06.25.20

Daines Introduces Bill to Cut Red Tape to Improve Forest Health, Support Critical Timber Jobs

Bill will fix the disastrous Cottonwood decision

U.S. SENATE – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Steve Daines introduced a bill that will address the challenges stemming from the Cottonwood decision that created a new standard for re-consultation on Forest Plans when ‘new information’ is made available. The bill will improve the health of forests, advance wildlife and restoration projects, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and support timber jobs.

“Even the Obama Administration agreed that the Cottonwood decision was flawed and crippled forest management. This law has tied the hands of our land managers, prevented them from following the best available science in management decisions, and diverted resources for an paperwork exercise yielding no conservation benefit,” Daines said. “By cutting unnecessary red tape, we will improve the health of our forests, reduce the risk of severe wildfires, advance wildlife habitat projects, and support good paying timber jobs.”

To read the bill click HERE. Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Risch (ID), Crapo (ID), and Cramer (ND).

This year there has already been a large number of projects impacted by Notices of Intent and lawsuits filed, highlighting the urgent need for a fix to the Cottonwood decision.

Senator Daines’ bill also has strong support from the following wildlife and outdoor groups: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone and Crocket Club, Ruffed Grouse Society, Wild Turkey Federation, Montana Wood Products Association, AFRC, FFRC, American Loggers Council, Stoltze Lumber, Idaho Forest Group, Congressional Sportsmen Foundation.

Statements of Support: 

“Sen. Steve Daines’ bill is absolutely critical to the future of our National Forests. The disastrously wrong Cottonwood case, which the Obama administration appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, has handed a bludgeon to groups with no interest in the management of the National Forests, and they are using it to win frivolous injunctions against badly needed forest management projects. Many of these projects were designed through collaborative efforts and are intended to protect communities and watersheds from wildfire. The sooner this is enacted, the better.”—Bill Imbergamo, Executive Director, Federal Forest Resource Coalition

“RMEF commends Senator Daines for introducing legislation that would reverse the destructive impacts resulting from the Cottonwood decision made by the Ninth Circuit in 2015. This ruling has delayed or stopped much-needed management projects on federal lands that are designed to reduce wildfire risks, improve forest health and wildlife habitat as well as enhance recreational opportunities. The Cottonwood decision serves no purpose other than to require federal agencies to spend more time and taxpayer dollars duplicating wildlife impact analyses while ultimately providing no benefits to sensitive species.”—R. Kyle Weaver, President & CEO, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The National Wild Turkey Federation supports this legislation to avoid unnecessary and costly re-analysis of forest management plans.  Our extensive experience implementing projects for the U.S. Forest Service through Stewardship Agreements, has given us firsthand knowledge of the consultation process and the protections for every project that is initiated under a forest plan.  We have been directly impacted by court injunctions invoked by claims of “new information” and court ordered requirements to redo consultation at the forest plan level.  This duplicative review delays forest restoration work resulting in slow and costly delays and even failure to appropriately manage our national forests. We thank Senator Daines and cosponsors for their leadership to resolve this roadblock to good forest management and look forward to working with them to enact the legislation into law.” – Becky Humphries, CEO, National Wild Turkey Federation.

"Already devastated by mismanagement resulting from frivolous lawsuits that have allowed our forests to deteriorate while we take the management decisions away from trained professionals and place them in the hands of the courts, the Cottonwood Case is another nail in the coffin for the health of our public forest lands.  Senator Daines' Bill corrects that problem and allows the agencies the ability to move forward with forest health projects that have already been subject to intense environmental review." - Daniel Dructor, EVP, American Loggers Council  

“As wildfires begin to rage throughout the West, the disastrous ‘Cottonwood’ decision is being used to obstruct and stall sorely-needed forest management projects on overstocked, at-risk federal lands. Republicans and Democrats agree on the urgent need to reduce the risks of wildfires and toxic smoke that are now threatening our public lands, wildlife habitat and water resources, as well as our communities and citizens.  We applaud Sen. Steve Daines for his efforts to fix the "Cottonwood" decision, and we encourage members of both parties to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”—Travis Joseph, President/CEO, American Forest Resource Council

“Idaho Forest Group really appreciates Sen. Daines’ leadership and his efforts to reduce the impacts of litigation on the management of the national forests.  The Cottonwood decision has hindered numerous forest management projects throughout Montana and Idaho, and threatens to impair the Forest Service’s ability to address critical forest health and fire mitigation treatments that are desperately needed across the West.” - Idaho Forest Group

Background:

To learn more about Senator Daines’ efforts to protect our public lands and promote outdoor recreation, click HERE