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Letter: Urging yes vote on House Bill 14

| March 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Dear Editor:

The legislature should pass House Bill 14 by Rep. Bill Nooney (R-Missoula).

Approximately 25,000 acres of prime western Montana forest land, formerly owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. and containing merchantable timber valued at about $10 million, is now available to the state for $800 an acre. Nooney’s bill, financed by the sale of bonds, would enable the 2009 legislative session to take advantage of this opportunity.

During the 20-year bonding period provided for in HB14, a projected 52 million board feet of new timber growth will generate income from this land.

And, the perpetually renewable wood resource will continue to grow, providing sustained yield timber harvest, delivering ongoing revenue to our schools and supporting sustainable jobs long after the bonds have been repaid.

Western Montana is experiencing the change that comes with growth. The subdividing of land into small parcels poorly suited for timber management and off limits to hunters and other recreationists is the most evident change we see.

We must have the wisdom and foresight to manage at least some of our forest land to provide the multiple benefits essential to our traditional rural, resource-based and outdoor culture.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article describing timber land as “the ultimate long-term investment.”

For western Montanans it is that and more than that.  HB14 represents a sound investment for taxpayers as well as a wise investment in what we value about where we live.

Bob Brown, Whitefish