Montana Senator Steve Daines spoke at an Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss the U.S. Forest Service’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Daines is pleased with the progress of the 2014 Farm Bill, but he voiced his concern that it’s not being completed at an adequate pace.
“We’ve identified in Montana about five million acres with dead or dying trees and that’s something we have been communicating to Montanans back home,” said Daines. “These are dead and dying trees, five million acres, you take 6,200 acres of projects that have been identified so far, do the quick math, its about .1% that is currently on the slate to address dead and dying trees which of course present a wildfire risk.”
Daines also pressed the Forest Service to prioritize tribal forestry projects.
“The Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 authorizes the Forest Service to prioritize tribal forestry projects on Forest Service and BLM land to protect these neighboring Indian trust resources from wildfire, disease, and threats originating on nearby federal lands,” Daines said. “Unfortunately, in more than a decade only six projects have been carried out in ten years.”
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said that there will be six more projects this year alone which will double their previous efforts. According to Daines, that is a much better trend-line.