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Rep. Zinke Introduces Forest Management Reform Bill

Rep. Ryan Zinke
Eric Whitney
Rep. Ryan Zinke. File photo.

Congressman Ryan Zinke has introduced a forest management reform bill that he says would prevent unnecessary litigation, improve forest health and help prevent wildfires.

At least one Montana environmental organization says it would instead be a waste of federal tax dollars.

Zinke's proposal is called the "National Forest Health Collaborative Incentive Act of 2015". It would expedite the review process for collaborative forest projects by allowing only "action or no action" alternatives; essentially an up or down vote. Anyone wanting to litigate one of those projects would be required to post a cash bond.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies' Michael Garrity says his group only sues to stop illegal logging projects.

"A bond makes no sense to me because these timber sales cost millions of dollars. When we stop an illegal timber sale, we're saving taxpayers' money. The idea that we have to put up a bond to stop the federal government from losing millions of dollars is totally irrational," Garrity says.

Zinke was unavailable for comment today.

His proposal would also allow states to contribute to revolving funds the Forest Service could use for timber harvesting projects.

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