U.S. SENATE — Senator Steve Daines today pushed to find solutions to increase active forest management by reducing red tape on federal lands, including lands adjacent to tribal lands.
During this morning’s Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on the U.S. Forest Service’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, Daines commended the Forest Service for progress on implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, while expressing his dismay that it’s not being completed at an adequate pace.
“As you are aware, nearly five million acres in Montana were designated as insect and disease areas under the 2014 Farm Bill,” Daines stated. “For FY 2015 and FY 2016, I understand there are nine Farm Bill projects in process in Montana, covering approximately 6,200 acres. I’m told that about twenty-five additional Farm Bill-related projects are slated for the next three years, covering another 50,000 to 60,000 acres depending on the ultimate size of the projects.”
“Here’s the challenge—we’ve identified in Montana about five million acres with dead or dying trees that increase fire danger—the current implementation schedule is simply not adequate,” Daines continued.
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Daines also pressed the Forest Service to prioritize tribal forestry projects after accomplishing next to nothing due to bureaucratic challenges.
“The Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 authorizes the Forest Service to prioritize tribal forestry projects on Forest Service and BLM land to protect neighboring Indian trust resources from wildfire, disease, and other threats originating on nearby federal lands,” Daines stated. “Unfortunately, in more than a decade only six projects have been carried out under this law.”
Daines also urged support for provisions in a House-passed forestry bill that expedites the project application process and environmental reviews to improve the working relationship between tribes and the Forest Service.
Forest Service Chief Tidwell under Daines’ questioning testified that those provisions would be “helpful.”