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Rehberg says he’ll keep an open mind on Heritage Act

(CHOTEAU) – MT. CONGRESSMAN DENNY REHBERG ANNOUNCED THIS MORNING THAT HE WILL HOLD A PUBLIC LISTENING SESSION IN CHOTEAU TO DISCUSS THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN FRONT HERITAGE ACT.

THE ACT HAS BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE BY MT. SENATOR MAX BAUCUS AND CO-SPONSORED BY SEN. JON TESTER.

REHBERG SAYS HEADING INTO THE SESSION HE PLANS ON KEEPING AN OPEN MIND, BUT HE NOTED IN A PRESS RELEASE THAT HE HAS ALREADY HEARD, “SOME PRETTY MAJOR CONCERNS,” ABOUT THE BILL.

THE SESSION WILL BE ON SAT. APRIL 21ST, AT 2:30 IN THE CHOTEAU COUNTRY CLUB.

THE HERITAGE ACT WOULD ESTABLISH A CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT AREA, UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE U-S SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.

THE C-M-A WOULD ENCOMPASS APPROXIMATELY 208-THOUSAND ACRES.    THE ACT WOULD ALSO ADD APPROXIMATELY 50-THOUSAND ACRES TO THE BOB MARSHALL WILDERNESS AREA AND ANOTHER 16-THOUSAND TO THE SCAPEGOAT WILDERNESS AREA.

THERE ARE SEVERAL AREAS OF CONTROVERSY ASSOCIATED WITH THE ACT.  ONE OF THOSE IS THE USE OF MOTORIZED VEHICLES.   THE ACT STATES THAT, “THE USE OF MOTORIZED VEHICLES IN THE CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT AREA SHALL BE PERMITTED ONLY ON EXISTING ROADS, TRAILS AND AREAS DESIGNATED FOR USE BY SUCH VEHICLES AS OF THE ENACTMENT OF THE ACT.     THERE IS, HOWEVER, AN EXCEPTION WHICH SAYS, “NOTHING IN THE CLAUSE PREVENTS THE SECRETARY FROM RE-ROUTING OR CLOSING AN EXISTING ROAD OR TRAIL TO PROTECT NATURAL RESOURCES FROM DEGRADATION.

ANOTHER ISSUE IS GRAZING RIGHTS AND THE ACT DOES STATE THAT THE GRAZING IN THE WILDERNESS ADDITIONS, IF ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE ENACTMENT OF THE HERITAGE ACT, SHALL BE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE U-S WILDERNESS ACT.

GRAZING ON THE C-M-A WOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO CONTINUE IF RIGHTS WERE ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO PASSAGE OF THE HERITAGE ACT

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