmm. might i suggest wrapping it in burlap and strapping it to a couple of sticks of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene. otherwise known as TNT.

    add some spark and you’ve got a nice flaming pile of confetti….

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