WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) today presented Senator Steve Daines of Montana with the 2017 Bernard L. Orell Award.
The award is presented periodically to a member of Congress who has made a significant contribution to state and private forestry. More than 60 percent of forests in the United States are private and state owned forests and nearly 90 percent of the nation’s wood supply comes from these forestlands.
Senator Daines has been a champion of active forest management, for example methods that include thinning the nation’s forests in order to make them more resilient to insects, disease, drought and wildfire. Senator Daines co-sponsored legislation to encourage “cross boundary management”, or treatments of the forested boundary between federal forests and neighboring state and private forests. The bipartisan Environmental and Economic Benefits Restoration Act would support the highest national priorities identified in each state’s Forest Action Plan. In addition the bill focuses National Forest System funding on high risk, cross boundary areas in order to better protect communities and forests.
“State Foresters are honored to present Senator Steve Daines with the 2017 Bernard L. Orell Award. Senator Daines understands that forest threats know no boundaries and strong forest policies can help protect natural resources across all ownerships: state, private, and public lands. Senator Daines has a proven track record as a champion for smart forest policy and we look forward to continuing to work with this leader in Congress for years to come,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester and President of the National Association of State Foresters.
Senator Daines, himself an avid outdoorsman, has been a leader in Congressional efforts to resolve the federal forest management and wildfire funding challenges. He has introduced legislation to more effectively manage adjoining federal forests in order to increase forest resilience, enhance wildlife habitat, and strengthen local economies while resolving the wildfire funding challenge.
Senator Daines has elevated this issue such that Congressional leadership now views its resolution as a legislative priority and the Senator anticipates passage of a funding fix and federal forest reforms during this Congress. He also continues to be an active advocate for many of the priorities which State Foresters would like to have enacted in the next Farm Bill such as an expansion of Good Neighbor Authority which allows states to enter into agreements to manage projects on federal forests.
“NASF has done important work to maintain and strengthen America’s forests and I am honored for their recognition,” Senator Daines said. “We have had one of the most devastating fire seasons in Montana and we must act now on forest reform for health of our forests and to keep good paying jobs. I’ll remain focused on keeping this a priority.”
Through his positions on the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Energy and Natural Resources; and Appropriations, Senator Daines has been a vocal advocate for support of public benefits of forests, many of which are derived from state and private lands and delivered through state forestry agencies.
The Bernard L. Orell Award is named in memory of Mr. Orell, State Forester of Washington State from 1949 to 1953. Orell left the state forestry agency to enter industry and eventually became the vice president at Weyerhaeuser where he became a leader in the development of national forestry policy.