Freshman state Rep. Kerry White is nothing if not a crusader. The problem is, though, crusaders rarely make good legislators.

The Bozeman-area Republican has been a long-standing and outspoken advocate for motorized recreation on public lands, which in Montana means primarily federal lands. In his first weeks as a state lawmaker, White has already staked out a position on a bill in Congress that could potentially create forest product jobs and resolve decades-old controversies concerning the disposition of federal lands.

His resolution, if approved, would stand in opposition to U.S. Sen. Jon Testers Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, a federal measure crafted by diverse interests from the timber industry, recreation groups and environmentalists. The bill would guarantee the harvest of substantial amounts of national forest timber in exchange for the permanent protection of some wilderness areas. It also sets aside some forest lands for motorized recreation.

A hearing on White’s resolution drew voices of support and opposition from a variety of interests groups. Among those was a spokesman for the Montana Mining Association who voiced support for White’s resolution, despite the fact that his organization turned down an invitation to participate in the process that created Tester’s bill.

It has been decades since there has been any movement on the wilderness preservation issue in Montana. Tester’s bill represents the first time in a generation that traditional adversaries have come together on a compromise over just a small portion of Montana’s roadless lands. And it could offer a template and a way forward for resolving the fate of all the state’s roadless lands.

Tester's bill is a good one. It creates jobs for Montanans, protects wilderness and deserves the support of Congress, Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Steve Daines included.

It's worth noting here that state lawmakers have no jurisdiction over federal land management policy. White’s measure, then, seems like more hot air that has been part of the state’s wilderness debate for far too long.

Lawmakers should send this one to the circular file.