WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines today released the following statement on the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s (BBER) study examining the costs and impacts associated with litigation of U.S. Forest Service timber sales in the Northern Region.
“This eye-opening study confirms what we long suspected: Litigation against commonsense timber projects is having far-reaching, damaging impacts on Montana jobs, access to recreation and our environment,” Daines stated. “It is unacceptable that mills in Montana have to go far outside of our state to get logs, largely because 40 to 50 percent of the timber sale volume in Region 1 has been encumbered by litigation in recent years. I will continue fighting to protect responsible harvests from obstructionist tactics so we can get more Montanans back to work, improve forest health, increase access to public lands and provide much-needed sustainable revenues to our forested counties.”
BBER examined the impact of litigation on the Spotted Bear River (SBR) project on the Flathead National Forest. The case was in court for over 1,000 days. BBER found that responding to litigation diverted Forest Services personnel from “implementing the project, conducting other projects, or delivering other services.”
BBER found that because of litigation:
- Improvements to recreation access in the Flathead NF were delayed
- There is an increased fire risk in the project area
- Forest health and wildlife habitat improvements were delayed
- Implementation of several other Flathead NF projects were delayed
- Many other projects faced uncertainty
More broadly, BBER found that, in Region 1, which contains Montana, between June 2012 and June 2013:
- 53% of the non categorical exclusion projects were appealed
- 92% of the timber sale volume and 93% of acres were administratively appealed
- 54% of the timber sale volume and 64% of the acreage (35,485 cruised acres) were litigated
In FY 2014, BBER found that 39% of timber sale volume was encumbered by litigation.
The full study is available here.