U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today is calling on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to do more to reach its timber harvest goals in Montana after falling short by 30% in fiscal year 2021, due in large part to increased litigation and red tape following the Cottonwood decision. Daines stressed that Montana communities rely on the USFS to reach these goals in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, protect families from fires and support their economies.
“I understand the backlog of consultation due in large to the precedent set by the Cottonwood decision has contributed to the shortfall in volume and that the board feet encumbered in litigation now exceeds sale volume in Region 1,” Daines writes. “…making up the volume lost in fiscal year 2022 would provide significant relief to Montanans and ensure needed hazardous fuel reduction projects move forward before it is too late.”
Read the full letter HERE.
Daines recently highlighted this shortfall at a press conference on Montana’s wildfire season. Watch and download remarks HERE.
So far this Congress, Daines has introduced several bills to improve forest management in Montana:
- A bill to fix the 9th Circuit Court’s Cottonwood decision and help end help end frivolous litigation by codifying the position of the Obama Administration. Since January 2016, there have been at least 24 lawsuits in 9 states and 44 notices of intent to sue using the precedent of this decision.
- The “Protect Collaboration for Healthier Forests Act” to protect much needed and collaboratively-developed forest management projects that reduce the risk of wildfire in our National Forests from court room obstructionists.
- The “FIRESHEDS Act,” which allow Governors to work with the Forest Service on prioritizing areas at the highest risk of wildfire and expediting treatment to reduce this risk.
In February, Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service urging the agencies to address the Cottonwood decision that hurts Montana timber jobs and forest management projects in Montana and across the country.