No matter what your take is concerning the North Fork Protection Act, it seems a narrative is building- the US House is actually getting things done, while even matching efforts in the US Senate are getting bogged down. (This for a bill that was sponsored by the then-powerful chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee)
The North Fork Watershed Protection Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., passed the House Tuesday evening and Montana’s Democratic senators are urging their colleagues to do the same.
The legislation essentially protects national forest lands from oil, gas and mineral extraction, but allows continued forest management, in the North Fork Flathead drainage. It is similar and reciprocal to action taken by the British Columbia provincial government in the Canadian North Fork.
Dave Skinner’s got a must-read column in The Flathead Beacon this week where he notes Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) recent support for the North Fork Preservation Act, calling it a lost war.
Here’s an excerpt:
Well, as much as it galls me to say this, the environmental mullahs have pretty much won their war for Northforkistan.
The forests of the North Fork are a complete wreck. Timber harvest was brought to a standstill, again by litigation. We were rewarded with a nirvana of huge fires – Wedge, Roberts, Moose – that toasted thousands upon thousands of acres of habitat and millions upon millions of feet of valuable timber during a hot market. But because that timber was in the holy “Crown of the Continent,” Greens made sure it was left to rot – no jobs, no money to pay back the fire fighting or even consider rehabilitation. Game over.
Nobody should expect Daines to waste his limited political ammo on a lost cause like Northforkistan. There are too many other causes his supporters find much more worthy, and more important, winnable.
Also in the Beacon, Myers Reece covers the North Fork and notes that Daines “forges his own path.” This as Daines says his made isn’t made up on the Rocky Mountain Front
On the day of Steve Daines’ swearing-in ceremony, his office released a photo of the newly elected congressman celebrating with Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, hands joined as if teammates in a show of unity, all three smiling broadly. Excusing the slight awkwardness of the team-huddle arrangement, the photo seemed telling: a Republican congressman and two Democratic senators looking as if they might actually like each other, in an age when public displays of bipartisan respect seem like forgotten relics.
None of this is to say that Daines leans Democrat or is even a moderate Republican on most issues. Quite the contrary, his views on social and fiscal issues position him squarely in the right wing of the GOP. He has called for overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S.
The conclusion among many conservationists was that Daines’ support of North Fork protection is landmark, both for its symbolic and policy implications. A number of people have said it demonstrates that Daines is genuinely willing to explore issues that aren’t necessarily associated with his party’s priorities or values.