U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today celebrated National Forest Products Week by highlighting the important impact forestry has on Montana’s economy.
Montana’s National Forests are a treasured part of the state’s heritage for generations and provide timber-surrounded counties with good-paying jobs and a vital revenue source to fund schools and infrastructure projects.
National Forest Products Week occurs the third week in October as designated by Public Law 86-753 (36 U.S.C. 123), and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week each year. The Montana Legislature established this week in 2011 to honor our forest products industry and extend its appreciation for providing locally made wood products, stewardship of our private and public forests and gainful employment.
“We need to take action to reduce the severity and intensity of wildfires by reforming forest management,” Daines stated. “Montanans are sick and tired of breathing the smoke – Congress needs to take action now to restore the health of our National Forests, get loggers back to work and create more good-paying jobs.”
Montana used to boast of a robust timber economy. The deteriorating health of Montana’s National Forests jeopardizes public safety, undermines recreation and hunting and is harmful to habitat:
- Harvests on Montana’s National Forests are down 80 percent since 1987 – 624 million feet down in FY 1987 compared to 122 million board feet in FY 2016.
- Since 1990 Montana has lost over 40% of its forest industry workforce (12,000 to 7,000 jobs) and two-thirds of its mills.
- According to the U.S. Forest Service, as of October 2016 there are 24 National Environmental Policy Act decisions impacted by litigation encumbering forest health projects in Region 1. Sixteen of these projects were developed through a collaborative process.
- Nearly 5 million acres in Montana’s National Forests are impacted by insect infestation and disease and are eligible for expedited restoration work utilizing authorities established by the 2014 Farm Bill. Through FY16, only 6200 acres are in process of approval.
On September 27, Daines testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on their bill to reverse the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service.
On September 20, Daines wrote an editorial in the Washington Post highlighting the urgent need for forest management reform as the West faced one of the worst fire seasons in recent history.
On September 7, in a letter to Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke, Daines highlighted the need for urgent forest management reforms to reduce the severity and intensity of wildfires to help prevent against another fire season like Montana is currently seeing.
On September 6, Daines took to the Senate floor to raise awareness and draw attention to the fires burning in Montana.