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Government & Politics

Daines Introduces Forest Management Reform Bill

Senator Steve Daines
Steve Daines
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)

Montana’s Republican senator on Aug. 4 introduced a bipartisan forest management reform bill.

Sen. Steve Daines says the legislation, co sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, creates good paying forestry jobs while protecting communities from wildfire.

“Sen. Feinstein’s state has been hit with some severe fires that have taken a huge toll on our forests, but on human life as well. And we’ve seen the same situation in Montana,” Daines said.

The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 exempts certain projects from a full environmental review, which Daines says will increase fuels reduction near roads and transmission lines. The bill allows FEMA grant money to be spent on fire resistant transmission wires and directs the U.S. Forest Service to expedite placement of fire detection tools, like sensors and cameras.

The legislation creates a workforce development grant program for forest sector jobs. Daines also says it prevents what he calls frivolous lawsuits to halt U.S. Forest Service timber projects.

Daines says he previously tried to get several of the legislation’s provisions into a 2018 spending bill. He says the new bill is likely to succeed because of Feinstein’s support, along with bipartisan lawmakers introducing companion legislation in the House.

Numerous environmental groups oppose the bill, and believe it’s a giveaway to the timber industry lacking sound science.