KTVQ: Daines-backed tribal forestry bill clears Senate committee

Fresh off the heels of Wednesday’s announcement by Weyerhaeuser that they’ll be closing their lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls due to a lack of logs, U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) announced that a bill to improve the health of both Indian and federal forest land recently passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

This action on the Daines-backed measure follows a June 8, 2016 legislative hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 

“The status quo on federal lands is unacceptable and costing Montanans good paying jobs,” Daines stated. “We must pursue every tool available to make our forested lands healthier and get more Montana logs to our mills,” Daines noted in a statement.

The Tribal Forestry Participation and Protection Act keeps both Indian forest land and federal forest land healthy by fostering greater cooperation between tribes and the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, according to a news release.

Daines noted that his bill is supported by the Blackfeet Tribe, the Crow Tribe, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Montana Wood Products Association, the Intertribal Timber Council, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Boone and Crockett Club.

Daines says the Weyerhaeuser mill closure announcement is “devastating news” for Columbia Falls and its economy, and he believes the development underscores the need for forest reform legislation.