A bill by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester to expand wilderness and mandate more logging on federal lands has passed its first test.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted Thursday to move the bill 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 says that is not a fair trade.
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.
Tester introduced the bill during his first term in 2009, touting it as a compromise between environmentalists and loggers.