Daines: We Need Forest Management Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today fervently implored his Senate colleagues to take long-needed action and move forward bipartisan legislation that includes both a solution for wildfire funding and responsible forest management reforms. 

Click here to watch Daines’ remarks.

Click here to download Daines’ remarks.

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on wildfire management strategies, Daines reiterated the need for comprehensive, bipartisan solutions that address the wildfire funding challenges facing the Forest Service, implement litigation reforms and improve the health of the National Forest system through increased active forest management. 

“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let’s come together and pass a wildfire funding solution as well as timber management that includes some litigation reform – so we can move forward here and protect our forests, protect our jobs and protect the lives of the men and women who fight these fires,” Daines stated.

Daines stressed the detrimental impact that frivolous litigation has had on Montana’s struggling timber industry and the Forest Service’s ability to properly manage Montana’s National Forests. Daines highlighted the Spotted Bear River project as an example of a project was hamstrung by litigation for several years. 

“According to nonpartisan research done by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Montana, the case was in court for over 1,000 days. Instead of planning new forest restoration projects, eighteen Forest Service personnel spent nearly 2,000 hours responding to a lawsuit,” Daines stated. “The impacts of litigation against this project—and many, many others—are extensive and severe, and they should not be accepted.” 

The study also concluded that the litigation increased the fire risk in the Spotted Bear River project area. Daines’ statement on the BBER study is available here

In August, Daines attended a briefing on the Thompson-Divide Complex fires and toured the Incident Command Post at West Glacier.

In a recent editorial, Daines also outlined the necessity of implementing comprehensive forest management reforms and ensuring the Forest Service has the resources necessary to fight fires and implement preventative measures.

Daines is a cosponsor of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which overhauls federal wildfire policy, increases funding for fire prevention and ensures large forest fires are treated and funded as natural disasters. Daines’ release on the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act is available here