PUBLIC LANDS -- A bill by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, (D-Mont.) to expand wilderness and mandate more logging on federal lands in Montana has passed its first test, according to the Associated Press .
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted today to move the Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act to the full Senate.
The approval comes despite opposition by Republicans on the committee. The measure designates 640,000 acres of forest as permanent wilderness while calling for logging on 100,000 acres.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski argued that is not a fair trade.
Tester introduced the bill during his first term in 2009, touting it as a compromise between environmentalists and loggers.
- Did Murkowski travel to Montana to attend any of the many meetings Tester organized to get feedback from conservationists, hunters, anglers, loggers and timber industry representatives as he worked up the proposed legislation? Seems like Tester can't be too far off the mark. He survived a re-election bid in 2011.
Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon said Tester made it clear that he will continue to work with people in Montana to make sure the measure works.