05.10.18

Daines, Perdue, Zinke, Christiansen Join Forces to Fight Wildfires, Zinke Pledges Support to Repeal Cottonwood Decision

U.S. SENATE — Today, at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, USDA’s Interim Chief of the Forest Service Vicky Christiansen and other congressional leaders joined U.S. Senator Steve Daines in agreeing to join forces to strengthen the fight against wildfires. At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Zinke also affirmed his commitment to work with Daines to fully repeal the Ninth Circuit’s Cottonwood decision.

During the roundtable, Daines, Perdue, Zinke, Christiansen and the other congressional leaders from wildfire-prone states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that facilitates interagency coordination in response to wildland fire. Daines also called for an arbitration program to combat environmental extremists that use fringe litigation as a weapon to stop responsible forest management projects that reduce the risk of wildfire.

Zinke wildfire roundtable

To watch a video of the roundtable meeting, click HERE.

“We have seen devastating wildfires again and again in Montana,” said Daines. “We must take steps now to proactively manage forests so we can reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires.”

Following the roundtable, Secretary Zinke agreed to work with Daines to fully repeal Ninth Circuit’s disastrous Cottonwood decision during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. Daines fought for and secured a partial reversal of the decision in the 2018 Omnibus funding bill.

Zinke cottonwood

Watch video HERE.
Download video HERE.

“It is time to get the fringe litigators out of the forests and get the loggers back in,” said Daines.

Zinke affirmed that repealing the Cottonwood decision would allow the Interior Department to make “better [forest] management decisions.” He added that “the Omnibus did not go far enough to give the Interior Department the tools we need.”

Background:

On March 24, 2018, during hearings in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and the interim chief of the U.S. Forest Service agreed to work with Daines to end frivolous litigation that hinders critical forest management projects in Montana.

On March 21, 2018, Daines secured forest management and wildfire funding reforms in the omnibus appropriations bill.

On February 8, 2018, Daines at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing outlined his energy infrastructure priorities and called for action on forest management to decrease the risk of wildfires in Montana and reduce bureaucratic hurdles that challenge the security of power lines.

On December 6, 2017, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) presented Senator Steve Daines with the 2017 Bernard L. Orell Award.

On November 16, 2017, Daines introduced the Protect Collaboration for Healthier Forests Act to accelerate badly needed and locally supported forest management projects that will improve the health of national forests and get loggers back to work. 

On September 27, 2017, Daines testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on his 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, 2017, 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 19, 2017, Daines discussed the importance of land managers working together with power providers to protect Montana’s electric grid reliability and reduce the severity and intensity of wildfires.

On September 7, 2017, in a letter to then-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 saw in 2017. 

On September 6, 2017, Daines took to the Senate floor to raise awareness and draw attention to the fires burning in Montana.  

On April 27, 2017, Daines introduced the bipartisan Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act of 2017, legislation to encourage cross boundary management of forests to protect water resources, enhance wildlife habitat, restore forest health and strengthen local economies. 

On March 3, 2017, Daines introduced legislation to reverse the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service.

On February 8, 2017, Daines pressed again for action to provide relief on vegetation management around electricity rights-of-way.

On December 9, 2016, Daines introduced legislation to reverse the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service.

On September 23, 2016, Daines called on Congress to support Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) in letters to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders.

On September 13, 2016, Daines introduced the bipartisan Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act of 2017, legislation to encourage cross boundary management of forests to protect water resources, enhance wildlife habitat, restore forest health and strengthen local economies.

On June 24, 2016, Daines moved forward forest management reforms to improve the health of Montana’s national forests, create good-paying jobs and provide Montanans with the economic certainty they deserve.

On June 16, 2016, Daines secured many important resources for Montana to fully fund wildfire suppression in the bipartisan FY2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

On April 29, 2015, Daines pushed the U.S. Forest Service to expedite Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments to rural Montana counties in a letter to then-Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

On April 15, 2015, Daines voted to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program for two years.

On February 11, 2015, Daines called on Senate and House leaders to swiftly move forward legislation to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program.

On January 23, 2015, Daines introduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which overhauls federal wildfire policy, increases funding for prevention and ensures large forest fires are treated and funded as true natural disasters.

 

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