Daines Secures, Advances Critical Montana Wins Including Funding for St. Mary’s Water Project, Forest Management Reforms to Prevent Deadly Wildfires, Pay Raises for Firefighters

U.S. SENATE —After securing the inclusion of major wins for Montana including and funding for the St. Mary’s Milk River Project, bipartisan forest management provisions to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and provide pay raises to wildland firefighters, U.S. Senator Steve Daines today voted to support a bipartisan proposal out of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“After years of work, I’m glad to finally see funding advanced for the St. Mary’s Milk River water project,” Daines said. “ This funding will help repair critical water infrastructure for Montana’s Hi-Line communities and will ensure farmers, landowners and Tribes have access to clean and reliable water.”

On getting forest management provisions included in the package, Daines said: “It’s only July, and Montana is currently on fire—as of this morning, we have 12 active fires across our state. We know that in order to reduce the risk of deadly wildfires in Montana, we need to cut red tape and increase forest management. Before today’s committee hearing, this package had zero forest management provisions to reduce the risk of wildfires in Montana despite the ongoing emergency in our state and across the West. Thankfully, my colleagues heard my concerns and I successfully secured commonsense forestry reforms that will go a long way in reducing future deadly wildfires and supporting Montana timber jobs. I also worked to include a much-deserved pay raise for our brave wildland firefighters who put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and communities.”

Daines also successfully fought to include a Keystone XL pipeline related amendment that requires the Biden administration to study the harmful impacts on the nation’s energy prices and American jobs lost because of President Biden’s decision to cancel the project. Daines has been leading the effort to support the Keystone XL pipeline, stating today the project “would have created thousands of good, high-paying jobs with great benefits, would have provided millions in revenue for local communities, and is the safest way to deliver oil…” Download Daines’specific remarks on Keystone HERE.

Daines successfully included an amendment to help increase the domestic production of critical minerals. This is a priority of Daines because he believes investing in critical mineral production will “help the United States win the race against China and support our economy and national security.”

Daines secured the following provisions in this bipartisan bill:

  • Inclusion of funding for aging water infrastructure that would help finish the St. Mary’s Water Project.
    • Daines has been pushing to provide funding for the St. Mary’s Water Project for years, including introducing the  “St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act.” Daines talked about the importance of reparing the St. Mary’s Water Project at a recent Energy and Natural Resouces Committee hearing in June.
  • Forest management reforms to reduce red tape and increase active forest management to prevent catastrophic wildfire, protect communities and families from wildfires and create good paying timber jobs. 
    • Amendment to establish a new 3,000 acre Categorical Exclusion for reducing fuels alongside Forest Service roads, trails, and transmission lines. For amendment text, click HERE.
    • Amendment to accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation by creating a new statutory authority modeled after the FS’ existing Emergency Situation Determination authority (36 CFR 218.21). The decision to grant an ESD would not be subject to environmental review, and the corresponding projects could be carried out using a streamlined Action, No-Action process. For amendment text, clickHERE.
  • A pay raise and proper job title recognition for Montana’s brave wildland firefighters.
    • Inclusion of his bill, the “Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act,” to grant wildland firefighters a pay raise of either $20,000 or a 50% increase of the current rate.
    • Inclusion of his bill, the “Wildland Firefighter Recognition Act,” to create a new job series that would officially change the job series title from “forestry technician” to “wildland firefighter.” 
  • A reform to increase transparency and public engagement in the permitting process for critical mineral projects, which will help speed permitting of new critical mineral mines. For amendment text, click HERE
  • A requirement for the Biden administration to study the impact of President Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline on energy prices and job loss. Download Daines’ remarks on this HERE.


Contact: Katherine McKeoghKatie Schoettler