01.12.21

Following Daines’ Work, USFWS to End Burdensome Regulations Harming Montana Forest Projects, Jobs

Rule will modify the Cottonwood decision, cutting red tape that will improve forest health, support Montana timber jobs

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today applauded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on their proposed rule to strike down a burdensome requirement resulting from the Cottonwood decision that yields no conservation benefit and has delayed forest projects while killing Montana timber jobs. The change comes as a result of Daines’ work and efforts. 

“This is a great step in reducing unnecessary red tape that has tied the hands of our land managers and diverted resources for a paperwork exercise that has no real conservation benefits,” Daines said. “This change will help improve the health of our forests, reduce the risk of wildfires, advance wildlife habitat projects and support good paying timber jobs for Montanans. This is a win for conservation, forests, wildlife, and Montana’s timber industry.”

The rulemaking will allow forest managers to return to relying on the best available science for management decisions, not arbitrary requirements set by activist judges. This will help improve the health of Montana’s forests, advance wildlife and restoration projects, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and support Montana timber jobs.

The Cottonwood decision created a new standard for re-consultation on Forest Plans when a species was listed, critical habitat designated, or ‘new information’ was made available, contradicting previous court decisions and crippling Montana’s timber industry in the process. The U.S. Forest Service under both the Obama and Trump Administrations disagreed with the Cottonwood decision, which has led to dozens of projects delayed or obstructed.

Background:

Last Congress, Senator Daines introduced a bill that would 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. 

In 2017, Senators Daines introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reverse the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service by introducing bipartisan bicameral legislation to do just that.