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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Rep. Zinke's Forest Bill Targets Fuel Loading, Litigation

The U.S. Forest Service will be able to continue with its tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

Congressman Ryan Zinke says federal forests don't have a fire problem as much as they have a land management problem.

Zinke, Montana's lone Representative in the U.S. House, introduced a forest management reform bill this week.

Its provisions include a streamlined environmental review process and mandated bonding for people who sue to stop collaborative forest management projects.

Zinke says our national forests are sick and it's time to re-think how we manage them.

"The amount of timber, dead and dying timber and the fuel load, is excessive. We need to get more scientists and fewer lawyers back in our woods."

Some environmentalists say Zinke's proposal squashes their right to challenge poorly-planned government timber sales.

The Congressman says it doesn't.

"But it does reward and incentivize everyone to participate in the process rather than refuse to participate and then sue at the end."

We'll have more on Zinke's bill next week.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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