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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Rep Gianforte Plans 'Forest Jobs Tour'

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Congressman Greg Gianforte is kicking off what he’s calling a “Forest Jobs Tour” tomorrow in Helena. A press release says, “Gianforte will hold a roundtable briefing on the status of the Stonewall Project with key stakeholders.”

The Stonewall project is a U.S. Forest Service vegetation management proposal that called for logging, thinning and controlled-burning about 5,000 acres north of Lincoln. Shortly after it was approved in 2016 a federal judge temporarily halted it in response to a lawsuit from the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

A portion of the Stonewall project area is currently part of the 18,000-acre Park Creek fire that started in July. Gianforte and others say the project could have prevented fires there, but University of Montana Forest Ecology Professor Andrew Larson disagrees.

"The environmentalists are not responsible for that fire burning, and had the Stonewall project advanced, it's very likely that the site would be burning today," Larson says.

The briefing Friday at Congressman Gianforte’s Helena office will include representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Lincoln Restoration Committee and the Blackfoot Challenge. Gianforte’s office has not released details on other stops in his “Forest Jobs Tour.”

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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