HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today led a coalition of six governors in criticizing federal agencies for plans to adopt new forest management rules without addressing state concerns.
In a letter to President Biden and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack, the governors wrote in response to a notice of intent (NOI) by the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to prepare an environmental impact statement amending all land management systems to include old-growth forest conditions without engaging with states.
“We have watched this effort unfold over the course of nearly two years,” the governors wrote. “During this time, USDA and USFS leadership have failed to engage with us as leaders of our states to address any of the challenges and flaws we have identified. While the NOI seems to suggest that there were areas of consensus, we clearly do not agree with that assessment. Our concerns remain ignored.”
In addition to criticizing the agencies for their blatant disregard for state interests, the governors noted that the proposed amendment would run counter to State Forest Action Plans adopted to address forest health and wildfires.
The letter included signatures from Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
The governors concluded, “USDA and USFS should be focusing on where the need truly is – removing administrative bottlenecks and working with partners to increase the pace and scale of forest management projects in order to meaningfully address our forest and wildfire health crisis.”
The letter from the governors can be found here.